Wednesday, October 20, 2010

NLCS Game 4: Phillies at Giants

File photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The Phillies try to knot the NLCS up at 2-2 this evening at AT&T Park.
In previewing this series last week, I suggested tonight's Game 4 could be the pivotal juncture. My reasoning? As good as the Phillies' top three starters are, Joe Blanton doesn't measure up. The Giants, meanwhile, have the potentially electric Madison Bumgarner on the hill. Thus, if the rookie lefty wins this matchup tonight, San Francisco goes up 3-1 in the NLCS and is in great shape to advance to the World Series.

But if Blanton can come through -- he has had postseason success in the past, particularly in 2008 -- the Phillies will knot the series back up at 2-2 and feel confident knowing Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels will be starting the next three games, needing to win only two of them.

Lineup changes for both teams. Juan Uribe still can't go for the Giants, so Edgar Renteria remains at shortstop while Pablo Sandoval makes his first start of the series at third base. For the Phillies, Raul Ibanez (0-for-11 with five strikeouts in the series) has been benched in favor of Ben Francisco...

Where: AT&T Park
Gametime: 7:57 p.m.
TV: Fox Radio: WTNT-570 AM
Weather: Mostly sunny, 61 degrees
CF Shane Victorino
2B Chase Utley
3B Placido Polanco
1B Ryan Howard

RF Jayson Werth
SS Jimmy Rollins
LF Ben Francisco
C Carlos Ruiz
P Joe Blanton

SS Edgar Renteria
2B Freddy Sanchez
1B Aubrey Huff
C Buster Posey
LF Pat Burrell
RF Cody Ross
3B Pablo Sandoval
CF Aaron Rowand
P Madison Bumgarner
8:35 p.m. -- Giants up 1-0 after two innings, thanks to another clutch hit from Buster Posey and a fantastic tag by Edgar Renteria. With two outs in the top of the second, Jimmy Rollins took off from first. Madison Bumgarner caught a glimpse and threw to Aubrey Huff, who fired to Renteria. But Renteria pulled off a nifty slide move to catch the ball and tag Rollins before he got to the bag. If he stays back and waits for the throw, Rollins is safe. Heads-up and really athletic play from the veteran shortstop.

8:49 p.m. -- This just in: Buster Posey is good. I know I'm breaking some previously unknown news here, but man, this kid can really play. He just laced a double to left, bringing home a huffing and puffing Huff and putting the Giants up 2-0 in the third. Bumgarner, meanwhile, looks pretty sharp himself.

9:45 p.m. -- Geez, I leave the house for 30 minutes and look what happens. The Phillies scored four runs in the top of the fifth, knocking Bumgarner out of the game. Santiago Casilla didn't do anything to put out the fire, plunking Werth and uncorking a wild pitch. But the Giants are trying to claw their way back in the bottom of the fifth. They just made it 4-3 and knocked Blanton out. So this one's in the hands of both bullpens. Long way to go.

10:11 p.m. -- You just had a feeling Pablo Sandoval was going to come through with a clutch hit at some point. The guy is too good a hitter to be held down this long. Sure enough, the Kung Fu Panda drilled a high fastball from Chad Durbin to left-center, scoring the tying and go-ahead runs. San Francisco now leads 5-4 in the sixth and has scored more than four runs for the first time since, get this, September 25!

10:32 p.m. -- Props to Javier Lopez (who, Mrs. Z would like you to know, was a senior at Fairfax's Robinson High School when she was a freshman -- she even has yearbook evidence!) for coming up big in the top of the seventh, getting Utley to pop out and Polanco to ground into a double play. Giants still lead 5-4 and are six outs from victory.

11:16 p.m. -- So much for that. Werth's RBI in the eighth tied the game 5-5, and since the Giants couldn't respond in the bottom of the inning, they now head to the ninth deadlocked.

11:24 p.m. -- And now Roy Oswalt is entering to pitch the bottom of the ninth for the Phillies. Wow.

11:37 p.m. -- Charlie Manuel's gonna have to answer some questions about that one, because Oswalt just lost the game. Freddy Sanchez lined out hard to right. Aubrey Huff singled to right. Buster Posey drilled a single to right, his fourth hit of the night. And then Juan Uribe, bad wrist and all, got a fly ball deep enough to left field to bring Huff home with the game-winning run. Giants win 6-5 in walk-off fashion and now they have a chance to win the pennant tomorrow night on their home turf. If they do finish off the Phillies, Manuel is going to have a long winter wondering if he should have used closer Brad Lidge in the ninth inning of a tie game instead of Oswalt, who started two games ago and who hadn't pitched in relief (aside from one tune-up after they clinched) since 2006.


Sec3MySofa said...

As a Giants fan, I gotta say, that sure looked like a balk to me.

Sec3MySofa said...

Did Boche just overmanage his team out of a lead?

Andrew said...

Big ground rule double by Bryce Harper for 2 RBIs. Just missed a Grand Slam!

Doc said...

Hey sportsfans, our man in Scottsdale, Harper by name just hit a ground rule double, driving in 2 runs in his 4th AB--with apologies to the Giants celebration.

Anonymous said...

Mark -
Like you, I was very surprised to see Oswalt out there in the late innings last night.
Have you heard how this is going to affect him & the Phillies for his next scheduled start?
Mark in Arlington

Anonymous said...

P.S. Posey looks like a teenager, but he had the demeanor of a 15 year veteran in his post-game interview
Mark in Arlington (again)

Sec3MySofa said...

"Have you heard how this is going to affect him & the Phillies for his next scheduled start?
Mark in Arlington"

You mean, will the Philly fans hang him in effigy inside the park, or outside?

Seriously, some questionalble pitch selection, there, from Roy. Posey slapped about four outside pitches down the right field line, and they kept throwing it there until he got one fair. Dibble would have been chewing his own leg off yelling for one up and in.
Which Oswalt then did, but to Sandoval, and then threw an off-speed pitch low to a guy hitting with basically one hand, rather than staying high and hard.
Humm baby!

FOTB said...

Have to agree with the Markmeister that putting Oswalt in and not Lidge seemed odd, in a situation that Lidge is totally familiar with, while Oswalt isn't. Reminded me a little of the 2001 World Series (not sure if Markmeister remembers that one) when Randy Johnson pitched in relief of Curt Schilling, after having pitched the night before. But that was Game 7, there was no tomorrow, and Johnson had not thrown that many pitches the night before, because the D'backs blew out the Yankees early. This was not Game 7, and Oswalt is supposed to start in two days. Does this stay in his head? Does it give the Giants more confidence now that they can get to him? I don't presume to know more about managing than a guy with a Ring and plenty of wins, but this was a strange call.

Mark Zuckerman said...

FOTB: Actually, Randy Johnson wasn't the guy who immediately followed Curt Schilling in Game 7 of the epic '01 series. One other man pitched 1/3 of an inning between the two, none other than ... Miss Iowa! Yes, Miguel Batista (who also started Game 5 at Yankee Stadium and would have gotten the win if not for Byung-Hyun Kim) entered to replace Schilling in the eighth. He faced only one batter (the almighty Derek Jeter) and retired him on a groundball before handing things over to the Big Unit.

As a lifelong Yankee fan, I'd have figured you'd remember that. Or had you already turned your TV off at that point, just assuming the pinstripers were going to win?

FOTB said...

Good catch, Mark. And a cool bit of Nationals trivia. As a lifelong Yankees fan, I immediately blocked the ending of that game from my mind for many years. Only now, bits and pieces float in. My TV was still on at that point. I had not popped the champagne yet, and of course never did, until last fall, when the Yankees were "back on top." (Thank you for that call, Joe Buck.)

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