Roy Oswalt, Jimmy Rollins help Phillies even up NLCS

Philadelphia Phillies all-star pitcher Roy Oswalt delivers a pitch during first inning San Francisco Giants-Philadelphia Phillies NLCS Championship game two at Citizens Bank Park October 17, 2010.  .  UPI/John Anderson Photo via Newscom

And that’s why you pony up for a veteran starter like Roy Oswalt when he’s available via trade.

Oswalt was brilliant in Game 2 of the NLCS on Sunday night, striking out nine batters over 8 innings while allowing just one run on three hits in the Phillies’ 6-1 win over the Giants. His only blemish came in the 5th inning when Cody Ross took him deep to tie the game at, 1-1. But Oswalt has nothing to be ashamed of there, because Ross has proved this postseason that he’s the greatest baseball player ever to have walked the face of the earth. (The home run off Oswalt was his fourth in the playoffs and his third in back-to-back nights in Philadelphia.)

It was also a great night for shortstop Jimmy Rollins, who has struggled mightily at the plate of late. In the seventh inning, he drove in three runs on a double to deep right off Giants’ reliever Sergio Castillo, who was trying to mop up the mess left by starter Jonathan Sanchez (who allowed Oswalt to reach on a base hit) and Ramon Ramirez (who gave up a single to Placido Polanco, which scored Oswalt to give Philly a 3-1 lead). Rollins’ double scored Chase Utley (who had been intentionally walked), Polanco and Jayson Werth (also intentionally walked) to essentially put the game out of reach at, 6-1.

For everyone but Ross, it was a night to forget for the Giants, who seemed rather content with taking Game 1 of the series and heading back to San Francisco after earning a split. Granted, that’s what road teams are supposed to do in a seven-game series and the loss certainly doesn’t diminish what the Giants did on Saturday. But they had a huge opportunity to put the Phillies in a hole and instead they came out rather flat. Even Ross’ home run was short lived as Sanchez gave up a run in the bottom half of the inning.

It’ll be interesting to see if Bruce Bochy makes any changes to his lineup for Game 3. Pablo Sandoval drew a walk in the top of the 8th after coming in to replace Mike Fontenot in a double switch in the bottom of the 7th. Maybe it’s time to give Sandoval a start to see if he can’t shake out of his season-long funk and provide the Giants’ offense with a spark. Andres Torres is a huge reason why San Fran is still playing right now, but he looks completely overmatched at the plate and the Giants don’t lose anything with Aaron Rowand in the outfield. Rowand has been brutal at the plate this year, but he has postseason experience (he won a World Series with the White Sox earlier this decade) and would be motivated to beat his former team. (The only problem is that if you bench Torres, the Giants don’t have a true leadoff hitter.)

Now isn’t the time to panic, but the Giants need more offense. Matt Cain will oppose Cole Hamels in Game 3 on Tuesday afternoon.

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What has happened to the Phillies’ offense?

There’s simply no excuse for a lineup that consists of Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Jayson Werth, Raul Ibanez and Shane Victorino to score only 13 runs in 10 games. Yet somehow, it has.

In their last 14 games, the Phillies have scored three or fewer runs 12 times. Howard went deep on Tuesday night in a 7-3 loss to the Braves, but that was the first home run that Philadelphia has hit in 68 innings.

So what’s the problem?

Hitting coach Milt Thompson’s resume speaks for itself. In his first five seasons with the Phillies, the club led the National League in home runs, RBI, runs scored, total bases, and extra-base hits. He suddenly hasn’t forgotten how to coach, yet the Phillies have suddenly forgotten how to hit.

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2010 MLB Preview: NL East

In order to help get you ready for the MLB season, we’re doing division-by-division rankings with quick overviews on how each club could fair in 2010. Next to each team, you’ll also find a corresponding number written in parenthesis, which indicates where we believe that club falls in a league-wide power ranking. Be sure to check back throughout the next two weeks leading up to the season, as we will be updating our content daily. Enjoy.

All 2010 MLB Preview Content | AL East Preview | AL Central Preview | AL West Preview | NL East | NL Central | NL West

Next up is the NL East.

1. Philadelphia Phillies (2)
Much like the Yankees in the American League, it’s hard to find bad things to say about the Phillies. They’re the three-time defending NL East champions and considering they’re ready to bring back the same core of players that got them to the World Series the past two years, there’s no reason to doubt them. Oh, and they added Roy Halladay. Roy, I’m going to dominate your face for nine innings, Halladay. If Cole Hamels rebounds and J.A. Happ’s 2009 wasn’t a fluke, the Phillies won’t suffer a setback this season. In fact, the pitching doesn’t even have to be that great with the likes of Jimmy Rollins, Placido Polanco, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Jayson Werth and Raul Ibanez taking up the first six spots in the order. The problem, however, is that Hamels might not bounce back and Happ’s ’09 season may have been a fluke. There’s also that nagging Brad Lidge closer issue that could haunt this club as well. That said, odds are that the Fighting Phils will be right back at the top of the NL East again this season. They’re too good, too talented and too experienced to fold and they have a great chance to reclaim their title back from the Yankees.

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Sports Jack-O-Lanterns-O-Fun

Some people have entirely too much time on their hands.

Placido Polanco

Mike Holmgren

Nothing says Halloween like having Placido Polanco or Mike Holmgren’s face carved into your pumpkin.

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