Urban: Five juicy subplots for Giants-Phils


Urban: Five juicy subplots for Giants-Phils

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.

Reigning AL MVP Trout to undergo thumb surgery, out 6-8 weeks

Reigning AL MVP Trout to undergo thumb surgery, out 6-8 weeks

ANAHEIM -- Los Angeles Angels star Mike Trout has a torn ligament in his left thumb and will have surgery Wednesday that is expected to sideline him between six to eight weeks.

The Angels put the reigning AL MVP on the disabled list Monday for the first time in his career. The outfielder hurt himself a day earlier making a headfirst slide to steal second base in Miami.

At 25, Trout already is a two-time AL MVP. He is hitting .337 and has 16 home runs, second most in the majors.

Angels general manager Billy Eppler said an MRI revealed the tear. Team doctor Steve Shin arrived in Anaheim later Monday night, met with Trout and it was determined surgery was his best option.

"It was news no player wants to hear," Eppler said. "He's been put in a tough spot and it's something he's still digesting."

The Angels lost shortstop Andrelton Simmons to a similar thumb injury last season. He had surgery and was out slightly over five weeks.

Los Angeles was 26-28 going Monday night's game at home against Atlanta, and the lineup recently missed ailing slugger Albert Pujols.

Trout made his major league debut by playing 40 games for the Angels in 2011. Since then, he's been a five-time All-Star and has finished in the top two in the AL MVP all five seasons.

A year after hitting .315 with a .441 on-base percentage, 29 home runs, 100 RBIs and 30 steals, Trout was off to a dynamic start. He was leading the league in on-base percentage (.461) and slugging percentage (.742) when he was hurt.

"It's really hard to quantify (his loss)," Eppler said. "We're going to feel that impact and it's going to require multiple people stepping up in his absence. The team will fight as it always does. But he's in the heart of the order and a leader in the dugout. Those are tough to absorb."

Dodgers infielder weighs in on Harper's errant helmet throw

Dodgers infielder weighs in on Harper's errant helmet throw

Before the right hooks and haymakers, there was the helmet toss.

A very bad helmet toss.

As he made his way to the mound after getting hit by a pitch on Monday afternoon, Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper attempted to throw his helmet at Giants reliever Hunter Strickland. He missed by a wide margin.

Observers took notice, including Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner.

"What was worse, Harper's helmet throw or 50 Cents first pitch? Heads up in the #McCoveyCove," Turner tweeted shortly after the brawl between the Giants and Nationals.

Turner is referring to a ceremonial first pitch thrown by rapper 50 Cent prior to a Mets game in 2014.

Harper mentioned the helmet when addressing the situation after the game.

"I was trying to go after him, with the helmet or with myself, just doing what I needed to do keep it going, I guess," Harper told reporters.