A Very American Coup By Michael – Louis Ingram, Editor-in-Chief...
Playoff Previews: The NLCS
Season Series: Split, 3-all.
13), 3B Pablo Sandoval (.268, 13, 63).(.290, 26, 86), C
Giants: RH Tim Lincecum (16-10, 3.43, 231 Ks), RH Matt Cain (13-11, 3.14, 177 Ks), LH Jonathan Sanchez (13-9, 3.07, 205 Ks, career-high 193 1-3 innings), LH Madison Bumgarner (7-6, 3.00, 86 Ks in 18 starts as rookie).
Phillies: RH Roy Halladay (21-10, 2.44, 9 CGs), RH Roy Oswalt (7-1, 1.74 in 13 games with Phillies after trade from Houston; 13-13, 2.76 overall), LH Cole Hamels (12-11, 3.06), RH Joe Blanton (9-6, 4.82) or RH Kyle Kendrick (11-10, 4.73).
Giants: RH Brian Wilson (3-3, 1.81, major league-best 48/53 saves), RH Ramon Ramirez (1-0, 0.67, 1 save), LH Javier Lopez (4-2, 2.34), LH Jeremy Affeldt (4-3, 4.14, 4 saves), RH Santiago Casilla (7-2, 1.95, 2 saves), RH Sergio Romo (5-3, 2.18), LH Barry Zito (9-14, 4.15).
Phillies: RH Brad Lidge (1-1, 2.96, 27/32 saves), RH Ryan Madson (6-2, 2.55, 5/10 saves), RH Jose Contreras (6-4, 3.34 4/5 saves), LH J.C. Romero (1-0, 3.68, 3 saves), RH Chad Durbin (4-1, 3.80), LH Antonio Bastardo (2-0, 4.34).
Both original NL franchises, but share little history between them. Have never met in the postseason.
(The biggest sports link connecting the cities might be in the NBA – Wilt Chamberlain and the old Philadelphia Warriors moved West in 1962 and became the San Francisco Warriors. Oh, and the Eagles beat the 49ers last weekend). … Giants and Phillies went 3-3 against each other this year. Starting in 2000, they’re 36-36 in head-to-head games. … Fun facts about the aces: The only player to hit at least three career home runs off Lincecum is Howard, the Phillies’ slugger. And, Halladay is 0-2 lifetime vs. the Giants with a 7.23 ERA, his highest for any opponent he’s started against at least three times. … Giants handed Halladay his first NL loss, beating Phillies in late April. San Francisco won two of three in that set at AT&T Park. … Oswalt beat Giants in start of three-game series at Citizens Bank Park in mid-August. Phillies won two of three at home, nudging them ahead of Giants for the wild-card lead. … Lincecum and Hamels got no-decisions in the Phillies’ 7-6 win in 11 innings early in the season. Lincecum struck out 11, Hamels fanned 10. … Burrell drew a standing ovation when he returned to Philly for the first time since helping the Phillies win the 2008 World Series. The cheers turned to boos when he homered in his first at-bat Aug. 17.
Burrell homered the next game against the Phillies, too. … Blanton beat SF in his one game against them. He did not pitch in the NLDS. …
Sanchez went 2-0 vs. the Phillies this season. … Phillies manager Charlie Manuel picked Giants manager Bruce Bochy to be on his NL staff at the All-Star game in July.
Giants: Back in the NLCS for the first time since 2002. That year, Barry Bonds and the Giants came within five outs of bringing the first World Series crown to San Francisco.
… Beat Atlanta 3-1 in the NLDS, with every game decided by one run.
Lincecum won the opener, pitching a two-hitter and striking out 14 for a 1-0 win in his playoff debut. The four-man rotation of Lincecum, Cain, Sanchez and Bumgarner allowed only three earned runs in 29 innings. …
Posey went 6 for 16 against the Braves, a strong showing by the rookie.
… San Francisco (92-70) needed to win only once in a season-ending, three-game series with visiting San Diego to clinch the NL West title, and did it on the final day. … General manager Brian Sabean boosted lineup with acquisitions all season, bringing in Burrell and Guillen and giving them second chances. Ross came from Florida and provided pop and depth in the outfield. Lefty-hitting infielder Mike Fontenot came over from the Cubs and played in some key games in place of Freddy Sanchez.
There were two new bullpen additions at the trade deadline, too: Ramirez and Lopez. … Posey was called up in late May and initially put at first base to get his bat in the lineup. Went back to his regular position after catcher Bengie Molina was traded to Texas, and blossomed into leading contender for NL Rookie of the Year. … Bochy has had a reputation for sticking with veterans in the past, but benched CF Aaron Rowand – once popular with the Phillies, he carries a $12 million salary – in favor of the unproven Torres. Torres underwent an emergency appendectomy Sept. 12 and missed 11 games. … Lincecum lost five straight starts in August, then returned to top form.
Phillies: Halladay’s no-hitter against Cincinnati in his playoff debut started a three-game sweep in the NLDS. Now the Phillies have a chance to become the first NL team to win three straight pennants since Stan Musial and the St. Louis Cardinals in 1942-44. … Threw dominant pitching at the Reds in the first round. Hamels, MVP of the Phillies’ 2008 World Series championship, pitched a shutout in the clincher – Halladay, Hamels and Oswalt combined for 22 strikeouts and two walks vs. the Reds. …
Balanced lineup beat Cincinnati. None of the Phillies got more than three hits. Utley, as always, got clutch hits. … Rollins was dropped from his leadoff spot in the NLDS, and went 1 for 11 against the Reds.
… Philadelphia (97-65) won its fourth straight NL East title. Manuel’s team overcame a seven-game deficit on July 22 by going 49-19. …
Injuries decimated the Phillies early, forcing six of the eight regulars to spend time on the disabled list. An offense that featured four hitters with 30 homers last year had only one this season. Howard led the team with 31 homers, far below his average of 49 1/2 over the previous four seasons. … The starting rotation is the best in the majors. A bullpen that struggled last year is a strength. Lidge bounced back from a poor season, and the Phillies were 85-2 when leading after eight innings. … The Phillies have sold out every home game this season and set a team attendance record. … Won the second World Series title in franchise history by beating Tampa Bay in 2008, lost to the New York Yankees in six games last year.
What To Watch For
– Ace High: The Game 1 matchup between Halladay and Lincecum is about as good as it gets. Howard has done well against Lincecum (6 for 19 with 3 HRs and 2 doubles), but Utley hasn’t (2 for 20, 8 strikeouts). Maybe Huff can give his Giants teammates a scouting report on Halladay – Huff has batted against the Phillies ace 73 times (.258, 0 HRs), mostly during their days in the AL.
– Shear the Beard: Wilson has struggled against the Phillies, with a 6.43 ERA in eight games. He blew a save chance in April by giving up a three-run double to Werth with two outs in the ninth. Figure the Phils will hardly take a Fear the Beard approach against the Giants closer.
– Healthy or Hurting?: Rollins has been in and out of the lineup this year with an assortment of injuries.
No telling how effective the former NL MVP will be. Guillen delivered several big hits for the Giants, but was left off their first-round roster because of neck trouble.