Last night the Giants had the opportunity to close out the NLCS in front of a booming home crowd and advance to the World Series for the first time since 2002. Unfortunately, Aubrey Huff’s clankmitt and the Philadelphia Phillies had other ideas. With last night’s 4-2 loss, the Giants will now head into the heart of darkness — Philadelphia — to try and win one game over the remaining 2. Even with the Giants leading the series three games to Philly’s two, I can’t say I’m appeased by the thought of trying to win in Philly.
But, before doom and gloom prematurely sets in, here’s a few numbers from last night’s loss.
* Seven - That’s how many the Giants left on base. For most of the game the Giants did a pretty good job of putting runners on, especially against Halladay, who they took a pretty good approach against. In the 4th, after back-to-back doubles, Cody Ross made the final out of the inning at third base after trying to advance on a Sandoval flyball to RF. Jayson Werth, owner of a great throwing arm, threw a bolt to third that got Ross out by plenty. You’ll have to bear with me here, but after that play I thought Tim McCarver made a nice point: You really don’t gain much by taking the extra-base in that situation. Ross has decent foot speed, and he’s likely to score from second base on most base hits. So, I’m not sure the reward was worth the gamble.
For most of the night, the Giants were one big hit away from putting some runs on the board. In the 5th with Andres Torres on third base with two outs, Aubrey Huff hit a swinging bunt to end the inning. In the 6th with runners on 1st and 2nd, Juan Uribe struck out to end the inning. The 6th inning was really the last time the Giants had a good chance to score, as the Madson-Lidge pairing combined for 4 strikeouts over the 8th/9th innings.
* Four - How many times Andres Torres got on base. Torres put together a nice game — 2 hits, 1 walk — as the leadoff man. He also got on base in the 5th on an error by Ryan Howard. It was good to see since Torres has been slumping in the playoffs — hitting just .143/.200/.143 in 31 plate appearances prior to last night’s game. He’s the only Giant with plus-speed on the base paths and I really like the Torres-Sanchez combo at the top of the lineup. The Giants desperately need Torres to be productive.
* Two – The Giants made 2 errors in Game Five. Most costly was Huff’s error in the 3rd inning. Shane Victorino hit a hard groundball right at Huff that ricocheted off of his glove/knee and into CF, allowing Carlos Ruiz — who was previous hit by a pitch — to score from 2B. The Giants have now committed 3 errors NLCS and they also committed 3 errors in the NLDS. The defense has been a positive for the team this year and the Giants will need to play cleaner ball if they want to beat the Phillies.
The Giants will play Game Six in Philadelphia on Saturday, October 23rd, at 6:30 PM EST. Jonathan Sanchez will be opposed by Roy Oswalt. In Sanchez’s Game Two start against the Phillies he battled some first inning jitters — throwing 35 pitches — but he eventually settled down and threw 6 innings while striking out 7. Oswalt dominated the Giants in Game Two, throwing 8 innings of 1-run baseball while striking out 9. Like most of this series, it should be a good pitching match-up.