Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Bats go cold in Game 3, Blanton in Game 4

This is not where the Phillies expected to be. With all of their post-season experience the last few seasons, this is rather uncharted waters.

The only time they've trailed a series 2-1 the last few seasons was last year's World Series against the Yankees. That was their first series loss since 2007.

But this series has a different feel. Cliff Lee pitched the Phillies to a Game 1 victory in last year's World Series, seemingly putting them in command. But, it's the Giants who have taken control of this 2010 NLCS, forcing the Phillies to try to fight, scratch and claw their way back into this series.

The Giants took Game 1; the Phillies' first Game 1 loss since 2007's Colorado sweep. After bouncing back in Game 2, the Phillies lost 3-0 to Matt Cain and the Giants yesterday to fall behind in the series again.

This is the first time the Phillies have repeatedly tried to play catchup while another team plays the role of the rabbit.

The offense was horrendous yesterday and wasted a good performance from Cole Hamels. Hamels' line was a bit skewed after a poor decision to change Chase Utley's obvious error into a hit, adding an earned run to Hamels' line. Utley was awful in the game. He made two defensive blunders, one of which was and should have been ruled an error until the change. He also seemed to come up with men on base in just about every at bat, and he couldn't come through once. The offense was bad in general, but he had more chances than anyone and couldn't produce.

Entering the series with H2O, not many people who have envisioned so much riding on a start from Joe Blanton. That's exactly what tonight's game represents.

The Phillies can ill afford to fall behind 3-1 in the series. While it's not impossible, it's unlikely that the Phillies would win three straight. A loss tonight would give Tim Lincecum a chance to clinch the NL pennant in front of his home crowd in Game 5. I don't want to see him with any extra motivation.

This is the biggest swing game of the series. Win, and it's even with both aces on the mound in a big Game 5. Lose, and the Phillies are really fighting for their lives.

This is Blanton's biggest start for the Phillies. Bigger than his World Series victory over the Tampa Bay Rays. Bigger because their entire season is riding on his performance.

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