Ratto: Game 2 a Classic Phillies Win

Ratto: Game 2 a Classic Phillies Win
October 18, 2010, 4:43 am
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Oct. 17, 2010RATTO ARCHIVEGIANTS PAGE GIANTS VIDEOMLB POSTSEASONRay Ratto
CSNBayArea.com

PHILADELPHIA -- If there was a telling moment in Philadelphias 6-1 win over the Giants in Game 2 of the NL Championship Series -- and there were plenty -- it was Roy Oswalt breezing through third base coach Sam Perlozzos frantic stop sign in the seventh inning to start the crushing rally.

It was a message from the Phillies, albeit an inadvertent one, reminding the Giants that all mistakes you make will be punished, and some mistakes they make will be rewarded. Thats why the Phillies are so hard to beat. The Giants got their split, but also got a full view of their offensive flaws, the kind that magnify the occasional defensive failure.

Thats it right there, manager Bruce Bochy said as he aggressively speared the remnants of the postgame spread. You have to play clean ball, or theyll get you. And sometimes they can make a mistake and turn it into a big inning.

And then he went back to mentally plotting the changes he intends to make for Game 3 Tuesday. And well get to those momentarily.

Game 2 was a classic Phillies win, in that they got great pitching from Oswalt (except for the nightly Cody Ross home run), extended Giant starter Jonathan Sanchez to a standstill for six innings, and then pounced on their one opportunity.

Sanchez entered the seventh inning a marked man. He had endured a dreadful first inning (35 pitches, three walks, including a bases-loaded one to eventual hero Jimmy Rollins), and though he tightened up his game, he also tightened up, period.

He fell behind Oswalt, 2-0, then threw an 87-mph fastball on his 100th pitch that Oswalt cracked into center field. I was going to get him there either way, Bochy said later. He was stiffening up.

But for the one of the rare times in the last month and a half, the bullpen failed. Ramon Ramirez got a sacrifice from Shane Victorino, walked Chase Utley intentionally and then strung a 1-0 fastball at Placido Polanco that ended up on a line to center. Oswalt was churning toward third when Perlozzo held up his hands, Oswalt blew through the sign and scored when first baseman Aubrey Huff, who saw Perlozzo try to hold Oswalt, cut off Andres Torres throw.

He kept coming, Rollins said later of Oswalt, or he was too tired to stop.

The first thing in my mind was to score, Oswalt said. When I got halfway and saw the stop sign, I said, Its too late now, no turning back.

That judgment made it 3-1. Jeremy Affeldt struck out Ryan Howard, but walked Jayson Werth intentionally to load the bases and bring on Santiago Casilla, who threw a 2-0 fastball that Rollins planted off the base of the right field scoreboard for a three-run double.

We dont have those very often, Bochy said wistfully. We usually play cleaner than that. But weve got to get the bats going, too.

Thats where the changes come in. Torres, who struck out four more times Sunday night and is now 3-for-25 with 12 strikeouts in the postseason, looks so jumpy that he almost surely will be moved down in the order and maybe to the bench. Freddy Sanchez (4-for-25) got two singles but also looks at the plate like he has a cab waiting outside. Mike Fontenot, too, looked overmatched against Oswalt, and in any event probably would sit against Game 3 starter and lefthander Cole Hamels anyway.

That would seem to open up spots for Pablo Sandoval, who walked (exclamation point implied) in his only at-bat, and Aaron Rowand (who hasnt played in the series yet, and is 3-for-15 lifetime against Hamels).

In addition, Juan Uribe, who was scratched with a bruised wrist before Game 2, may get back in at third for the struggling Fontenot, though some medical work will have to be performed before the Giants know whether he can play.

It is surely true that the Giants wont get much further in this series waiting for the obligatory Ross solo homer. Dont throw it down and in, Oswalt said, offering a cure for what has been ailing the Phillies. The last three balls he hit are in the same place. Bad pitches. I mean, throwing it right into his bat, pretty much.

That might be a tad harsh, but since nobody was betting heavily on Cody Ross being the Giants postseason linchpin, it may be safe to assume that the rest of the lineup should show some initiative soon if they want to get out of San Francisco up 3-2.

They are hitting .194 as a team in this series, .206 in the postseason, and have 16 runs in six games. In addition to Torres and Sanchez, Huff is 5-for-23, Pat Burrell is 4-for-17, and third base 2-for-12.

In short, the Giants need an offense that they really havent had since the Arizona Diamondbacks left town at the end of September. And though they are happy with their split here, the options for getting it fixed are narrowing considerably.

Ray Ratto is a columnist for Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.