The Phillies and Giants only get to play each other twice every regular season and the schedule makers thought it would be fun to play those series a week a part. Last week the Phillies were able to take the 1st game of the series behind a stellar performance by the young Vance Worley and the Phillies bats were able to pound the Giants lefty Barry Zito and win the first game of the series. But the following two games had a scary similarity to last year’s NLCS. Cain and Lincecum completely shut down the Phillies offense and won the final two games of the series to earn the series win.
Since then the Phillies lineup has had a drastic change with the addition of right fielder Hunter Pence. He has given the Phillies lineup a lot more depth and balance and makes their offense a force once again. This theory will be put to the challenge when they face the Giants in a 4 game series that starts tonight in San Francisco.
The loss in the Giants series seemed to light a fire under this Phillies team, since then they have swept the last two series and have now won 6 games in a row. They have scored 30 runs in the 5 games since they acquired Pence. The Phightin’s are now 71-39 and are 8 games north of the Braves and any other team in the National League. There league best record is 2.5 games better than the Red Sox and 3.5 games better than the Yankees. The Phillies are currently on pace to win an astounding 105 games. But the scary part is they usually play their best baseball during the closing months of the season. This means that a 110 win season is not entirely out of the question. If they can continue to swing the bats like they have over the past week, they are nearly impossible to beat.
Meet the Giants
While the Phillies surged after last week’s series between the two teams, the Giants ran into some trouble. Before yesterday’s win against the Diamondbacks, San Fran had lost their last 5 games. The Giants are currently 62-49 and hold a one game lead over Arizona for first in the NL West. Their starters ERA of 3.16 enter the series trailing just the Phillies for the lowest in the majors. The Giants pitching carried the team last October and it will have to do the same this season. They are 26th in homeruns, 27th in batting average and 28th in runs scored. Their offense has been significantly worse this season and they have tried to upgrade the lineup as much as they can. Over the last few weeks they have added Carlos Beltran, Jeff Keppinger and Orlando Cabrera but it is still not a lineup that will scare many pitchers.
Thursday August 4, 10:15: LHP Cliff Lee vs. LHP Madison Bumgarner
Lee will pitch in San Fran for the first time since the World Series last year. He had been on a magical run until the Rangers ran into the Giants. Lee gave up 6 earned runs in just 4.2 innings in his start in game 1 of the World Series. Clifton is coming off of a solid start last Saturday night against the Pirates; he pitched into the 8th innings and was pulled after he gave up his 4th run. The Phils rejuvenated offense scored 7 for Lee to get him his 10th win of the season. Lee is now 10-7 with a 3.14 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP. Besides his 2 starts in the World Series, Lee has been great against the Giants. In his 3 regular season starts versus them, he is 3-0 with a 1.13 ERA. He has made 2 regular season starts at AT&T Park, in those games he is 2-0 with a 1.13 ERA.
The Giants will send the 21 year old lefty Madison Bumgarner to oppose Lee tonight in San Fran. Bumgarner was the 10th overall pick in the 2007 draft and sprinted through the system in just a few years. He pitched in 4 games in 2009 before making 18 starts last season for the Giants. Last season he went 7-6 with a 3.00 ERA and pitched well enough to earn a spot in the team’s postseason rotation. So far this season Bumgarner is 6-10 with a 3.80 ERA and a 1.30 WHIP. His last and only start against the Phillies came in game 4 o f last season’s NLCS. In that start he went just 4.2 innings while giving up 3 runs. Bumgarner is just 3-5 with a 4.60 ERA in 11 home starts in this season.
Friday August 5, 10:15: RHP Vance Worley vs. LHP Jonathan Sanchez
The Vanimal had given up just 5 runs in his previous 7 starts going into to Sunday’s game against the Pirates. He then gave up 4 runs in his six innings of work and his ERA jumped from 2.02 to 2.33. But his “poor” outing was good enough to keep the Phillies within shouting distance and allowed Raul to win the game in the 10th inning. This outing may be seen as a disappointing start by many but it is what most teams would love to get out of their 5th starter. Worley is now 7-1 with a 2.33 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP. Last week the Vanimal pitched his first complete game of his career, in his 9 innings he gave up just 2 runs on 3 hits. That start was the 23 year olds only career start versus the Giants. Current Giants hitters are a combined 4-34(.118) while facing Worley during their careers.
The last time Sanchez faced the Phillies was during game 6 of the NLCS. He hit Utley and after the ball somehow bounced right to Chase, he tossed the ball back to Sanchez. The easily flustered pitcher didn’t appreciate Utley’s gesture and after the two exchanged a few words, the benches were cleared. The Giants then pulled the lefty and handed the game over the pen for the remainder of the game. The 28 year old has been on the disabled list since June 24 with a biceps injury. Sanchez is 4-5 with a 3.81 ERA and a 1.42 WHIP in 16 starts this season. He has pitched in 9 career regular season games (5 starts) versus the Phillies, in those games he is 3-1 with a 2.86 ERA. Current Phillies hitters are a combined 18-100(.180) while facing Sanchez during their careers.
Saturday August 6, 4:10: LHP Cole Hamels vs. RHP Matt Cain
Hamels has 12 wins this season and could reach 20 with a solid finish to the season, but his win number could be higher if he would receive better run support. This was a major reason that he only finished the season last year with 12 wins despite a 3.06 ERA. Though it hasn’t been as severe this season, it has still had an impact on Cole. Since June 1, Cole has given up more than 2 earned runs just once, yet he has had 4 losses and 3 no decision during that span. Hamels is now 12-6 with a 2.62 ERA and a 0.97 WHIP so far this season. He has made 9 career regular season starts versus the Giants, in those starts he is 4-3 with a 4.38 ERA. Four of those starts have come at AT&T Park and he is 2-1 with a 6.12 ERA in those games. Current Giants hitters are a combined 44-156(.282) while facing Hamels during their careers.
Cain faced Hamels last week and only allowed 1 unearned run as the Giants beat the Phillies 2-1. The 26 year old righty was selected to the all star game and been solid since the break. But he was roughed up by the D-Backs on Monday night. Cain went just 5.2 innings and gave up 5 earned runs to the Giants division rival. He is now 9-7 with a 3.10 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP so far this season. Early in his career, Cain struggled mightily while facing the Phillies. His numbers have rebounded a little with his stellar performances against the Phightin’s but they are still not great. In 6 starts he is just 1-3 with a 4.91 ERA. Current Phillies hitters are a combined 27-101(.267) while facing Cain during their careers.
Sunday August 7, 4:05: RHP Roy Oswalt vs. RHP Tim Lincecum
There was a time that we didn’t really know if Oswalt would ever pitch again. His post game press conference and his history of back problems made us think that there was at least a possibility that his career was over. Last season he joined the team for the final two months of the regular season after being acquired via trade and this season he will join the team from the disabled list. We all hope that Country Roy will pitch like he did at the end of 2010. Oswalt is just 4-6 with a 3.79 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP so far this season. But these numbers might be skewed by Oswalt pitching for over a month with a bad back. We should know rather quickly during his start on Sunday if the zip has returned on his fastball. In 17 career regular season starts versus the Giants, he is 6-8 with a 3.61 ERA. He has made 10 starts at AT&T Park, in those starts he is 3-6 with a 4.18 ERA. Current Giants hitters are a combined 32-131(.244) while facing Oswalt during their careers.
Lincecum start last week was pushed back two days due to a stomach ailment. The Giants said that it was food poisoning. I think there was something wrong with something he used but it wasn’t his food. But regardless of what Timmy does on or off the field, he is still an excellent pitcher. He is currently 9-9 with a 2.77 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP. In his start against the Phillies last week, he gave up 0 runs on just 3 hits in his 6 innings of work. In 8 career regular season starts versus the Phillies, he is 3-1 with a 2.82 ERA. Lincecum has as good of stuff as pitcher in baseball, but I think that what separates Doc from him is that Timmy doesn’t pitch as deep into the games. He only has 1 CG this season and just 8 for his career. While Doc has 6 CG this season and 40 during that same time span. Current Phillies hitters are a combined 27-151(.179) while facing Lincecum during their careers.
The Phillies have not played great baseball in San Francisco over the last few years. That trend continued during the playoffs last October. Last week the Phillies bats were silenced by the great starting pitching that San Fran has. Those games were not played with Hunter Pence and the Phillies hope he will make a big difference. A solid performance by the bats during this series will go a long way in easing the minds of the Philly Phaithful. The Phillies can do more than just that this weekend, a few losses by the Giants could put them out of first place by the end of the weekend. While most phans would love to get some revenge in October and knock the Giants out of the postseason, the Phillies road to the World Series would be a lot easier if Arizona won the West. But I predict the Phillies and Giants will both take 2 games in a hard fought series.
Brotherly Love Nation Writer