Dominant Roy Oswalt, Clutch Jimmy Rollins Help Phillies Even Series With Giants

October 18, 2010 by  
Filed under Fan News

When Philadelphia Phillies manager Charlie Manuel walked to the mound in the eighth inning, talked with his starting pitcher, and walked back to the dugout, as a San Francisco Giants fan I was hoping this would be his Grady Little moment. Little, once the manager of the Boston Red Sox, infamously left ace Pedro Martinez on the mound in the 2003 ALCS and watched him implode against the New York Yankees.

But with the way Roy Oswalt was pitching, it was a fool’s hope. He was clicking on all cylinders, and there was little the Giants could do to make Manuel pay.

Oswalt was what Roy Halladay was not in Game 1: stifling. On the other side, Giants left-hander Jonathan Sanchez, who struck out 11 Atlanta Braves in his first postseason start, struggled out of the gate. Sanchez was a very dependable third starter this season for the staff that led the major leagues in ERA, winning 13 games. But if there was one knock on him it was his wildness. He led the majors with 96 walks in 193 innings, a concerning ratio. And the negative managed to rear its ugly head, in the form of three first-inning walks and 35 painful pitches.

He was all over the place, but the home plate umpire was too, calling clear balls strikes and clear strikes balls. One blown call came with the bases loaded. Entering his appearance against Jimmy Rollins, the 27-year old  had struck out two, walked two, and witnessed a throwing error by third baseman Mike Fontenot that brought Aubrey Huff well off the first-base bag. Forty-six thousand were on their feet as Rollins dug in, then they cheered profusely as umpire Dan Iassogna inexplicably called a 3-1 pitch that clearly nipped the inside corner a ball, allowing Chase Utley to walk home for the game’s first run.

Iassogna gave pitchers the outside corner throughout, but he was far from kind when they painted the inner portion. For Sanchez’s pitch to reach the inside corner, as a lefty the ball has to cross the plate somehow. But, Sanchez somehow managed to put that blown call behind him and allow just the single run, striking out Raul Ibañez to end the threat.

When the bases were loaded, the Giants were wary of Sanchez’s rough start, as reliever Guillermo Mota was loosening in the bullpen. But Sanchez forced Mota to sit back down in limiting the damage, and the bullpen didn’t stir for a while as he settled into a groove. A lot of pitches were thrown. Some more walks were issued and hits were allowed, but he persevered, putting up three straight zeros and then was rightfully rewarded for his efforts by an unsurprising bat.

Oswalt had cruised through the first four innings, pitching very effectively and economically to keep his pitch count low entering the fifth. With one out in that inning, Cody Ross stepped to the plate. The same bearded Cody Ross who slugged two inside fastballs in nearly the exact same section of the left-field seats in Game 1. Oswalt missed away with the first pitch, but then made a costly mistake.

A fastball was fired in, approaching the inside corner, right in Ross’ wheelhouse. And he didn’t miss it, crushing the pitch to nearly the same exact spot as Saturday night’s two. It was an amazing scene, and for the third time in as many nights groans from Phillies fans and screams of joy from Giants fans could be heard after liftoff.

Groans turned to cheers and cheers screams of joy turned to groans as Philadelphia quickly fought back, receiving a leadoff double by Shane Victorino just past a diving Fontenot at third and two sacrifice flies by their big hitters to snag a 2-1 lead. San Francisco now had to get another run out of Oswalt to have a chance of heading home with a 2-0 series advantage, but Oswalt made sure Ross’ majestic shot was all his opponent would muster.

His fastball was lively, sitting at a deceptively quick 93 on the gun all night. His sinker was sharp, and his changeup had its late movement. Sanchez managed to pitch into the seventh, which was a tremendous feat given his first-inning woes and early high-pitch count, but Oswalt was the man of the match. Tim Lincecum unquestionably led his Giants in Game 1, and Oswalt did the same for his Phillies, striking out hitters right and left to put together a superb outing.

Despite his excellence, it was only a one-run margin. That was, until the seventh, when the bullpen fell apart. Manager Bruce Bochy, who trusted Sanchez enough to pitch him in the do-or-die 162nd game against the San Diego Padres, sent him back out there to only pull him one batter in. His 100th pitch was slapped up the middle by Oswalt of all hitters, and then Sanchez, receiving a bevy of high-fives, took his seat on the bench and looked on in horror as the bullpen imploded.

After his replacement, Ramon Ramirez, allowed the Phillies third run to score, Rollins delivered the crushing blow against Santiago Casilla, lacing a double into the right-center gap to plate three teammates. The lead was now 6-1, and Philadelphia would go on to win by that margin, as Oswalt pitched the eighth and Ryan Madson handled the ninth to even the series.

The series now heads to San Francisco, with the Phillies bats hot and every Giant except for Ross not. He can’t do it all, and if the Giants are going to reach their first World Series since 2002 they need other bats to wake up so Oswalt’s performance can’t be duplicated.


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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

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