For three innings yesterday, it looked like we had a fun afternoon of baseball on tap. Cain was dealing, Hamels faced the minimum. Then, in the bottom of the fourth, the Giants attacked and the Phillies couldn’t even the score.
Let’s get the ugliness out of the way. The Giants lead the series 2-1. Since the NLCS became a best of seven series, 15 of the 19 teams that took a 2-1 lead have won the series. WIP noted this afternoon that Joe Blanton is 1-4 with an ERA over 5.00 with tonight’s Home Plate Ump Wally Bell behind the dish.
But enough of that negativity! Two of those 15 teams were the 2008 and 2009 Phillies. The last team to come back from a 2-1 deficit was the 2003 Florida Marlins. That team went on to defeat that Yankees in the World Series. In 1993, the Phillies were down 2-1 to the Atlanta Braves. And came back to win the NLCS.
Need more pep talk? This year, Blanton has a 2.84 ERA against San Francisco. He pitched 6.1 innings at home against the Giants this year. He gave up 8 hits but only two earned runs, struck out 7 and walked none on the way to an 8-2 Phillies victory. Last year he went toe to toe against Linceum out at AT&T. The Phillies lost 2-0, but Blanton went 7 innings, gave up 7 hits, two earned runs, struck out 5 and walked none.
Today the Phillies face 21-year-old lefty Maidson Bumgarner. While his numbers this year are impressive, he does have a 4.60 ERA at AT&T Park this year where opponents are hitting .303 against him. Back in August, the Reds were able to drive him out of a game early after tattooing him for 8 runs (7 earned) over only 2.2 innings.
Bumgarner is hittable. The Phillies need to start hitting. Almost every outlet has analyzed the Phillies lack of hitting in the postseason, no need to rehash it here. But if the Phillies can get their bats swinging tonight and turn this into a best of three series, you have to like the their odds: Halladay in Game 5 with a chip on his shoulder, Sanchez coming back to Philly for a Game 2 rematch, and a potential Game 7 with Hamels at home versus Cain in ballpark where Cain’s never won.
That concludes your daily dose of optimism.