The two league championship series had some striking similarities this year. Both featured the defending pennant winner facing an underdog team that hadn't been in the postseason for roughly a decade, and both saw that underdog take a 3-1 lead only to lose Game 5. The similarities end there, however. One obvious difference is that, when the wild card Yankees won Game 5, they forced a Game 6 on the road. Yet, when the Phillies won Game 5, they sent the series back home to Philadelphia.
More importantly, though the Yankees did manage a pair of wins, the ALCS wasn't really close. The Rangers outscored the Yankees 38-19 over the six games, and 32-18 over the first five. Meanwhile, in this series, the Phillies have actually outscored the Giants 18-16 in the first five games of this NLCS despite trailing San Francisco 3-2 in games.
That the Giants could hold a 3-2 lead in the series while scoring two fewer runs than the Yankees did in the first five games of the ALCS also tells you how different these two series have been. It's no surprise that the NLCS has been dominated by pitching, though it is somewhat surprising that the powerful Phillies offense has been almost as impotent as the Giants' bailing-wire and chewing-gum attack. The Giants have hit just .220/.279/.323 in this series, the Phillies just .209/.304/.316, giving credence to that old baseball adage that good pitching stops good hitting.
For all the well-deserved hype that has surrounded the two
Oswalt was dominant in Game 2, holding the Giants to three hits and three walks over eight innings, the only San Francisco tally coming on a
The Giants got their revenge on Oswalt in Game 4 when, with the game tied 5-5 heading into the bottom of the ninth, Oswalt hubristically asked for the ball from his manager,
Oswalt shouldn't have needed a chance to redeem himself, but he does, and he gets that chance Saturday. Counting that relief outing, this will be his seventh appearance against the Giants this year. During the regular season, he turned in four quality starts against San Francisco, three while with the Astros (all losses in which Houston scored a total of four runs) and one at Citizens Bank Park in mid-August. In that last start, he held the Giants to three runs over seven innings while striking out seven against no walks and picking up the win. Two of the runs he allowed in that game scored on solo homers by
Sanchez has likewise pitched well in three starts against the Phillies this year, two of them coming in the regular season. Sanchez allowed just two runs over 13 innings in those two starts, the more recent being eight dominant innings in San Francisco in August. Add in his Game 2 performance and Sanchez has a 1.89 ERA in 19 innings against Philadelphia this year with 20 strikeouts, but also 10 walks.