Playoffs

Cain and the unable

The Phils have lost game three of the NLCS, shut down by Matt Cain in a game where they looked old, hurt and a little helpless. Only the Phillies know how hurt they are, but they’re not that old and they’re sure not helpless. The team seems to be wound up about as tight as a team can be, like they come into every at-bat intent to demonstrate once and for all that they haven’t lost a thing since 2008. That’s not going to work because it’s not true, but it’s also unnecessary. They are going to be fine if they can just be as good as they are right now.

Hamels pitched well yesterday, but if you know of any pitchers who can get your team a win when they don’t score any runs you need to get in touch with the Phillies as soon as possible. Cody Ross got the scoring started again as his two-out single in the fourth scored Renteria to put the Giants up 1-0. Aubrey Huff followed that with another single that plated Burrell and extended the lead to 2-0. Aaron Rowand led off the fifth with a double and scored with two outs when Freddy Sanchez hit a ball to second that Utley should have handled, making it 3-0. That was all the San Francisco pitchers needed. Matt Cain was awesome, holding the Phils to two singles and three walks over seven innings. Javier Lopez and Brian Wilson backed him up with scoreless frames in the eighth and ninth.

I’m trying hard not to like Cody Ross, but I just can’t do it. That guy is having quite a series.

The Phils trail the Giants two games to one in the NLCS after losing 3-0 yesterday.

Hamels got the start for the Phillies and went six innings, allowing three runs on five hits and a walk. One of the hits went for extra-bases, a double. He struck out eight.

He faced a Giants lineup that went (1) Edgar Renteria (SS/R) (2) Freddy Sanchez (2B/R) (3) Buster Posey (C/R) (4) Pat Burrell (LF/R) (5) Cody Ross (RF/R) (6) Aubrey Huff (1B/L) (7) Uribe (3B/R) (8) Rowand (CF/R). Fontenot and Torres to the bench. Renteria at short and leads off with Uribe back in the lineup after missing game two, but now at third. Rowand makes his first start of the series in center with Torres on the bench. Posey moves up to third, with Huff dropped to fifth and Burrell moved up to the cleanup spot.

The Giants had six players on the bench to start the game. Lefties Travis Ishikawa, Mike Fontenot and Nate Schierholtz, switch-hitters Andre Torres and Pablo Sandoval and righty Eli Whiteside.

He threw a 1-2-3 first, getting Renteria to fly to center for the first out, Sanchez on a ground ball to short for the second and Posey on a ground ball to third for the third.

Burrell struck out swinging 1-2 for the first out in the second. Ross grounded to short with the count full for the second. Huff flew to Werth on an 0-1 pitch for the third.

Uribe swung at his first pitch of the third and grounded to short. Rowand struck out swinging 2-2 for the second out. The pitcher Cain struck out swinging 2-2 as well to end the inning.

Hamels got ahead of Renteria to start the fourth, but Renteria lined a 1-2 pitch over the head of Utley and into right for a single. Sanchez bunted Renteria to second with the first out. Posey went down swinging at a 3-2 fastball for the second out. Burrell got a close call on a 2-1 pitch that must have been off the corner, and then walked on the 3-1 offering. It put men on first and second for Ross and Ross did it again, lining a 2-1 pitch into left for a single. Renteria scored easily and Burrell took third with the Giants up 1-0. Huff was next and he hit a ball that went off the tip of the glove of a diving Utley and into right for a single. Burrell scored to make it 2-0 with Ross moving to third. Uribe popped to Utley in short right field to leave the runners stranded.

Rowand led off the fifth and ripped a double into the left field corner. Cain tried to bunt him to third, but struck off bunting a 1-2 pitch foul for the first out. Renteria flew to center on a 2-2 pitch for the second. Sanchez was next and hit a soft liner on a 1-2 pitch right in front of Utley. Utley tried to short hop the ball, but it went off his right arm and rolled away from him. Rowand scored to make it 3-0. The play was originally called an error, but was changed to a hit, giving Sanchez a single and an RBI. Posey struck out swinging at a high 2-2 pitch for the third out.

That’s an error on Utley. Not an easy play, but it would have been a nice one to have. Rowand was running with two outs, but if Utley had even kept the ball in front of him he probably would have had a chance to keep Rowand from scoring.

Hamels struck out Burrell and Ross to start the sixth. Huff popped up to the mound for the third out.

Contreras pitched the seventh after the Giants hit for Hamels in the top of the inning. He got Uribe on a popup in front of the plate that Ruiz handled for the first out and then struck Rowand out swinging 1-2 for the second. The switch-hitter Torres hit for Cain, who had thrown 119 pitches in the game, and grounded back to the mound for the third out.

Contreras was back for the eighth. He got Renteria to pop to short, Sanchez to fly to center and Posey on a pop to Utley taken in shallow right.

Two perfect innings for Contreras, who threw 24 pitches in the game. He has now thrown three perfect innings in the series. I do think it’s a minor victory of sorts that Manuel didn’t use Madson in the game.

The Phillies lineup against righty Matt Cain went (1) Victorino (2) Utley (3) Polanco (4) Howard (5) Werth (6) Rollins (7) Ibanez (8) Ruiz. That’s the same lineup they used in game two against the lefty Sanchez. Rollins stays in the six-hole after the big game two. Utley continues to hit ahead of Polanco with Polanco the unlikely three-hitter.

The Phillies bench had six offensive players to start the game, lefties Brian Schneider, Ross Gload, and Domonic Brown and righties Ben Francisco, Mike Sweeney and Wilson Valdez.

Victorino led off the game and lined to short on a 3-1 pitch. Utley flew to center 2-2 and Polanco struck out looking at a 1-2 fastball.

Howard hit the first pitch of the second inning hard, but Rowand took it on the warning track for the first out. Werth struck out looking 3-2 after he thought he had drawn a walk for the second. Rollins got behind 0-2 and then popped to third 2-2 to set the Phils down.

Ibanez struck out swinging 2-2 for the first out of the third. Ruiz lined a 2-1 pitch into center for the Phils first hit of the game. Hamels took strike one, then bunted foul before striking out swinging 1-2. Victorino was hit by a 1-0 pitch, putting runners on first and second for Utley. Utley got behind 1-2 and grounded to short to end the frame.

The Phils didn’t get a lot of chances to hit with men on in the game, but Utley got one there. Hamels was unable to move Ruiz to second after the one-out single.

Polanco grounded back to the pitcher to start the fourth. Howard blooped a single into left and Werth walked behind him, bringing Rollins to the plate with one out and men on first and second. Rollins flew to left for the second out and Ibanez struck out swinging 0-2 for the third.

Next to last real opportunity for the Phils to do some damage with runners on base. I think there’s a good chance we’ll see Francisco get a start in left tonight with Ibanez 0-for-11 in the series and looking awful.

The Phillies were trailing 2-0 when they hit in the fifth. Ruiz flew to left for the first out and Hamels hit a 2-0 pitch well, but Huff handled it at first for the second. Victorino drew a four pitch walk and stole second as Utley took ball one to make the count 1-1. Utley grounded the next pitch to second for the third out.

Again Utley with a man in scoring position. Not sure what it was about the Phils and hitting ground balls to second in the game, but if you’re reading this you might want to get used to it. The Phils didn’t ground to second at all in the first four innings, but had six ground outs to second and a popup to Sanchez at second in the last five frames.

Polanco and Howard both grounded to second for the first two outs in the sixth with the Phils now down 3-0. Werth flew to Ross in right on an 0-1 pitch for the third out.

Burrell was taken out of the game after striking out in the sixth. Ross moved to left and Schierholtz came in to play right. Cain got Rollins to ground to second for the first out. Ibanez lined to first on a 1-0 pitch for the second. Ruiz was hit on the arm with a 1-2 breaking ball, putting a man on for Hamels. Gload hit for Hamels and drew a walk. It put two men on for Victorino, but Victorino grounded to second on a 3-2 pitch to turn the Phillies away.

Ibanez hit the ball hard that time, just into bad luck.

Lefty Javier Lopez was on the mound for the Giants when the Phillies hit in the eighth. He got Utley to pop to Sanchez, the righty Polanco to ground to third and Howard swinging 1-2.

That’s the second time in the series that Lopez went through Howard and Utley without a peep. In game one he got Utley on a ground ball to second and struck Howard out to start the eighth with the Giants holding on to a 4-3 lead.

Wilson pitched the ninth. Werth struck out swinging 2-2. Rollins blasted a 1-1 pitch off the wall in right for a long single, but Ibanez grounded into a double-play to end the game.

Wilson threw ten pitches in the game and Lopez nine.

Victorino was 0-for-2 in the game with a walk and a stolen base. He’s 2-for-11 in the series.

Utley was 0-for-4, left three men on base and made a critical misplay at second that wasn’t called an error. 1-for-10 in the series with three walks.

Polanco 0-for-4 with a strikeout. 2-for-11 in the series.

Howard 1-for-4 with a strikeout. 4-for-11 with two doubles.

Werth 0-for-3 with a walk and two strikeouts. 2-for-9 with three walks and a home run in the series. 0-for-6 in games two and three of the series after going 2-for-3 with a home run in game one.

Rollins 1-for-4. 3-for-11 with a double in the series.

Ibanez was 0-for-4 in the game and struck out twice. 0-for-11 with a walk and five strikeouts in the series. We’ll see what the Phillies do today against the lefty.

Ruiz 1-for-2 with a hit by pitch. 2-for-9 with a home run in the series.

Werth, Howard and Ruiz have solid offensive numbers through the first three games. The other five starters all have an OPS under .700 for the series with Polanco, Utley and Ibanez all under .500. The numbers are pretty miserable for the Giants, too. Ross is 4-for-9 with three home runs and four RBI. By OPS, among the players with more than three plate appearances, their next best player has been Burrell and Burrell has gone 2-for-9 with a double and a walk.

Joe Blanton (9-6, 4.82) faces lefty Madison Bumgarner (7-6, 3.00) tonight in game four. Bumgarner turned 21 in August and was the tenth pick in the 2007 draft. He threw to a 1.18 ERA with a 1.13 ratio over his last starts in the regular season. He made one start against the Braves in the NLDS, allowing two runs in six innings and getting the win at San Francisco topped Atlanta 3-2 in game four. He struggled at home for the season, going 1-3 with a 4.60 ERA at home and 6-3 with a 1.91 ERA on the road. He has never faced the Phillies and no current Phillie has faced him. Blanton will be making his first start since September 29 when he was fantastic, holding the Nats to an unearned run on three hits and three walks over seven innings. He made one start against the Giants this year, which came on August 18. The Phils won that game 8-2 as Blanton allowed a pair of runs over 6 1/3 innings. Both of the runs the Giants scored in the game came on solo homers, one by Torres and one by Burrell. It was Burrell’s third career home run off of Blanton — he’s 3-for-12 with three home runs. Huff 4-for-20 with two doubles. Uribe 1-for-11. Ross 3-for-11 with a double and a home run. Sanchez 2-for-7 with two doubles. Fontenot 2-for-9. Rowand 2-for-4 with two doubles. Torres 1-for-3 with a home run. Posey 1-for-3. Renteria 0-for-3. Sandoval 0-for-6.


Game three trustees

Cole Hamels (12-11, 3.06) faces righty Matt Cain (13-11, 3.14) this afternoon in game three of the NLCS.

Here’s the percentage of plate appearances in which opposing batters walked, got a hit, struck out, doubled or tripled and homered against the pair this year, remembering that Hamels is left-handed and Cain is right-handed:

% BB % H % SO % 2B or 3B % HR
Cain vs RHB
Cain vs LHB 
Cain total
Hamels vs RHB
Hamels vs LHB
Hamels total
6.5
7.1
6.8
5.9
11.2
7.0
19.9%
20.5%
20.2%
22.9%
16.8%
21.6%
21.9%
17.6%
19.8%
24.6%
25.1%
24.7%
5.1%
5.3%
5.2%
5.3%
3.9%
5.0%
2.2%
2.7%
2.5%
3.1%
2.8%
3.0%

Before going through the numbers, it’s important to point out that Cain faced a nearly equal distribution of left and right-handed hitters this season and Hamels did not. About 49.9% of the hitters that Cain faced hit right-handed and about 50.1% were hit left-handed. Hamels, on the other hand, faced about 79.1% righties and only about 20.9% lefties.

Hamels was more likely to walk a batter, and especially more likely to walk a lefty than Cain was. He was better than Cain at preventing walks to right-handed batters.

Batters were more likely to get a hit against Hamels than they were against Cain. As you would expect, Hamels was much better at preventing hits to left-handed batters and Cain was much better at preventing hits to right-handed batters. Cain was better at preventing hits overall, mostly because righties hit just .217 against Cain and .247 against Hamels.

Hamels struck more people out. He struck righties out at a higher rate and he struck lefties out at a higher rate.

Hamels was a better at preventing doubles and triples overall, but mostly because of his success at keeping left-handed batters from doubling or tripling off of him. He allowed just seven doubles and no triples to left-handed hitters all season long. Cain was better at preventing doubles and triples against right-handed batters.

Hamels allowed home runs at a higher rate. He allowed them to lefties at a higher rate and allowed them to righties at a much higher rate.

I think a lot of fans have somehow missed just how good Cain was this year. On the best starting rotation in the league, Cain led the Giants in innings pitched and ratio (1.08). He was 15th in the NL in ERA for the season, sixth for innings pitched and sixth in ratio. His walk rate and hit rates were both the best of his career.

Cain made one start against the Phillies on the season, which came on August 18. The Phillies won the game 8-2 with Cain allowing five runs over six innings. Only two of the runs were earned — Fontenot made a crucial error in the fourth inning to keep the frame alive long enough for Rollins to hit a grand slam off of Cain.

Cain has been hit hard by the Phils in his career, going 0-3 with a 6.23 ERA and a 1.58 ratio. Phillie batters have hit seven home runs against him in 26 innings pitched. The bad news, though, is that much of the damage to his career numbers against the Phils was done in a single start more than four years ago. On May 5, 2006, Cain allowed six runs to the Phils over four innings and gave up four home runs. Utley and Howard each homered twice against him in that game.

Utley is the current Phillie who has seen him the most, going 7-for-15 with a double and three home runs against him. Rollins has also pounded him — 6-for-10 with a double, three triples and a home run. Howard 2-for-10 with two homers. Ruiz 2-for-4 with a walk and a triple. Victorino 2-for-8. Werth 1-for-3. Polanco 0-for-3 and Ibanez 0-for-2 with a walk.

Hamels made two starts against the Giants this year and neither of them went very well. On April 28 he struck out ten in six innings, but allowed four runs. Torres and Renteria hurt him in that game. Torres had an RBI-double and forced in another run with a walk. Renteria had a two-run single in the sixth. On August 19 he allowed five runs in five innings and the Giants topped the Phils 5-2. Sandoval hit a home run off of him in that game and Posey, Guillen and Uribe all drove in runs.

He has made eight career starts against the Giants, going 4-2 with a 4.67 ERA and a 1.24 ratio.

Cody Ross has had success against Hamels in his career, going 9-for-30 with four home runs. He hit two against Hamels in 2008 and another pair again in 2009. Renteria has also seem him a lot, going 6-for-24 with two doubles.

It seems likely the lefty Fontenot will be out of the lineup today with Hamels on the mound. It has been suggested that Renteria may be in the lineup whether Uribe can go or not, with Sandoval at third and maybe Rowand in center. Torres hit just .226 against lefties for the season. We’ll have to wait and see.

Sanchez is 5-for-12 against Hamels with a double. Sandoval 3-for-9 with a double and a home run. Huff 1-for-7. Uribe 1-for-8. Torres 1-for-3 with a double. Posey 2-for-3 with two doubles. Burrell 0-for-2 and Fontenot 0-for-2. Rowand 3-for-15 with a triple.


Oswalt and Rollins order up some redemption to go

The Phils head to California with a split and a spring in their step, thanks largely to the efforts of Roy Oswalt and Jimmy Rollins. Both players came into last night’s game in a funk. Oswalt’s funk was just a one-game event, but the game was big. The injury-slowed Rollins has been struggling for a long time. Oswalt gave the Phils eight strong innings and Rollins drove in four runs as the Phils topped the Giants 6-1 to even up the NLCS after two games.

The Phils were all over Jonathan Sanchez early. Sanchez walked three and had to work around an error in the first, but the Phils managed just one run on a bases loaded walk by Rollins. Cody Ross homered yet again in the fifth, a solo shot that tied the game at 1-1. Victorino started the bottom of the fifth with a double and came around to score on fly balls by Utley and Polanco, putting the Phillies back on top 2-1. The Phils broke it open in the bottom of the seventh. Oswalt led off with a single and came around to score. Later in the inning, Rollins delivered the swing of the game, blasting a double high off the wall in right center with the bases loaded to plate three runs and put the Phils up to stay at 6-1.

The swing was huge for Rollins because of the situation, but also because it came against a right-handed pitcher. Rollins had looked awful against righties in the series after hitting .218 against them in the regular season. The Giants put the righty Werth on base in front of him to get a chance to go at Rollins with a righty and Rollins made them pay.

The Phillies beat the San Francisco Giants 6-1 last night to even the NLCS at a game apiece as the teams head to San Francisco.

Oswalt got the start for the Phillies and went eight innings, allowing a run on three hits and three walks. One of the hits went for extra-bases, a solo home run by the cursed Cody Ross. He struck out nine.

He faced a Giants lineup that went (1) Andres Torres (CF/S) (2) Freddy Sanchez (2B/R) (3) Aubrey Huff (1B/L) (4) Buster Posey (C/R) (5) Pat Burrell (LF/R) (6) Cody Ross (RF/R) (7) Mike Fontenot (3B/L) (8) Edgar Renteria (SS/R). Uribe did not start the game due to a problem with his left wrist. Renteria takes his spot at short with Ross moving up from eighth in the order to sixth.

The Giants had six players on the bench to start the game. Lefties Travis Ishikawa and Nate Schierholtz, switch-hitter Pablo Sandoval and righties Eli Whiteside, Juan Uribe and Aaron Rowand.

Torres led off the game and struck out swinging 1-2. Sanchez hit a one-hopper to short 2-0 for the second out. Oswalt got ahead of Huff and Huff flew to Ibanez near the left field line on an 0-2 pitch to set the Giants down.

The Phils were up 1-0 when Oswalt started the second. Posey led off and got ahead 3-0 before he flew to Victorino 3-1 for the first out. Burrell fouled out to Polanco in foul territory on a 1-1 pitch for the second out. Oswalt walked Ross on a 3-1 pitch that was outside after going way up and in to him earlier in the count, but struck Fontenot out looking at a 1-2 fastball on the inside part of the plate to leave Ross at first.

Oswalt had thrown 27 pitches through two innings.

He set the Giants down in order in the third. Renteria flew to shallow right on an 0-1 pitch for the first out. The pitcher Jonathan Sanchez struck out swinging 1-2 for the second. Torres got ahead 2-0, but Oswalt struck him out swinging 2-2 to end the frame.

Oswalt had thrown 38 pitches through three innings.

Freddy Sanchez led off the fourth and struck out swinging 1-2 for the first out. Huff flew to Ibanez in left on a 1-1 pitch for the second out. Posey flew to Victorino 0-1 to set the Giants down.

Oswalt had thrown 47 pitches through four innings, striking out five and allowing one batter to reach (the walk to Ross).

Burrell fouled out to Ruiz to start the fifth. Ross was next and Oswalt threw him a 1-0 fastball on the inside part of the plate. Ross knocked it out to left for his third home run of the series, tying the game at 1-1. Oswalt walked Fontenot on four pitches, which seemed somehow appropriate given the recent developments. Renteria smoked a 2-2 pitch, but right at Rollins for the second out. Sanchez, who had thrown 77 pitches in the game, hit for himself and struck out swinging 0-2 to leave Fontenot on first.

Cody Ross?

Oswalt led again when he started the sixth, this time 2-1. He struck Torres out on three pitches for the first out. Freddy Sanchez was next and he singled to left on a 2-0 pitch for San Francisco’s second hit of the game. Huff swung at the first pitch and fouled out to Polanco for the second out. Posey grounded to short 2-2 for the third.

Oswalt had thrown 78 pitches in the game.

Burrell struck out swinging 1-2 for the first out of the seventh. Ross was next and he hit a 1-0 pitch hard, but Victorino took the ball on the warning track for the second out. Fontenot grounded back to the mound to set the Giants down.

Oswalt was at 88 pitches for the game.

He pitched the eighth with a 6-1 lead. Renteria led off and popped to first for the first out. Sandoval, who had been doubled-switched into the game in the bottom of the seventh, was next and drew a walk on a 3-2 pitch. Oswalt struck Torres out swinging 0-2 for the second out and Torres was 0-for-4 with four strikeouts in the game. Sanchez followed that with a single into center that moved Sandoval to second and brought the lefty Huff to the plate. Manuel visited the mound, but left Oswalt in the game. Huff flew to Victorino on a 1-2 pitch to leave both runners stranded.

Madson started the ninth after throwing nine pitches in game one and walked Posey on four pitches. Burrell was next and hammered a 2-1 pitch deep to left, but Ibanez made the play falling down on the warning track for the first out. Ross was next and Madson struck him out looking at a 3-2 fastball down the middle and a little high for the second out. Lefty Travis Ishikawa hit for the pitcher Sergio Romo and lined an 0-1 pitch into right for a single that moved Posey to third. Renteria was next and grounded to short on a 3-2 pitch to end the game.

Madson threw 22 pitches in the game, but should be fine for game three with the off-day today.

The Phillies lineup against lefty Jonathan Sanchez went (1) Victorino (2) Utley (3) Polanco (4) Howard (5) Werth (6) Rollins (7) Ibanez (8) Ruiz. Utley and Polanco switch places in the two-three spots against the lefties. Polanco isn’t a three-hitter. One way you can tell is that he slugged .283 over his last 185 plate appearances in the regular season. The struggling Rollins says in the lineup against the lefty and stays in the six hole. Letting Rollins hit sixth and ahead of Ibanez is a little better than against a righty — he hit 297/368/405 against lefties this year and 218/297/360 against righties.

The Phillies bench had six offensive players to start the game, lefties Brian Schneider, Ross Gload, and Domonic Brown and righties Ben Francisco, Mike Sweeney and Wilson Valdez.

Victorino led off and struck out looking 0-2 for the first out. Utley got ahead 3-0 and walked on a 3-1 pitch that was low. He was running as Polanco took strike one and slid in safe to second with a stolen base. Polanco grounded a 1-2 pitch to third. It took a weird hop on Fontenot. Fontenot fielded, but his throw to first was low and pulled Huff off the bag at first. Huff didn’t come up with the ball. Fontenot was charged with an error and Utley moved to third. Howard walked on a 3-2 pitch that was low to load the bases for Werth. Werth got behind 0-2 and struck out looking at a 1-2 breaking ball that was high but called a strike. Rollins was next and walked on a 3-1 pitch that was probably a strike, but was called ball four. Utley was forced in from third and the Phils led 1-0. Ibanez struck out swinging 1-2 to end the inning.

Long inning for Sanchez, who threw 35 pitches and walked three. Big error by Fontenot sure didn’t help him. Guillermo Mota was warming in the pen after the walk to Rollins forced in Utley. Nice to see the Phillies running early. Nice to see Rollins not make an out. Werth and Rollins both had their plate appearance end on a missed call by the home plate ump.

Sanchez came back and needed just seven pitches to set the Phils down in order in the second. Ruiz grounded to third on a 1-1 pitch for the first out. Oswalt grounded to second 1-1 for the second. Victorino lined to Burrell in left 0-1 for the third.

Utley started the third and struck out swinging at a 2-2 fastball that was high. Polanco flew to left on a 1-0 pitch for the second out. Howard was next and he smoked a 2-0 pitch into left center. The ball landed on the warning track and bounced over the fence for a ground-rule double. Werth was next and he struck out swinging 2-2 to end the inning with Howard stranded.

Nice to see Howard on base twice in his first two times to the plate. Less nice to see Werth strike out twice. Sanchez was up to 57 pitches for the game.

Rollins swung at the first pitch of the bottom of the fourth and popped a ball up to the mound that dropped with Fontenot, Huff, Sanchez and Posey all looking at it. Ibanez flew to right 1-1 for the first out. Ruiz had a long at-bat and finally dribbled a 3-2 pitch out in front of the mound. Sanchez fielded and threw to first to get Ruiz for the second out with Rollins moving to second. Oswalt had a long at-bat at well. His ended when he went out of the strike zone to fly to center on a 3-2 pitch to set the Phillies down.

That’s going to look like a hit for Rollins in the box score forevermore. It wasn’t. Phils couldn’t do anything with the second gift from Fontenot in two innings. What must Sandoval look like defensively? Sanchez was up to 77 pitches for the game.

The game was tied at 1-1 when the Phillies hit in the fifth. Victorino led off and doubled into the left field corner. Utley showed bunt but took ball one and then flew to right for the first out with Victorino tagging and going to third. Polanco swung at the first pitch and flew to center, deep enough for Victorino to tag and score, putting the Phils up 2-1. Howard lined an 0-1 pitch into center for a single, but Werth swung at the first pitch and grounded to third to end the inning.

Howard 2-for-2 with a double. Werth 0-for-3 with two strikeouts. It doesn’t seem like that long ago when the Phillies getting a run on a double and two fly balls in the fifth inning wasn’t really that big a deal.

Rollins started the bottom of the sixth and popped an 0-1 pitch into shallow left center. Renteria made a great catch with his back to the infield, bobbling the ball but holding on for the first out. Sanchez made Ibanez and Ruiz look bad after that, striking Ibanez out waving at an 0-2 pitch that was outside and low and getting Ruiz looking at an 0-2 fastball in the middle of the plate.

Great play by Renteria before the Phils even got anything started. Sanchez was up to 95 pitches.

Oswalt hit for himself to start the seventh. He had thrown 88 pitches in the game. He got ahead 2-0 and then lined a 2-2 pitch just in front of the sliding Torres for a single. Righty Ramon Ramirez came in to pitch to Victorino and Victorino put down a nice bunt for the first out, moving Oswalt to second. Ramirez walked Utley intentionally, putting men on first and second for Polanco. Polanco lined a 1-0 pitch into center for a single. Oswalt got the stop sign at third. He hesitated, then ran through it. He would have been out by ten feet if Huff hadn’t cut off the throw from Torres, but Huff did, then relayed home. Oswalt slide in safely and the Phils led 3-1. Lefty Jeremy Affeldt came in to pitch to Howard with one down and men on first and second. Utley and Polanco pulled off a double-steal as Howard swung and miss to make the count 2-2. Affeldt struck him out swinging at an inside fastball 2-2 for the second out. Werth was next and the lefty Affeldt stayed in to walk Werth intentionally, loading the bases for Rollins. Righty Santiago Casilla came into the game to pitch to Rollins, with Pablo Sandoval double-switching into the game to play third. Rollins took two balls and then blasted a pitch high off the wall in right center, scoring all three runners to put the Phillies up 6-1. Casilla stayed in to pitch to the lefty Ibanez. He got ahead of him 0-2 before Ibanez ripped a ball to third that Sandoval handled for the third out.

Just an enormous hit for Rollins, hopefully that’s the one we’ve been waiting for. The Giants could have just brought Casilla in to pitch to Werth, but they wanted Rollins and with good reason. J-Roll made them pay.

Not a fan of the Victorino bunt, but it sure worked out great. Huge hit for Polanco. Howard can’t bring in the runner from third with less than two outs after reaching each of his first three times to the plate in the game.

Righty Sergio Romo started the eighth for the Giants. He struck Ruiz out swinging for the first out. Gload hit for Oswalt and grounded to second hard for the second. Victorino dumped a single into left center, but Utley chopped a ball to Huff at first for the third out.

Victorino was 2-for-4 in the game with a double, a run scored and a big bunt in the seventh. He’s 2-for-9 in the series.

Utley was 0-for-3 with two walks and an important sac fly to move Victorino to third in the fifth. 1-for-6 with three walks in the series.

Polanco was 1-for-3 with a single and two RBI. He drove in Oswalt in the seventh after bringing Victorino in from third with a fly ball in the fifth. 2-for-7 in the series.

Howard was 2-for-3 with a double and a walk. 3-for-7 with two doubles in the series.

Werth was 0-for-3 with a walk and five men left on base. He’s 2-for-6 with a home run and two walks so far.

Rollins had the hit of the series so far. He was 2-for-3 in the game with a walk, a double and four RBI. 2-for-7 in the series.

Ibanez was 0-for-4, struck out twice and left five men on base. 0-for-7 in the series.

Ruiz was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts last night and is 1-for-7 with a home run in the series.

Game three is Tuesday afternoon.


Giants by a hair

Game one of the NLCS was sure entertaining, but didn’t turn out to be the pitching masterpiece that many were expecting or have the happy ending Phillies fans were hoping for. Roy Halladay and Tim Lincecum combined to allow seven runs in 14 innings and give up four home runs. San Francisco got a pair of solo shots from Cody Ross and two big hits in a two-run sixth and came out on top, 4-3.

Ross started the scoring with a home run to left center in the top of the third. Ruiz answered with a solo home run of his own in the bottom of the inning, tying the game at 1-1. Ross homered off of Halladay again in the fifth and the Giants led 2-1. With two outs in the sixth and a man on first, it looked like Halladay had struck Pat Burrell out on an 0-2 pitch to set the side down. Halladay didn’t get the call on the close pitch, the inning continued and Burrell blasted an RBI-double to left that was followed by an RBI-single by Juan Uribe. 4-1 San Francisco. Werth got the Phils back within a run in the bottom of the inning with a two-run homer that cut the lead to 4-3. Javier Lopez and Brian Wilson held at the back of the pen, though. Wilson got a four-out save as the pair combined to strike out five in two innings.

He wasn’t the only Phillie who didn’t look good in the game, but if Jimmy Rollins isn’t the only Phillie the team is wondering what they’re going to do about, the list is pretty short. In the second he came up with Howard at second and one out, but popped to second. Werth walked to start the fourth and Rollins struck out behind him. He came up in the sixth after Werth had homered to get the Phils within a run and struck out with the bases empty. Werth singled with two outs in the eighth and the Phils still down a run, but Rollins struck out swinging for his third strikeout of the game to end the inning. He’s 1-for-15 in the post-season now. If the Phils are going to do anything about it, it probably won’t be tonight with Rollins getting a chance to face a lefty.

The Phillies trail the Giants one game to none in the NLCS after losing game one 4-3 last night.

Halladay got the start for the Phillies and went seven innings, allowing four runs on eight hits. Three of the hits went for extra-bases, a double and two home runs. He struck out seven and didn’t walk a batter.

He faced a Giants lineup that went (1) Andres Torres (CF/S) (2) Freddy Sanchez (2B/R) (3) Aubrey Huff (1B/L) (4) Buster Posey (C/R) (5) Pat Burrell (LF/R) (6) Juan Uribe (SS/R) (7) Mike Fontenot (3B/L) (8) Cody Ross (RF/R). Fontenot starts at third with Sandoval on the bench. The righty Ross starts in right with the lefty Schierholtz on the bench.

The Giants had six players on the bench to start the game. Lefties Travis Ishikawa and Nate Schierholtz, switch-hitter Pablo Sandoval and righties Eli Whiteside, Edgar Renteria and Aaron Rowand.

Torres was the first batter of the game and he swung at Halladay’s first pitch and lined to Victorino for the first out. Sanchez got behind 0-2 and flew to Victorino in right center for the second out. Huff ripped a 1-1 pitch foul down the right field line and then chopped a 1-2 pitch to Rollins. Rollins charged, fielded and threw to first to set the Giants down.

Victorino made a nice play on the ball hit by Torres, moving in to field the sinking liner. It looked like a hit off the bat.

Posey led off the second and struck out swinging at a 3-2 fastball for the first out. Burrell struck out waving at a 1-2 pitch that was way outside for the second. Uribe lined the first pitch he saw from Halladay to center where Victorino took it to retire the side.

Fontenot started the third and grounded to Utley on a 1-1 pitch for the first out. Ross was next and lined a 1-1 pitch out to left center, putting San Francisco ahead 1-0. Halladay struck Lincecum out swinging 0-2 at a pitch that nearly hit him on the foot for the second out. Torres struck out swinging 2-2 to set the Giants down.

The game was tied at 1-1 when Halladay started the fourth. Sanchez led off and flew to center on a 3-1 pitch for the first out. Huff was next and ripped a ball past a diving Howard and into right field. Werth made a nice play, getting to the ball quickly to hold Huff to a single. Halladay struck Posey out swinging 1-2 for the second out. Burrell was next and blooped the first pitch he saw into right. It dropped in front of Werth for a single with Huff moving to third. Uribe grounded a 2-2 pitch to Rollins at short and Rollins went to second to force Burrell for the third out.

Two hits for the Giants in the inning. Burrell got some luck, but Huff ripped his hit to right.

Fontenot flew to Victorino on an 0-1 pitch to start the fifth. Halladay moved Ross off the plate with his first pitch, but it didn’t help much. Ross hit a 2-0 pitch out to left for his second home run of the game, putting the Giants up 2-1. Lincecum had a long at-bat, but struck out looking 3-2 for the second out. Torres grounded to second on a 1-0 pitch for the third out.

Cody Ross?

Sanchez grounded to Rollins 2-2 for the first out of the sixth. Huff grounded to second on a 1-1 pitch for the second. Posey lined a single to right, bringing Burrell to the plate with two down and a man on first. Halladay didn’t get the call on an 0-2 pitch that was very close and Burrell hammered his next offering to left. Ibanez couldn’t make the play up against the wall and Posey scored from first to make it 3-1. Schierholtz ran for Burrell at second. Uribe was next and singled back up the middle. Victorino threw home, but wasn’t close to getting Schierholtz and the San Francisco lead was 4-1. Uribe went to second as the throw came home. Fontenot flew to center for the third out.

Huge call on the 0-2 pitch to Burrell, which looked like a strike. Ibanez could have made the play on the ball Burrell hit to left against the wall as well.

The lead had been cut to 4-3 when Halladay started the seventh. Ross led off and grounded to third on a 3-2 pitch for the first out. Lincecum swung at the first pitch and grounded softly to first. Torres lofted a 2-2 pitch down the left field line. It dropped just inside the foul line, but Ibanez got to it quickly to hold Torres to a single. Sanchez struck out swinging 1-2 to leave Torres at first.

Madson started the eighth, even with the lefty Huff leading off for San Francisco. Huff flew softly to left on a 1-2 pitch for the first out. Posey grounded softly to first on the first pitch of his at-bat for the second. Schierholtz, who stayed in the game to play outfield after running for Burrell in the sixth, was next. Madson struck him out swinging for the third out.

Great start to the series for Madson, getting two lefties as he sets the Giants down in order.

Lidge started the ninth by striking out Uribe for the first out. Fontenot lined the first pitch he saw from Lidge into center for a single, bringing Ross to the plate with a man on first. Fontenot stole second as the count went 1-1 on Ross and Lidge walked Ross on a 3-2 pitch that was low. It brought Ishikawa, who had been double-switched into the game in the top of the inning, to the plate with one down and men on first and second. Lidge hit the lefty on the foot and the bases were loaded. Lidge got ahead of Torres 0-2 and struck him out trying to check his swing on a ball in the dirt for the second out. Sanchez flew to center 2-1 to leave the bases loaded.

Huge strikeout for Lidge to get Torres with the bases loaded and one out and keep the Giants off the board. He threw 23 pitches in the game. Madson threw nine.

The Phillies lineup against righty Tim Lincecum went (1) Victorino (2) Polanco (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Werth (6) Rollins (7) Ibanez (8) Ruiz. Rollins still shouldn’t be hitting ahead of Ibanez and Ibanez shouldn’t be hitting seventh.

The Phillies bench had six offensive players to start the game, lefties Brian Schneider, Ross Gload, and Domonic Brown and righties Ben Francisco, Mike Sweeney and Wilson Valdez. Dobbs lost his spot on the roster to Kendrick and the Phillies had 11 pitchers on the team: starters Halladay, Oswalt, Hamels and Blanton and relievers Lidge, Madson, Kendrick, Durbin, Contreras as well as lefties Romero and Bastardo.

Victorino led off the bottom of the first. He swung at Lincecum’s first pitch and drove it to right center, but Ross tracked it down on the warning track for the first out. Polanco lofted an 0-1 pitch to right-center and Torres took it easily for the second out. Utley got ahead 2-0 and then hit a 2-1 pitch well to left, but Burrell took it at the wall to end the inning.

Victorino and Utley both smoked the ball in the inning, but with nothing to show for it.

Howard hit the ball well to start the second, too, but nobody caught his. He swung at the first pitch and drove it into left center for a double. Werth struck out swinging 1-2 for the first out. Rollins got ahead 2-0, but popped to Sanchez in shallow right 2-2 for the second out. Ibanez got ahead 2-0 as well, but flew to center 2-1 to leave Howard at second.

Nothing for the Phils after the leadoff double by Howard.

They were losing 1-0 when they hit in the bottom of the third. Ruiz led off and hit a 2-0 pitch out to right, tying the game at 1-1. Halladay followed him and singled into left. Lincecum got ahead of Victorino and Victorino hit a 1-2 pitch into a double-play, bringing Polanco to the plate with the bases empty. Polanco got ahead 2-0 and rocketed a double into left. Utley drew a walk on a close 3-1 pitch that was low, putting men on first and second for Howard. Howard swung at a terrible 2-1 pitch that was high and missed. Posey didn’t catch the ball and the runners advanced to second and third. Howard struck out swinging at a 2-2 pitch that was inside to leave both men stranded.

Werth started the fourth and took four straight balls to draw a leadoff walk. Rollins struck out swinging 2-2 for the first out. Ibanez hit a 1-1 pitch to second. It was almost a double-play, but Ibanez beat the relay to first with the help of a nice takeout slide from Werth to keep it alive for Ruiz with two outs and a man on first. Ruiz hit an 0-2 pitch slowly to short and Uribe made a nice play to field and throw to first in time to get Ruiz.

I’m pretty sure I’m not the only Phillies fan who was wondering if Rollins should have been bunting after the leadoff walk by Werth. I don’t think he should have, but it couldn’t have worked out a lot worse than it did.

The Phils were down 2-1 when they hit in the fifth. Halladay led off and struck out swinging at a high 2-2 pitch out of strike zone. Victorino popped a 1-1 pitch up to Sanchez in foul territory. Polanco got ahead in the count, but lined a 2-0 pitch to center to end the inning.

It was 4-1 when the Phillies hit in the sixth. Ross had moved to left with Schierholtz in right. Utley led off and hit a 1-1 pitch back through the middle. It went off the heel of Lincecum’s glove. Uribe got to the ball, but had trouble getting it out of his glove and Utley beat the throw to first for an infield single. Howard struck out swinging 0-2 for the first out. Werth was next and he hit a 2-2 pitch just out to right center, cutting the lead to 4-3. Rollins struck out again, this time trying to check his swing 1-2, for the second out. Ibanez was next and walked on a 3-2 pitch that was in the dirt. Ruiz struck out swinging 2-2 to leave Ibanez at first.

The Phils surely would have hit for Halladay if Ruiz had reached base. Instead, Halladay threw a scoreless seventh and Brown hit for him with the Phils still down a run to start the bottom of the seventh. Lincecum got him to ground to short on a 1-2 pitch for the first out. Victorino struck out trying to check his swing 0-2 for the second out. Polanco grounded to short 1-2 to end the inning.

Lefty Javier Lopez was on to face Utley to start the eighth. Utley got behind 0-2 and grounded to second for the first out. Howard struck out swinging 2-2 for the second out. The Giants brought in closer Brian Wilson to pitch to the righty Werth, double-switching Ishikawa into the game and putting Huff on the bench. Werth singled into center on a 2-0 pitch. Rollins struck out swinging 3-2 to leave Werth at first.

Ibanez started the ninth with Wilson still on the mound for the Giants and the Phils still down a run. Ibanez took a 2-2 pitch that was very close but called outside, then struck out looking 3-2 for the first out. Ruiz was hit by a 1-1 pitch that was up and in and Gload hit for Lidge. Gload hit a 2-1 pitch hard down the first base line, but foul. He struck out swinging 2-2 for the second out. Valdez ran for Ruiz at first and Victorino came to the plate as the last hope for the Phils. Victorino struck out swinging 3-2 to end the game.

Victorino was 0-for-5 and struck out twice.

Polanco 1-for-4 with a double.

Utley 1-for-3 with a walk.

Howard was 1-for-4 with a double and three strikeouts.

Werth 2-for-3 with a walk, a home run and two RBI.

Rollins 0-for-4 and struck out three times.

Ibanez 0-for-3 with a walk.

Ruiz 1-for-3 with a home run.

Roy Oswalt (13-13, 2.76) will face lefty Jonathan Sanchez (13-9, 3.07) in game two. Sanchez went 4-1 with a 1.03 ERA and a 1.01 ratio in his last seven starts of the regular season. You’re not going to get a hit off of him, he allowed just 142 in 193 1/3 innings on the seasons and opponents hit .204 against him, but he does walk a lot of hitters. He led the NL this season with 96 walks. He was eighth in the league with 205 strikeouts. Sanchez faced the Phils twice this season, holding them to a run over five innings on April 26 and dominating them on August 19, holding them to a run on two hits over eight innings. Victorino is 6-for-15 (.400) against him for his career with a double. Howard 3-for-14 with two doubles and a triple. Utley 3-for-11 with a double and a home run. Polanco 3-for-9 with three singles. Ruiz 1-for-9 with a single and three walks. Rollins 1-for-16 with a double. Werth 0-for-12 with six strikeouts. Ibanez 0-for-6.

Oswalt didn’t pitch well in game two of the NLDS against the Reds, but threw to a 1.41 ERA over his last 12 appearances to end the regular season. He made four starts against the Giants this season, three while he was with the Astros and one with the Phillies, going 1-3 with a 3.33 ERA and a 1.04 ratio. Freddy Sanchez is the Giant who has seen him the most for his career, going 11-for-36 (.305) with five doubles. Huff 3-for-12 with three singles. Uribe 6-for-16 with a homer. Fontenot 5-for-21 with a double. Sandoval 2-for-9. Burrell 4-for-18 with a home run. Torres 2-for-10 with two doubles. Ross 2-for-9 with a double. Posey 2-for-3.


Don’t hassle us with your Cys, Tim

Roy Halladay (21-10, 2.44) faces righty Tim Lincecum (16-10, 3.43) tomorrow night in game one of the NLCS. As far as pitching matchups go, you can’t ask for much more. Halladay was the league’s best pitcher in ’10 and Lincecum was the league’s best pitcher in 2008 and 2009.

They’ve both been pitching rather well in their last couple of outings. Lincecum threw to a 1.94 ERA over his last six starts in the regular season, striking out 52 in 41 2/3 innings and throwing to an 0.94 ratio. He made one start in the NLDS and was great, throwing a complete game, two-hit shutout while striking out 14 as San Francisco won game one 1-0.

He led the NL in strikeouts this year for the third straight season. It wasn’t really very close in ’08 or ’09. This season Halladay finished second in the league, but still struck out 12 fewer batters (219 compared to 231 for Lincecum) in 38 1/3 more innings.

Lincecum had two months of the season in which he didn’t pitch very well. He made six starts in May, going 1-2 with a 4.95 ERA and a 1.54 ratio as he walked 23 in 36 1/3 innings. August was even more miserable. Opponents hit .311 against him over his five August starts and he allowed five home runs, pitching to a 7.82 ERA with a 1.82 ratio.

Near the end of August, Bruce Bochy suggested that Lincecum’s conditioning was hampering his performance. Again, since then, Lincecum has put together six great starts to finish the regular season and one outstanding start in his first playoff appearance.

Lincecum had better results pitching on the road than he did at home this season. 9-7 with a 3.69 ERA and a 1.37 ratio at home and 7-3 with a 3.17 ERA and a 1.17 ratio on the road. For his career his numbers are very similar at home and on the road.

Lincecum made his major league debut against the Phillies on May 6, 2007. He had one start against the Phils this season, which came on April 28. He pitched very well, allowing two runs on three hits and a walk over 8 1/3 innings. Howard homered off of him in the fifth to put the Phils up 1-0. The Giants tied it in the bottom of the fifth with a run off of Hamels and added three more in the sixth to go ahead 4-1. Lincecum started the ninth with a three-run lead, but allowed a one-out walk to Victorino. Victorino would come around to score with Brian Wilson on the mound as the Phils tied the game up and then won 7-6 in extra-innings. If fear of Brian Wilson is keeping you up at night, you might want to check out the box score from the April 28 game.

Howard, Werth and Polanco are the only Phillies that are going to start game one whose career numbers against Lincecum aren’t ugly. Howard has pounded him in 19 at-bats, going 6-for-19 with three home runs and three walks. Werth is 3-for-9 with a homer. Polanco is 2-for-5. After that, things go downhill quickly. Utley 2-for-20 with a double, a home run and eight strikeouts. Rollins 3-for-18 with a double. Ibanez 1-for-10 with five strikeouts. Victorino 4-for-21. Ruiz 2-for-10.

After winning the Cy Young award in both ’08 and ’09, Lincecum isn’t going to win it this year and isn’t going to come close. Halladay looked pretty well-positioned to join him as a two-time winner.

Halladay and Lincecum are both right-handed aces, but they aren’t the same kind of pitcher. Here’s the percentage of plate appearances for the season in which batters got a walk, a hit, a hit or a walk or struck out against each of them this season:

% BB % H % H or BB % SO
Lincecum vs R 7.2 20.6 27.8 26.3
Lincecum vs L 9.6 22.5 32.2 25.3
Lincecum Total 8.5 21.6 30.1 25.8
Halladay vs R 3.1 21.7 24.9 24.1
Halladay vs L 2.9 24.9 27.8 19.9
Halladay Total 3.0 23.3 26.3 22.1

Lincecum struck people out, both lefties and righties, at a higher rate than Halladay.

Halladay walked dramatically fewer hitters. A right-handed hitter was more than twice as likely to draw a walk in a given plate appearance against Lincecum and a left-handed hitter more than three times as likely.

Both righties and lefties were less likely to get a hit off of Lincecum than they were to get a hit off of Halladay. However, because the advantage for Halladay in preventing walks was a lot more dramatic than Lincecum’s advantage at preventing hits, batters were still more likely to get a hit or a walk in a given plate appearance against Lincecum.

Not all hits are the same, of course. The table below shows the percentage of hits allowed this season that went for singles, total bases allowed per hit, the percentage of plate appearances that ended with an extra-base hit and the percentage of plate appearances that ended with a home run.

% of H 1B TB per H % of PA XBH % of PA HR
Lincecum vs R 76.7 1.38 4.8 1.4
Lincecum vs L 68.5 1.60 7.1 2.5
Lincecum Total 72.2 1.51 6.0 2.0
Halladay vs R 71.4 1.51 6.2 2.3
Halladay vs L 68.9 1.54 7.7 2.5
Halladay Total 70.1 1.52 6.9 2.4

Again, the top chart showed that Lincecum allowed fewer hits than Halladay. The chart above suggests the hits he allowed were better, especially against right-handed batters. 76.7% of the hits that Lincecum allowed to righties were singles and the average hit he allowed went for just 1.38 bases. Only 71.4% of the hits that Halladay allowed went for singles and hits by righties averaged 1.51 bases. Righties were a lot more likely to homer off of Halladay or get an extra-base hit of any kind.

Lefties were also more likely to homer off of Halladay or get an extra-base hit (Halladay’s 2.5 for homers is worse than Lincecum’s), although the gap isn’t as dramatic. Of the hits they allowed to left-handed batters, Halladay actually had a higher percentage of the hits go as singles and allowed fewer total bases per hit.

Halladay, you may have heard, is also pitching well these days. He threw a two-hit shutout against the Nationals in his final start of the regular season. In his most recent outing he became the first player since 1956 to throw a no-hitter in post-season play.

He made one start against San Francisco this season and things didn’t go very well. He allowed five runs on ten hits over seven innings. DeRosa put the Giants on top with a two-run single in the bottom of the first. John Bowker and Eli Whiteside doubled back-to-back in the second, extending the lead to 3-0. Sandoval started the sixth with a double and Huff drove him in to make it 4-1. Whiteside homered off of Halladay in the seventh to make it 5-1, which is how it ended.

Thanks to their days in the AL, Huff is the current Giant who has seen Halladay the most. 17-for-66 with a double and a meager 255/315/273 line for Huff. Uribe, Ross and Burrell have also seen him a lot, although not as much as Huff. Burrell is 6-for-18 with six singles, but Uribe and Ross have both struggled. Uribe 4-for-18 with a double, Ross 3-for-16 with three singles. Torres is 1-for-7, Sandoval 2-for-4 with a double and Sanchez and Fontenot are both 1-for-3. He has never faced Posey.


And if Madson can just steer clear of any other chairs with malicious intent, the back of the pen might be okay

Just as long as he doesn’t have a problem with pitching like three innings a game.

The biggest worry for many Phillies fans as we head into the NLCS seems to be that the offense either just won’t show up or won’t be able to handle the San Francisco pitching. I sure hope that doesn’t happen, but there seems to be a whole lot of evidence that the Philly offense can hit just about anyone. Instead of worrying about the areas where we know the Phils are better than the Giants, I wonder if we should take some time to worry about the areas where we know San Francisco is better than the Phillies.

By that, of course, I mean the bullpens.

There is no argument to be made that the Phililes had a better bullpen that the Giants this year. The Phillies relief corps was in the middle of the pack in the NL while San Francisco was perhaps a tick less dominant that the Padres, but still at least the second-best bullpen in the league. Phillies relievers threw to a 4.02 ERA (tenth-best in the NL) and a 1.39 ratio (tenth-best), the Giants bullpen had a 2.99 ERA (second-best) and a 1.31 ratio (sixth).

It’s not really very close. There was one area where the Phillies had an advantage, though, and might still in the series. Here’s the NL rank for runs allowed per batter faced in innings six through nine for each team (the numbers include results for all pitchers for each team, not just relievers):

Inning SF PHI
6 1 4
7 1 12
8 9 1
9 3 12

So, you shouldn’t be hoping to put up a whole lot of runs against the Giants in the sixth, seventh or ninth, but you also shouldn’t be looking to do much against the Phils in the eighth.

If you’re a Phillies fan, you’re almost surely guessing that we have Ryan Madson to thank for his dominance in the eighth inning. And you’re right. But Madson wasn’t the only reliever who shined for the Phils in that role. Contreras was also fantastic in the eighth inning and got a lot of chances there, thanks to the toe incident that sidelined Madson early in the season. Madson wound up facing 114 batters in the eighth inning for the season and Contreras 111. As good as Madson was, Contreras pitched just about as much as Madson did in the eighth and was nearly as effective. Here’s what the duo did in the eighth for the season:

Player IP
ERA Ratio K
Madson 29 2/3 1.52 0.81 32
Contreras 27 1/3 1.65 1.17 24

While it’s nifty that Contreras threw so well in the eighth over the course of the year, you have to wonder a little about how relevant that is going to be in the series. Contreras threw to a 5.63 ERA over his last eight appearances in the season. He had an 0.56 ERA in his first 18 appearances of 2010, but since June 1 he’s thrown 40 2/3 innings with a 4.43 ERA and a 1.40 ratio. If you see him pitching in the eighth in the NLCS it’s probably going to mean that Madson is hurt or the Phils are up or down by a lot of runs.

If there’s not a ton of reasons to have confidence in what Contreras might do at the back of the pen in the series, it sure seems like there is a lot of reason for confidence in Madson. Madson threw to a 1.04 ERA and an 0.89 ratio over his last 36 appearances to end the regular season, striking out 44 in 34 2/3 innings.

There’s more, though. The Phillies haven’t just been dominant in the eighth inning. The Giants have oddly also been ineffective, slipping into the bottom half in the NL in runs allowed per batter faced. They also floundered in the eighth inning in the NLDS against the Braves. Here are the numbers for their three relievers who have faced the most batters in the eighth inning, righties Sergio Romo and Guillermo Mota and lefty Jeremy Affedlt:

Player IP
ERA Ratio K
S Romo 30 2/3 1.47 0.72 34
G Mota 22 1/3 6.45 1.30 15
J Affeldt 19 2/3 4.12 1.63 19

There’s not a lot of mystery about who was helping and hurting the Giants in the eighth during the regular season — Romo was really good and Mota and Affeldt, especially Mota, were less good. Romo didn’t have a good NLDS, allowing hits to both men he faced in game two and allowing a run while getting two outs in game three. He ended the set with a 40.50 ERA and a 4.50 ratio for the post-season. The Giants let righty Santiago Casilla and lefty Javier Lopez handle the eighth with a one-run lead in game four. Casilla threw to a 1.95 ERA with the Giants and struck out 56 in 55 1/3 innings, but he pitched more in both the sixth and seventh innings than he did the eighth this season.

The ninth inning has been a different story, of course. Brian Wilson has been perhaps the best closer in the league after Billy Wagner, leading the NL with 48 saves while throwing to a 1.81 ERA and an 1.18 ratio for the season.

Here’s what the two guys that faced the most batters in the ninth for each team did in the inning:

Player IP
ERA Ratio K
B Wilson 54 2/3 1.81 1.10 69
J Affeldt 15 2/3 3.45 1.47 15
B Lidge 37 2/3 3.58 1.27 43
R Madson 18 1/3 4.42 1.31 25

No contest there between Wilson and Lidge. Neither Madson or Affeldt impressed with their chances in the ninth, but Wilson and Lidge are going to be the guys looking to convert save opportunities in the series. Opponents hit for about the same average against Wilson and Lidge, .207 against Lidge and .210 for Wilson, but Wilson threw 17 more innings in the ninth and allowed fewer homer runs (three for Wilson and five for Lidge) and walked fewer hitters (17 for Wilson and 19 for Lidge).


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