Saturday, October 16, 2010

Lincecum outduels Halladay as Giants win Game 1

As Phillies fans, we're used to seeing the Phillies, who had won 7 straight Game 1's heading into the series, taking an early lead in every playoff series. It didn't happen in Game 1 of the NLCS this year, however, as the Giants edged the Phillies, 4-3.

The game was hyped as a showdown between the two best pitchers in the game but it didn't quite live up to that billing. While both Tim Lincecum and Roy Halladay went deep into the game, each pitching 7 innings, neither was particularly sharp, with Lincecum finding himself in several early jams and Halladay uncharacteristically giving up a pair of homers to a very average player. In the end, Lincecum was just slightly more effective than Halladay, as he gave up fewer hits (6 to 8), struck out more batters (8 to 7) and ultimately gave up fewer runs.

Halladay started the game right where he left off in the first round, mowing down the first 7 Giants batters he faced. He quickly lost his no-hitter and even his shutout from there, however, as Cody Ross drilled a ball over the left field wall. Halladay did manage to settle down nicely, at least until Ross shockingly took him deep again in the 5th inning. How a journeyman like Ross, a former Marlin castoff, managed to hit two blasts off of Halladay is perplexing to say the least.

The Phillies offense all came from the longball tonight as Carlos Ruiz hit a solo homer in the 3rd and Jayson Werth hit a 2-run shot in the 6th. As they have been for more of the postseason, the Phillies bats were mostly quiet, as Shane Victorino, Jimmy Rollins and Raul Ibanez all went a combined 0 for 12 with 6 strikeouts. I wondered if we should be worried about the Phillies offense after their anemic showing the first round and nothing that happened tonight makes me feel more confident about how the team is swinging the bats.

While it's an unfamiliar position for the Phillies to trail in a series after Game 1, it's important to remember that it's just one game. Sure, Lincecum didn't pitch like an ace, but when he gets any kind of run support at all he doesn't lose. The Phillies are postseason veterans who will regroup and will put this loss behind them. They know that a win in Game 2 against Jonathan Sanchez erases the sour taste from Game 1.

Still 8 more wins to go for the Phillies and I still believe.
(Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

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