Flash back to last October. Game 6. First and second. Two out. Ryan Howard up. Season on the line….This happened.
Wanted to get that picture out-of-the-way now. Anyway, the San Francisco Giants are back in town for the first time since that happened. Currently at 59-43, the Giants continue to define the logics of baseball, scoring the fourth fewest runs in the majors. They are 25th in batting average, 25th in OBP, and 24th in slugging percentage. So how are they 16 games over .500 and 4 games up in the National League West? They are second in baseball in least runs allowed. (behind the Phillies) The team follows the same formula of their championship team last season, being first in MLB in ERA. Offensively, the Giants are led by Pablo Sandoval, who’s having a wonderful comeback year, hitting .303 with 9 home runs (tied for the team lead) and 35 RBIs. Aubrey Huff leads the team with 47 RBIs, but is having a down year, hitting only .240. Also, in case you were wondering, Pat Burrell is hitting .233 with 7 home runs and 21 RBIs. For the Giants’ pitching staff, they are led by Ryan Vogelsong. (Wait, time out! Who?) Vogelsong is 8-1 this season with a 2.10 ERA. For his career, Ryan has a below .500 record (18-23, 4.96 ERA) and has played for Pirates, Tigers, a team in Japan, and even played for the Phillies’ AAA affiliate Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs last season. Pretty safe to say, he’s got comeback player of the year wrapped up.
Game 1- Tim Lincecum (8-8, 2.90 ERA) vs. Vance Worley (6-1, 2.02 ERA). You know you’re a great pitcher when 8-8 with 2.90 ERA is a down year. The two-time NL Cy Young award winner is 4th in the NL in strikeouts, 5th in least walks allowed, and 7th in ERA. Since he got lit up by the Reds on June 11th, he has an ERA of 1.84, but is only 3-3. For his career, Lincecum is 2-1 with 3.17 ERA and 54 strikeouts in 48 innings pitched against the Phillies. Interesting fact, Lincecum made his major league debut against the Phillies, giving up five runs in 4 1/3 innings of work. Shockingly, only one Phillie has had decent success against the Freak. Ryan Howard is hitting .280 against him in 30 at bats, including 3 home runs. Vance Worley pitched outstanding in his last start in the blazing heat of Chicago. Worley pitched 8 innings, striking out seven, giving up an earned run. In his last six starts, Vanimal is 3-0 with a microscopic ERA of .94. Vance has never faced the San Francisco Giants.
Game 2- Barry Zito (3-2, 4.78 ERA) vs. Cole Hamels (12-5, 2.62 ERA) LOL Barry Zito’s contract. Okay, now that that’s out-of-the-way…. Zito was skipped in his last start after giving up 8 runs to the San Diego Padres on July 16th. Once Jonathan Sanchez gets back from the DL, Zito will become the most expensive 5th starter in baseball history. Barry is 3-2 with an ERA slightly over 4 against the Phillies in his career. Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley have had the most success against Zito, each hitting over .330 against him. Interesting stat- Raul Ibanez is 9-49 against Barry Zito in his career. I wonder if he’s going to play? Cole Hamels continued his Cy Young case, going eight innings against the Padres, allowing just one run. Hamels is tied for first in the NL in wins and WHIP, 6th strikeouts, and 5th in ERA. Cole hasn’t been great against the Giants, posting an ERA of 4.67. Cody Ross absolutely owns Cole Hamels (one writer on this blog could make the case he owns the entire Phillies pitching staff) with 4 of his 9 hits being home runs. Miguel Tejeda is also 9-15 lifetime off of Hamels.
Game 3-Matt Cain (8-6, 3.08 ERA) vs. Kyle Kendrick (5-4, 3.45 ERA) Cain’s three hitter in Game 3 of the NLCS last year really put the Phillies behind the eight ball. However, in the regular season he’s winless against the Phillies with an ERA over 6. (Baseball is a goofy game isn’t it?) Even though Cain wasn’t great in his last start against the Brewers, he’s posted an ERA of 2 in his last three starts and has allowed just one home run in last nine starts. Chase Utley has three home runs off of Cain while also hitting .467 against him. Jimmy Rollins has also had success off of Matt Cain, hitting 6-10. Kyle Kendrick pitched five shutout innings against the Padres before he semi-imploded in the 6th. He gave up two home runs and three runs before being pulled with 2 outs. Kendrick hasn’t been that bad as a starter, however with Roy Oswalt going on a rehab assignment Wednesday, Kyle’s time as a starter is running out.
Prediction: While the fans will make a bigger deal of this series than it is, this is just a series in July. If it were anything bigger, would Barry Zito, Vance Worley, and Kyle Kendrick be starting in it? No. The Phillies are incredible at home and have won their last nine series so they’ll take two out of three from the Giants.