I think that their excellent pitching and a unique home field get the Giants one more win than the Dodgers got in either of the last two seasons, but I'm not going to believe an NL team can take the Phillies out until I see it. PHILLIES IN SIX.The Phils are the champs and they remain the champs until someone delivers the KO. Philadelphia's core from their 2008 World Series win is mostly intact, a mix of stars and solid players: 1B Ryan Howard, 2B Chase Utley, SS Jimmy Rollins, CF Shane Victorino, RF Jayson Werth, C Carlos Ruiz, lefty Cole Hamels, righty Joe Blanton, and closer Brad Lidge. The 2009 NL champs replaced LF Pat Burrell with Raul Ibanez and the 2010 team replaced 3B Pedro Feliz with Placido Polanco. The 2009 club featured the indomitable Cliff Lee but it wasn't enough to overcome the Yankees in the Series as Hamels and the aging Pedro Martinez were ineffective. This year the Phils swapped out Roy Halladay for Lee and grabbed Roy Oswalt to bolster the rotation. There seems to be a consensus that this is the best 1-2-3 punch in baseball.
Hey, sure, it's a good one. No argument. But the best? Giants pitchers gave up 50 runs in September. That's 26 games, my friends. FIFTY runs. That's ridiculous. At what point do you say one team has a better rotation than another team? The Phils were 21-6 in September, scoring a whopping 142 runs and giving up 94. Now 94 is damn good. Most teams would love to give up only 3.48 rpg. But 94 ain't as good as 50. It just ain't. So forgive me if I call "bullshit" and say the San Francisco Giants have the best starting pitching in baseball. I'll take the Giants 1-2-3 as at the very least even against them and our 1-2-3-4 is superior. Throw in the better bullpen and you are talking about the best staff in the majors.
The problem with the Giants, as we all know, is their lack of offensive firepower. They hit a lot of homers, especially late in the year, but they just don't put enough guys on base and don't sustain rallies, hitting into an average of one double play per game. The Phils are known for offense and they thrive in their bandbox park. So, how does a one-armed fighter win a match against a guy throwing combinations? For starters, you never let him land a punch. If the Giants want to win, they have to avoid mistakes. They have to make their pitches and field their positions. They absolutely cannot give away runs. The longer the games go without scoring, the longer the series goes toward seven games, the more the odds will swing in the Giants favor. The Giants win this series by a long, slow, attritional grind. They can't slug it out, especially on the road. They have to wait for their opportunities and they have to seize them with the grace and sangfroid of a cat burglar.
The Giants have no expectations. The Phillies are thinking "dynasty." The pressure is all on them. If we get to Game Four and it's 2-2, all the pundits will be talking about will be Philadelphia's failures and Philadelphia's problems. No one will notice the Giants. Hey--this is a 92 win club. A division champion, not some AAA team. The rest of baseball seems to think it doesn't matter who plays the NLCS, the Phils will win. And that's exactly how to beat the mighty Phillies--play baseball. Encapsulate the game--one pitch, one at-bat, one out, one inning at a time. Be relaxed and don't play tight, nervous, "oh-my-god-they're-so-good" baseball. They have the weight of being the favorites. The Giants can relish the underdog role. The tortoise beat the hare after all, and David beat Goliath. Remember that. And if anyone asks you if the Giants can beat the Phils you say:
"YES WE CAN."