Urban: NLCS Playoff Blog, Game 6

October 23, 2010, 9:47 pm
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Oct. 23, 2010


UPDATED: 7:25 P.M.
Mychael Urban

PHILADELPHIA-- And now its crystal clear: The Giants and Phillies cant stand each other, and the National League Championship Series is better for it.

The first three games played out without much emotional incident, but everything changed with Juan Uribes game-winning sacrifice fly in Game 4.

The Phillies were not phond of Uribes little bat flip, and a few players told me they werent all that big on Aubrey Huffs triumphant pose upon scoring the winning run.

Then came the Game 5 stare-downs between Pat Burrell and Roy Halladay, who glared at each other from across the diamond like gunslingers at 50 paces.

Game 6, of course, brought the previously blogged-about Jonathan SanchezChase Utley dustup, and just moments ago we saw Roy Oswalt cast a highly disapproving glance at Edgar Renteria, who tried to sell a fairly obvious foul ball as a hit-by-pitch.

Playoff baseball with an edge. Rare but welcome.

UPDATED: 6:22 P.M.
The Jonathan Sanchez who used to aggravate Giants fans to no end showed up tonight, and it wasnt pretty. In the biggest game of his life, he could neither control his pitches or his emotions.After giving up a pair of runs in the first inning, in large part the result of a one-out walk and a wild pitch, Sanchez cruised through the second inning but came apart at the seams in the third.It was a shutdown inning for the Giants, who had tied the game in the top of the frame, but all Sanchez did was shut down his own night when the better route would have been to shut up.First, he issued a leadoff walk during which he appeared in desperate need of a GPS to find the strike zone. Then he drilled Chase Utley in the upper back, and when the ball bounced high in the air and back up next to Utley as he made his way to first base, Phillys All-Star second baseman casually flipped the ball in Sanchezs direction. Was it necessary? Not really. But it wasnt malicious or totally out of line. If anything, it was something along the lines of, Is this yours? You seem to have lost it.But Sanchez couldnt let it go. Just had to say something. So when Utley reached first base, Sanchez told him what he thought of the toss. Apparently he thought it was bull droppings, but with a different word instead of droppings.Surprised that hed been called out, Utley said, Whats bulldroppings?And thats all it took. Sanchez took a few steps toward first, and suddenly both benches were empty. No punches were thrown, of course. Rare is the bench-clearing in baseball that results in anything more than a push here, a shove there, perhaps a recipe or two exchanged on the sly.But Sanchez kept everyone on the field by continuing to make a scene of himself, and that was all Giants manager Bruce Bochy had to see. He pulled his starter right then and there. So heres the recap. Sanchez lost his command, lost his composure and lost his shot at leading his team into history. Embarrassing.UPDATED: 2:30 P.M.The lineups for Game 6 of the NLCS have been posted, and theres atleast one spot in each thats second-guessable before the game evenstarts.For the Phillies, its moving Jimmy Rollins back to the top of the order, up from sixth.Makes sense from here. Rollins has been swinging the bat quite a bitbetter over the past few days, and he had a huge game here in Game 2.Hes also a potential beast on the bases, and Jonathan Sanchez isntexactly a savant when it comes to controlling the running game.As for the Giants, manager Bruce Bochy has decided to go with EdgarRenteria and Juan Uribe on the left side of the infield instead ofgiving Pablo Sandoval another start at third base.A few different forces at work here. The RenteriaUribe combo is betterdefensively, Renteria has better career numbers against Philliesstarter Roy Oswalt than does Sandoval, and Bochy, as we all know, loveshim some veterans. And Sandovals home-road splits are jarring in favor of home.That said, Sandoval swings much better from the left side than theright, and facing Oswalt would have him in the left box. Theres alsothe charge factor, as in Sandoval seems to put a charge into the restof the Giants when he has a big day.Uribe in the lineup is a no-brainer. Renteria? Far from it.