This is my first Friday Game of the Week debate in quite some time. Generally speaking, the game of the week is a football game, and if that fits your fancy feel free to give the articles by Bleacher Fan and Sports Geek a look. But Saturday night’s game one of the National League Championship Series was too good to pass up!
Obviously, these two teams have outstanding pitching staffs. And they have certainly turned it up a notch – actually two notches – in the post-season to this point. In the first round sweep of the Reds the Phillies totally dominated a good hitting Cincinnati team allowing just three earned runs in 27 innings pitched. That’s a 1.00 ERA. That’s impressive stuff.
As for the Giants, it took them four games to get by a banged up Braves team, but their pitching staff was just as dominant with a 1.66 ERA over the four games.
Now we have quite a treat in store for us Saturday night at Citizens Bank Ballpark. Roy Halladay versus Tim Lincecum. The Doc versus The Freak. Short hair versus long hair. The button down shirt against the Zac Brown toboggan (Tim’s version). These two guys have had the most dominant performances of the post-season so far (with apologies to Cliff Lee), and they’ll be going head to head tomorrow night. It’s hard to believe it’ll be each pitcher’s second career post-season start each.
If you like pitching, you’re probably going to enjoy this series. If you like pitching, you’re definitely going to enjoy this game. The Giants did not get to the playoffs on the strength of their offense. They were ninth in the National League in runs scored, and in the NLDS they hit a paltry .212. Strangely, you would think the Phillies would be an offensive powerhouse with that lineup and playing in a telephone booth, but they too have struggled at times on offense. The Phillies actually only hit .212 on offense during the NLDS. It appears the pitching will limit the hitting in this matchup as well.
Halladay is of course coming off his no hitter against the Reds. But some have argued that Lincecum’s 14 strikeout performance against the Braves was more dominant, which I totally don’t buy. There’s no doubt Lincecum has turned his season around though, thanks in small part to a small alteration in his in-between starts routine, and he’s been back to his dominant self. As a guy who grew up a Braves fan, I love dominant pitching. This is different, though. Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine dominated by mixing changing speeds and hitting their spots (John Smoltz was a power pitcher). Both of these guys are power pitchers and are fully capable of powerfully dominating a game.
It’s going to be a fun series to watch. Most experts have the Phillies controlling the series, but if Lincecum and his boys can steal one tomorrow night by knocking off Doc Halladay, then it could be a totally different series.