Monday, October 18, 2010

It's the Runs, Stupid

The Phillies evened the series up last night, in the most ominous and predictable manner.  The Giants pitching wasn't dominant, and Philadelphia's hitters reminded everyone what the term "Superstar" means in the game of Baseball.  You know how it goes.  Victorino, Utley, Howard, Rollins, Werth, Ruiz.  They've been quiet until now, but you just can't let them up off the mat.

The Giant's pitching wasn't awful, but against this lineup it has to be very, very good.  And it wasn't that either.  Sanchez got rattled by Fontenot's error in the first and walked in a run.  After that it was a mixed bag, with his usual awesome 'stuff' coupled with a lack of control that had him pitching from behind in the count all night.  And when you have to come in to these Phillies professional hitters, they're going to get their hits.

Which, once again, leads us to the reason why this entire series is an uphill fight for the Giants.  They don't, with the sudden exception of Cody Ross, produce any offense.  You can't win without scoring runs, no matter how spectacular your pitching.  Throughout the postseason, the Giants wins have been one-run squeakers, and their losses have tended to the 'thrashing' end of the spectrum.  Pitching and defense is all fine and good, but if you are to have any hope of winning the series you've got to score runs.

The lineup questions are louder and more insistent after last night's loss.  Torres looked lost, striking out four times at the top of the order.  Huff and Burrell were effectively contained by Oswalt, and Uribe was out with a wrist injury.  So what will Bochy do tomorrow in San Francisco?  Conventional wisdom has Rowand getting a start at leadoff.  He's essentially finished as a professional ballplayer, but right now Torres is a liability at the plate, and with Rowand in Center you don't give up much in the way of defense, so why not give it a try?  Sandoval looked serious drawing a walk as a pinch hitter last night, and with Uribe questionable it's probably worth giving him a start to get SOME power into the lineup.  But ultimately, it's going to come down to Huff and Burrell.  If they don't produce some RBIs, it's a forlorn hope that they can beat this Phillies team.

On the upside, Matt Cain is a bull, and he's probably a little incensed that his start was bumped for Sanchez.  He might very well come out and mostly shut down the Philadelphia hitters.  And in AT&T Park, lots of what we saw as home runs and wall-bangers in Philly will be routine fly balls.  The Giants still have a chance to win this thing, but it's time for some of their players to make a mark.  At this point, Cody Ross needs a little help in the hero department.

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