The season ended a lot sooner than most of us expected last October. Behind our starting rotation everyone expected a third straight World Series appearance and the 2nd parade down Broad Street during the last 3 years. The image of Howard looking at strike three still gives most phans a sick feeling in their stomach. But this season is a new season and our expectations are even higher. There is no need to dig up the bitter feelings from last season but some regular season revenge would be nice. This is the only trip the Giants make to the City of Brotherly Love this season. The teams will start a 3 game series tomorrow night at the Bank.
Today’s loss was not what everyone wanted coming into the day. We had Cliff Lee on the hill against an average veteran righty Aaron Harang. The table was set for the Phightin’s to take the final game of the series and sweep the 4 game set. But it wasn’t in the cards for the Phillies today. The series win is 9th consecutive series victory for the best team in baseball. They enter the series with a MLB best 64-37 record and a 5.5 game lead over the Braves in the division.
Meet the Giants
The Giants have had a good but not great season as the defending champs. They are currently 59-43 and have a 4 game lead over the Diamondbacks in the NL West. Their season was drastically altered when their best hitter Buster Posey got hurt on a violent collision at home plate. His season is likely over and it has made an already weak lineup even worse. Some have called for an end to home plate collisions but I think it would be a drastic over reaction by the sport if any rules are changed because one star got injured.
San Fran had a lot of trouble scoring runs last season and things have been even worse for them this year. Without Posey they are now 24th in homeruns, 25th in batting average and 26th in runs scored. Just like last season, the reason for the Giants success is their excellent pitching staff. They enter the series with 3.08 ERA, which is the best in the majors. Their rotation might get the most press but their excellent pen may be a bigger part of their success. The San Fran pen has the 2nd best ERA in the game just behind the Padres. Their pen is anchored by the crazy and odd Brian Wilson but relievers like Romo, Lopez and Casilla also play big roles.
Tuesday July 26, 7:05: RHP Vance Worley vs. RHP Tim Lincecum
People keep expecting Worley to fall back to earth, but the young righty keeps putting up zero’s on the scoreboard. Vanimal has arguable been the team’s best starter over the last month. In his last 6 starts, Worley is 4-0 with a 0.94 ERA! The rest of the rookie class had head start on Vance in the rookie of the year race but he is slowly getting right in the middle of the race. Worley is now 6-1 with a 2.02 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP so far this season. If you take away his poor start in Queens in May, he is 5-1 with a 1.37 ERA! Tomorrow night’s game will be the 1st time that Worley will face the Giants or any of their hitters.
Lincecum has received his fair share of nicknames during his young career and Philadelphia gave him a few more during last year’s NLCS. Even with all of the jokes about his hair and teeth, every phan knows that Timmy Jim can get hitters out. He had a slow start to the season but Lincecum has come on strong over the last few weeks as he has given up just 7 runs in his last 6 starts. The 27 year old righty is now 8-8 with a 2.90 ERA and 1.20 WHIP. He has made 7 career regular season starts versus the Phillies, in those games he is just 2-1 with a 3.17 ERA. Three of those starts were at Citizens Bank Park, in those games he is 0-1 with a 3.66 ERA. Current Phillies hitters are a combined 20-109(.183) while facing Lincecum during their careers.
Wednesday July 27, 7:05: LHP Cole Hamels vs. LHP Barry Zito
Hamels was back his 2011 self during his start on Friday Night against the Padres. He was able to bounce back after a poor start and dominate the weak San Diego lineup over 8 innings. Cole struck out 5 of the first 6 batters and ended the game with 10 strikeouts. With the old school uni’s Friday night, Hamels had a very strange resemblance to a certain “Lefty” who used to dominate opposing hitters. They even showed a side by side comparison of Hamels and Carlton on the telecast. He is now 12-5 with a 2.62 ERA and a 0.96 WHIP. Cole has been able to dominate hitters during his young career, but he has always struggled while facing the Giants. In 8 career regular season starts, he is 4-2 with a 4.67 ERA. Current Giants hitters are a combined 25-85(.294) while facing Hamels during their careers.
Before the 2007 season, the Giants made a big free agent splash and signed lefty Barry Zito to a 7 year $126 million contract. At the time they thought they were getting one of the game’s best pitchers to anchor their rotation for the next 7 seasons. Unfortunately for the Giants, Zito has been a shadow of the pitcher he was in Oakland. He is now in his 5th season with Giants and he has failed to win more than 12 games or have an ERA under 4 in any of them. They keep giving him opportunities to redeem himself because of their huge financial investment but he has continually failed. Through 7 starts this season, he is just 3-2 with a 4.78 ERA and a 1.27 WHIP. Zito has made 5 career starts against the Phillies, in those starts he is 3-2 with a 4.03 ERA. Two of those starts have come at the Bank, in those games he is 1-1 with a 3.27 ERA. Current Phillies hitters are a combined 17-63(.270) while facing Zito during their careers.
Thursday July 28, 7:05: RHP Kyle Kendrick vs. RHP Matt Cain
Kendrick was cruising through the first 5 innings in his start on Saturday afternoon. The bats gave him an early 3-0 lead and it looked like he would be able to hold down the weak hitting Padres. But then in the 6th inning, he gave up 2 homeruns and left the game with the score tied 3-3. In the end it wasn’t that bad of a start of the 26 year old righty. He is just a spot starter and his job is to just keep the team in the game. With Oswalt nearing his return to the rotation, his starts with the team for the rest of the season will be limited. Kendrick is now 5-4 with a 3.45 ERA and a 1.32 WHIP so far this season. He has pitched in 2 regular season games versus the Giants, in those games he is 0-0 with a 3.38 ERA. Current Giants hitters are a combined 7-24(.292) while facing Kendrick during their careers.
Cain used to be known as one of the best number 2 pitchers in the game. This is a title that he had before the Phillies formed their rotation. I don’t think he is as good as Halladay, Lee or Hamels or even his teammate Lincecum but that doesn’t mean that Cain isn’t a very good pitcher. He is coming off of a poor start where he gave up 4 runs and 8 hits in a 4-2 loss to the Brewers. So far this season he is 8-6 with a 3.06 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP. The 26 year old has not fared very well in his five regular season starts versus the Phillies. In those games he is 0-3 with a 6.23 ERA. Current Phillies hitters are a combined 7-24(.292) while facing Cain during their careers.
At the end of the regular season, this series shouldn’t play a factor in whether or not the Phillies make the postseason but it would put a smile on most phans face to get a little bit of revenge. If I don’t have to see that cave man looking reliever pointing to the sky (he does it to honor his father but it still annoys me) during this series, I will be a happy person. This series will do very little in repaying the Giants for last season’s NLCS but you obviously want to make a statement against one of the better teams in the game. I predict the Phillies will continue their trend of taking series but not sweeping and win 2 of the 3 games in the series.
Brotherly Love Nation Writer