Urban: Five juicy subplots for Giants-Phils

August 4, 2011, 4:35 pm
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Aug. 4, 2011


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Mychael Urban

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Phillies check into AT&T Park on Thursday for the opener of a four-game series that features intrigue aplenty in the wake of last week's series victory by the Giants in Philly, and the trades that brought each team one of the shopping season's biggest prizes. Let's take a quick look at five of the most juicy subplots.Uncle Charlie: Pretty good chance the Phils' manager is going to get an earful any time he steps onto the field. Charlie Manuel made the mistake of suggesting that Giants studs Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum are good but not great -- after the pair of aces throttled the Phils at Citizens Bank Park to secure the series victory. Cain and Lincecum close out this series, too, with scheduled starts on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.RELATED: Manuel says Giants staff 'not so overpowering'
Carlos vs. Hunter: Who got the better player? The Giants, who picked up Carlos Beltran -- considered a rental player because he's a free-agent-to-be --- for a top pitching prospect, or the Phillies, who added Hunter Pence as a considerably higher price but will likely have him at least a couple more years. This series won't really provide the answer, but the two players' impact will be highly scrutinized.
The return of Sanchy: Barry Zito is out, Jonathan Sanchez is in. And the wheels turns 'round and 'round. If Sanchez, who gets the ball Friday opposite Vance Worley, who dominated the Giants last Tuesday, looks like the no-hitter-in-waiting lefty that tantalizes fans with his talent, it'll send a significant message to the Phillies that San Francisco's rotation is locked and loaded for the stretch drive and a potential playoff matchup.Home-field advantage: It didn't mean much to for the Phils last week, and the city seemed awfully down and out after their boys dropped the final two games of the series. This is a longer haul, and as was the case in Philly, these games all will be played in front of sellout crowds. The Phils enter on a roll. The Giants just snapped out of a funk. Can the crowd on the shores of McCovey Cove help conjure the magic of last year's NLCS?Fantastic finale: As noted above, Lincecum squares off with Roy Oswalt on Sunday, and that's the best matchup of the series. These guys have locked horns may times before, and Lincecum seems to find a way to come out on top. Don't think Oswalt isn't aware of that, though -- he'll be as pumped for this as any playoff start. But Lincecum is at the top of his game these days, so getting an early lead for either side is paramount. If the series is 2-1 either way, this is going to feel like a Game 7.