The 2011 Phillies will either see tonight’s decisive 5th game as the way their season ended or potentially a spring board to something better. All of the spring training hype around this team and the 162 regular season games will come down to tonight’s game at the Bank. There has been a lot of negativity over the last few days and some people already seem to be throwing dirt on the 2011 Phillies. But I honestly don’t get the doom and gloom outlook since they will send the best pitcher in the game till the hill. This type of situation is exactly the reason Ruben and Company were so adamant to acquire the services of Roy Halladay after the 2009 season.
Doc is a big game pitcher and there isn’t anyone else in baseball I would want to take the ball for my team. Regardless of what people may think, the Phillies are still the favorites to move on to the NLCS. They were the best team in baseball all season, they will play in front of a crazy and hopefully ear piercing loud crowd tonight and they will send the reigning NL Cy Young winner to the hill. But this game is far from a guarantee, the Cardinals have showed all series long that they wouldn’t go down easy. They have given the Phillies everything they could handle throughout the first 4 games of the series. The Phillies are the better team but nothing will be handed to them. You can be sure that St. Louis will make them earn everything they get tonight.
Friday October 7, 8:37: RHP Roy Halladay vs. RHP Chris Carpenter
In game one Halladay gave up a 3 run first inning home run to Lance Berkman to put his team in an early hole. It took the air out of the crowd but the rock that is Doc didn’t blink. He settled in and retired the last 21 hitters. Doc took control of the game allowed the Phillies bats to the team back into the game. In the end Halladay lasted 8 innings and only allowed 3 runs on 3 hits while striking out 9. Roy now has 20 total wins on the season. He won “just” 19 games during the regular season while posting a career low 2.35 ERA and a 1.04 WHIP. Doc is now 2-0 with a 1.59 ERA in his 2 NLDS starts. He is 3-1 with a 2.70 ERA in his 4 postseason starts.
They say that good pitchers can pitch in any ball park and that certainly is true about Doc at the Bank. Citizens Bank Park has always been criticized for its smaller dimensions but Roy hasn’t had any problem pitching there. In the 34 games (33 starts) he has pitched there, he is 20-8 with a 2.31 ERA. Doc has made 5 career starts versus the Cardinals. In those games he is 3-1 with a 2.37 ERA. His only lose versus them came earlier this year when he gave up 4 runs and 6 hits in his 8 innings of work.
Carpenter was asked to start on shirt rest for the 1st time in his career in game 2 of this series and the results were not good. The 36 year old veteran lasted just 3 innings while giving up 4 runs on 5 hits but luckily for him, his team was able to come back and take him off the hook. La Russa will once again give the ball to Carpenter in this decisive 5th game. During the regular season Carpenter went 11-9 with a 3.45 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP. In his 17 road starts he was just 7-6 with a 3.85 ERA.
Just like his last start, Carpenter has never had a lot of individual success while pitching against the Phillies but the results are usually positive for his team. In 11 previous starts he is 7-2 despite a 4.14 ERA. He made 4 starts at the Bank before Sunday night’s start, in those games he was 4-0 with a 4.50 ERA. Carpenter is on the downside of his career and isn’t the same pitcher he was a few years ago, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t a good pitcher. He still has good stuff and he isn’t afraid of any situation. The Philly Phaithful will do their best to get in his head, but it won’t be an easy task.
Prediction: Phillies 4 Cardinals 2