I think every Phillies phan lost a few years of their lives while watching today’s game. The 5-time reigning NL East Champions bats did little through the first 6 innings against the Cardinals tough lefty. But then with one swing of the bat the almost forgotten Ben Francisco sent a ball over the left field fence that nearly hit the newly found ball magnet Vance Worley, who was warming up in the bullpen. The rest of the game was put in the hands of the bullpen and that’s when you started to hear the hearts of the Philly Phaithful echoing through Broad Street. The Cardinals had base runners in each of the final 3 innings but the pen was able to hang on as the Phillies took Game 3 3-2! They will send Ace number 4 to the hill tomorrow night to try to close out his former division rival.
Wednesday October 5, 6:07: RHP Roy Oswalt vs. RHP Edwin Jackson
You know have a great starting staff when you send a pitcher like Roy Oswalt to the hill in game 4 of a series. The only question is what Roy Oswalt will take the mound tomorrow night. His season has been marred with a serious back injury that took the zip off of his fastball and forced him to miss a lot of time during the regular season. But just as the games remaining in the regular season got lower, Country’s fastball velocity got higher. In his final start of the season against the seemingly heartless Braves, he looked like the Oswalt that pitched for the Phillies last year and had earned the reputation as a big game pitcher during his time in Houston. In that game he threw 6 scoreless innings while scattering 3 hits.
It was an up and down season for Roy but he finished the season with a 9-10 record, a 3.69 ERA and a 1.34 WHIP. He was actually better away from the Bank this season, in 13 road starts he was 5-6 with a 3.59 ERA. Oswalt has pitched in 12 career playoff games (10 starts) and is 5-1 with a 3.39 ERA in those games. He has made 4 starts in the NLDS during his career, in those games he is 2-0 with a 3.42 ERA. Tomorrow night’s start will be his 4th career playoff start (5th game) as a Phillie. In his 4 previous games he went 1-1 with a 2.75 ERA.
Oswalt spent the first part of his career in the NL Central, so he is very familiar pitching against the St. Louis Cardinals. He has pitched in 31 games and has made 30 starts against them. In those games he is 10-9 with a 3.19 ERA. In 9 starts at Busch Stadium he is just 1-4 despite a 3.54 ERA. Over the last 5 season, Cardinals hitters are a combined 39-136 (.287) while facing Oswalt.
The Cardinals may have sold low on their talented Center Fielder Colby Rasmus but they were able to strengthen several weaknesses in the process. In addition to getting two arms in the pen, they received SP Edwin Jackson in return. Jackson pitched in 13 games (12 starts) for the Cards down the stretch; in those games he went 5-2 with a 3.58 ERA. He was even better while pitching at Busch Stadium this season. In 8 starts he was 3-0 with a 2.52 ERA. Overall for the season he was 12-9 with a 3.79 ERA and a 1.44 WHIP. Jackson faced the Phillies has a member of the Rays pen in the 2008 World Series and has only pitched in 3 games in the Playoffs. In those 3 games he is 0-0 with a 2.08 ERA. But all 3 of those games where out of the pen, so his start in game 4 will be his first career post season start.
Jackson has only faced the Phillies one other time during his career. That start came last season as a member of the Diamondbacks. He lasted just 5 innings as he gave up 8 hits and 5 runs as the Phillies went on to win the game 7-1. Over the last 5 season, Phillies hitters are a combined 8-35 (.229) while facing Jackson. The Phillies projected starting lineup is just 5-24 (.208) while facing him.
Prediction: Phillies 6 Cardinals 3