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NLCS Game One Recap: Halladay disappointing as Lincecum stops Phillies



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Philadelphia Phillies logo: http://www.wondergy.com/art/logos/phillies_logo.gif








One of the most highly anticipated NLCS matchups in the history of baseball took place Saturday night.

And the good guys didn't win.

Neither Tim Lincecum or Roy Halladay lived up to the expectations set for them for Game 1 of the NLCS between the Phillies and Giants. But at the end of the day, the Giants left Citizens Bank Park with a 1-0 lead in this best-of-seven series.

This is clearly the Phillies' toughest loss since Game 6 of last year's World Series to the Yankees. It's their first opening game loss in a playoff series since Jeff Francis and the Colorado Rockies won in Game 1 of the 2007 NLDS. A championship crowd of 45,000 plus really wanted to get into this game. However, the lucky breaks only came for the Giants, as the Phillies were 0 for 4 with runners in scoring position, and any rally they attempted was short-lived. Let's break down this frustrating loss.

The good:

Really not anything. The Phillies' offensive woes continue. Carlos Ruiz and Jayson Werth homered, but they also both whiffed at major points of the game. Ryan Howard was stranded at second base with nobody out in the bottom of the 2nd, and the Phillies managed nothing off Lincecum.

The bad:

Maybe I'm asking too much. I didn't expect a no-hitter, but Roy Halladay was disappointing. I know, I know, he wasn't getting the calls behind home plate, but neither was Lincecum. Halladay rarely makes ANY mistakes on a hitter. That is why it's so perplexing that he allowed TWO home runs to eight-hole hitter Cody Ross.

When the Giants out-hit you, there really is cause for concern. I'll give San Fransisco's pitchers all the credit in the world for how they handled the Phillies' bats, but their offense? Are you kidding me? Their duct-taped made lineup outscored the Phillies' "Powerhouse." If I were the Phillies, I would be embarrassed. It didn't even look like they were into this game.

Don't get me wrong, Halladay is a stud, but at the end of the day this was a HUGE game where he came up short.To be fair, the offense did NOTHING to help him out. I know there was a layoff, but there was a layoff after his last start of the season and nine days later, he threw a no-hitter. It's not going to be fair if people start bringing up Cliff Lee's  name again because of all the great things Halladay has done for this team in 2010. However, Halladay already has one more loss than Lee had in all of last year's postseason. I stated before the season that if Halladay did not duplicate Lee's performance in the playoffs this year, anything less is a disappointment. While I am a Halladay fan, I'm not backing off that statement. I expect the angry emails to come in because I realize he DID throw a no-hitter and that was great, but this is a new round. One "off night" can send you to the golf course.

Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard-

Howard and Rollins were both within one strikeout of the "golden sombrero" tonight. Howard seems to be more clueless than ever at the plate, striking out with runners on first and second in the bottom of the 3rd- a MAJOR opportunity the Phillies failed to capitalize on. Rollins is so ineffective at the plate to the point where it's obvious there is something wrong with him that may not be rectified until next season. He isn't hitting and can't run. Would Charlie Manuel dare to try and bat Rollins eighth and Ruiz seventh? Either way, those two have to get it together. Howard was the NLCS MVP last year. However, his rocky World Series' performance just adds fuel to the fire for his critics if he fails to again perform on the big stage.

Brad Lidge-

I know it's not a "save situation," but any other team besides the Giants probably would have tattooed Lidge in the top of the ninth. A hit, walk, and a hit batsman made this outing all too painful to watch.

Bottom Line:

It's not panic time. However, Sunday is about as close as a must-win as the Phillies can get. Jonathan Sanchez is not exactly the cure for breaking out of their prolonged offensive slump. They really needed to steal Game 1 to knock San Fransisco down a peg, and to not run the risk of trailing the series 0-2 as they leave for AT&T Park- a place where the Phillies are anything but welcomed.

The Giants are a team to be reckoned with. Unlike most of the Phillies' opponents in past playoff series, they weren't fazed whatsoever by the crowd. This is a problem. And now that they knocked off "the best pitcher in baseball" in Game 1, chances are their confidence has skyrocketed to even greater heights. They are like the middleweight fighter who doesn't overpower you, but chips away at you until the buzzer sounds.

There is some good karma surrounding this Giants team. From Brooks Conrad's errors in the NLDS to Raul Ibanez's gaff  Saturday night leading to a Giants' run, the way that balls are literally dropping for them foreshadow (dare I say it) acts of the baseball gods. I don't know if you believe in that stuff or not, but if you do, that is not a good sign for our Phightins. Moreover, the Phillies' effort Saturday night seemed very uninspiring. I understand it's only one game, the Phils could easily tie the series in Game 2 and we won't be talking about this any longer. This is where a veteran team like the Phillies don't get anxious. However, if they again come up short Sunday against Sanchez, that is a big nail in the coffin, and it could be the last time you see the Phils at Citizens Bank Park this year.

Contact Joe Vallee at jvallee@philly2philly.com

Thumbnail: Joe Vallee Sr.