Friday, October 22, 2010
Game five NLCS recap
In most sports momentum can start rolling and there is nothing the other can't do. In baseball momentum only goes as far as the next day starting pitcher. As we saw yesterday with the Yankees who were trailing 3-1 but rallied to stay alive with their ace the Phillies were in a similar situation. The Phillies this off season in a controversial move traded for Roy Halladay but then traded Cliff Lee away. The Phillies were hoping Halladay could keep their season alive and bring this series back home to Philadelphia.
The Giants had other plans as they were pitching their ace and two-time Cy Young award winner Tim Lincecum. The Giants were hoping to sweep the Phillies in San Francisco and let the party begin in front of the home town fans. Both aces weren't perfect like in the NLDS but in what was to be expected pitched well enough for their teams to win and each only gave up two earned runs. Unfortunately for one ace his defense left him down.
Phillies take advantage of Giants mistakes, sends series back to Philadelphia with 4-2 win
The Phillies found a way to get it done against Giants ace Tim Lincecum who minus one inning was about as good as expected. The Phillies pitched their ace Roy Halladay who didn't have his best stuff managed to get out of jams and show everyone why he is still the ace. The Phillies took advantage of two bad defensive plays the Giants to send the series back to Philadelphia where they must win both games to keep their National League pennant hopes alive.
The Giants were hoping to seek their first National League pennant since 2002 and had a chance to finish off the Phillies at home. The Giants got to Halladay early when Halladay walked Andres Torres then gave up a base hit to Freddy Sanchez giving the Giants a first and third nobody out situation. After Halladay got Aubrey Huff to line out to Ryan Howard the Giants would score a run in a strange way. Halladay would jam Posey who hit the ball weakly to second baseman Chase Utley. The ball was hit so slow Utley charged and over ran the ball but was still able to get the lead runner out. Posey was safe at first and Torres scored the games first run. The team who had scored first in this series was 4-0.
The Giants appeared to be in great shape after just two innings. Lincecum had yet to allow a man to reach base and Halladay's pitch count was over 40 already. Then in the top of the third the Phillies would finally get to Lincecum for the only time all game. It ended up being all that would matter. Raul Ibanez would lead the inning off with a base hit ending the small hope that Lincecum could throw the postseasons second no hitter. Then Lincecum with two strikes on Carlos Ruiz would bing him giving the Phillies first and second with nobody out. What would happened next was a bizarre play that would change the inning and eventually the game.
With Roy Halladay up it was obvious he was going to try and bunt the ball to advance the runners to second and third. Halladay would bunt the ball but the ball never crossed home plate thus making it a foul ball. The problem is the ump called it fair and Posey picked up the ball and fired a strike to Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval to try and get Ibanez out. The problem for the Giants is Sandoval's foot wasn't on third base and by the time he reach back to third Ibanez had then got in there safely. Sandoval then fell down got back up and threw out Halladay at first because Halladay knowing that the ball should have been called foul never ran. The Phillies caught a break there instead of a runner on second base and two outs there was a runner on second and third and just one out.
With runners on second and third and only out with the Giants clinging to a one run lead Lincecum got Shane Victorino to ground out to first only the ball hit off Huff's glove scoring both Ibanez and Ruiz. Had Huff fielded the ball cleanly that would have made it two outs and there is a good chance Ibanez doesn't score. Instead the Phillies took the lead on the two base error by Huff 2-1. The next hitter Placido Polanco got a base hit to left scoring Victorino from second base giving the Phillies a commanding 3-1 lead. With better defense that inning at most Lincecum gives up a run and that is being very generous.
The Giants would answer off Halladay in the fourth with NLCS hero Cody Ross went the other way to right for a double scoring ex-Phillies outfielder Pat Burrell. Halladay would face a couple of more jams but would get out of them. The Giants would waste early opportunities to get to Halladay and let him off the hook. The Giants had first and second and two men out in the sixth when Halladay on a full count strike out Uribe on a pitch in the dirt. That would be Halladay's last pitch as he would only go 6 innings, gave up 6 hits and walked 2 men but he also struck out 5 and most importantly gave up just 2 runs.
The Giants ace and former University of Washington Huskies ace Lincecum cruised the rest of the game until the seventh inning. After Rollins reached base and striking out Ibanez the Phillies began running on the young catcher. Rollins stole second and third off of Lincecum/Posey with just one out. With the Phillies bullpen and the way the Giants weren't hitting it felt like a two run lead would be the equivalent of a five run lead. Lincecum would then walk Ruiz giving the Phillies a first and third one out situation. With Halladay over 100 pitches Manuel pinch hit for Halladay with Ross Gload. Bochy who had a lefty ready in the bullpen decided to stay with his ace. On the first pitch Lincecum threw he got Gload to line out to Huff and get the double play to keep his team in the game. The ex-Husky and current Giants ace ended up going 7 innings, allowing just 4 hits, walked a batter, struck out 7 and allowed 3 runs but only two of those were earned.
In the eighth trailing by a run the Giants sent up Posey, Burrell and Ross the three best hitters you could have asked for. The Phillies setup man Ryan Madson strike all three of them out on just 13 pitches. In the ninth the Phillies would add an insurance run with Jason Werth's home run. That was Werth's 13th career home run which makes him tied for first place in National League history with postseason home runs. Brad Lidge would retire the side in order for his 12th save in 12 chances in the postseason for the Phillies and the two time defending National League Champions are going back home down 3-2.
Both teams are in the position they wanted to be in to start the series. If someone had told the Giants they would go back to Philadelphia up 3-2 needing one win from Jonathan Sanchez or Matt Cain they would have took that scenario. If someone told the Philadelphia Phillies they would be returning home trailing 3-2 but regain homefield advantage and pitching Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels they would have took that scenario. In this series it all comes down to which ace can out pitch the other ace.
The Phillies took a giant step in coming back in this series knocking off Giants ace Tim Lincecum but they still have a long ways to go. Beating Lincecum, Sanchez, and Cain would go down as one of the biggest comebacks in baseball postseason history. That is until someone brings up they threw Halladay, Oswalt and Hamels. The Giants are trying to be the first team since the 2005 Astros to clinch the World Series berth on the road after losing a potential clinching game at home.
Both teams are in the postion they wanted to be in. It just comes down to who will out pitch the other team. Look for errors and the running game to continue to be a factor. I personally think the Giants are in trouble and blew their chance at going to the World Series but we'll find out on Saturday.