Giants, Phillies Gear Up For Another NLCS Pitching Duel
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Phillies manager Charlie Manuel has sized up Cody Ross pretty well. Particularly when the San Francisco outfielder visits Citizens Bank Park.
“Cody’s about like anybody else,” Manuel joked Monday. “They walk in that ballpark and he wants to come up and talk to me or talk to guys around the cage. Actually he’s looking at the fences and how far, how close they look. He’s thinking to himself, ‘Man, I hope I’m in the lineup today.’ … He enjoys to play against us and that helps him to relax. And he gets up for us.”
Now, the Giants’ recent slugging star and his teammates get to swing into action at AT&T Park, facing the Phillies in Game 3 of the NL championship series on Tuesday afternoon. Ross has already homered three times in the best-of-seven series, tied at 1-all.
Once again, the pitching matchup drew most of the pregame attention: Cole Hamels vs. Matt Cain.
“When we go 1-1 right now and you’re sitting there and you’ve got Cain and Hamels going tomorrow in a swing game, you won’t see that three days in a row with six pitchers that start the game that good,” Manuel said. “It’s rare and it’s going to be a heck of a game. The Giants are here because of their pitching and I think we’re here basically because of our pitching. Our offense kind of sputtered this year.”
Hamels, the 2008 World Series MVP, follows Philadelphia’s two star Roys — Halladay and Oswalt — in the rotation. Cain was pushed back to start the third game after Tim Lincecum and Jonathan Sanchez pitched the first two.
Cain will be working on 10 days’ rest since he pitched Game 2 of the division series against Atlanta on Oct. 8, the longest layoff of the right-hander’s career.
Hamels, who bounced back from a tough 2009 by going 12-11 with a 3.06 ERA this season, pitched a five-hit shutout against Cincinnati on Oct. 10 in his last outing.
“Postseason is where it’s at. It’s the ultimate time to really show what kind of player you are, what kind of pitcher you are,” Hamels said. “These are the types of games and types of moments when you set foot in spring training it’s the ultimate goal for the whole team to go out and enjoy.”
The Giants managed only four hits in losing to Oswalt on Sunday. They know they will have to produce more to upset the two-time reigning NL champions.
“Tomorrow is absolutely important,” Ross said. “We’re coming home. We like playing at home, Matt on the mound. We have all the confidence in the world in him.”
Giants manager Bruce Bochy said he was considering starting former Phillies fan favorite Aaron Rowand in center field in place of the struggling Andres Torres, who is 1 for 9 in the series and 3 for 25 overall in these playoffs. Torres went 0 for 4 and struck out all four times on Sunday night.
Bochy planned to talk to both players after their workout.
“Andres, he’s battling it right now,” Bochy said. “It may be time for a change here.”
Bochy was still waiting on results from an MRI exam on Juan Uribe’s bruised left wrist, which made the infielder a late scratch Sunday. If Uribe can’t play Tuesday, Pablo Sandoval would move into the lineup at third for his first NLCS start and Edgar Renteria would stay at shortstop.
San Francisco is now home for three games with its raucous, towel-waving sellout crowd ready to cheer the team’s first NLCS since slugger and eventual home run king Barry Bonds carried the Giants to a runner-up World Series finish in 2002.
“You just feel comfortable pitching at home,” Cain said. “Just try to relax and try to almost enjoy it and soak it all in, to try to take the nerves off a little bit.”
Manuel sure hopes being home in Northern California will make banged-up Jimmy Rollins more at ease. Rollins, the Phillies’ three-time Gold Glove shortstop from across the bay in Alameda, is 3 for 18 during this run — going 1 of 11 against the Reds in the division series and 2 for 7 with three strikeouts so far against the Giants.
“We need for him to play good,” Manuel said. “I’m sure he’s going to be wanting to play good.”
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.