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NLCS Game 2 Recap: Oswalt dominates Giants as Phillies even series



San Fransisco Giants logo: http://refrigeratorlogic.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/02/san_francisco_giants_logo_2000.png

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








It was the Phillies' biggest game of the year.

And Roy Oswalt delivered.

The 2005 NLCS MVP pitched a true gem, allowing only three hits over eight innings while striking out nine. One of them was a home run by (you'll never guess.....) Cody Ross. If Ross' life-long quest is to stick it to the Marlins for placing him on waivers in August, he has succeeded beyond his wildest dreams.

Despite Ross' "Ruthian blasts," the Phillies pulled off a 6-1 victory and evened the 2010 NLCS 1-1 against the Giants. The series shifts to San Fransisco Tuesday afternoon.

As mentioned before, this was as close to a must-win as you could get for the Phightins. It may have taken a while, but some of the Phillies' bats woke up just in time. Hopefully they won't go to sleep for the rest of the series. Let's break down this very important victory.

The good


Not only did the right-hander make up for his shaky performance against the Reds in Game 2 of the NLDS with his arm, but he also laced a single for good measure. However, this wasn't just ANY single. Demonstrating his true grit (or the fact that he knows how poorly the Phils had been hitting) Oswalt ran right through third base coach Sam Perlozzo's stop sign and came around to score on a hook-pop up slide on Placido Polanco's single. Oswalt really picked up Roy Halladay Sunday night, and in the process most likely saved the Phillies' season. As a result, he gets the Philly2Philly Player of the Game Award (Not sure exactly what that award is, but it sounds good.And with our budget, it will most likely involve something in a Cracker Jack Box).

Placido Polanco

THIS is why the Phillies got Polanco back. He's not going to take many pitches, but on the second pitch he saw from Giants reliever Ramon Ramirez, he poked it into center field to plate Oswalt and end the Phillies dreaded RISP drought. The only worse stretch of offensive impotency for the Phils during their last few playoff runs was during games 1-3 of the 2008 World Series. It wasn't until Game 4 when our old friend Pedro Feliz broke the RISP drought, which opened the floodgates for an eventual 10-2 Phillies victory over Tampa Bay. Hopefully, this is a sign of things to come for the Phils, who will play the next three games at spacious AT&T Park.

Jimmy RollinsJimmy Rollins' bases clearing double set the tone for Game 2. Photo: Joe Vallee Sr.

If Polanco opened the door just a crack, Rollins knocked it off its hinges. To say he looked lost in his first several at-bats in this series is an understatement. Rollins needed his bases clearing double: not just for the team, but maybe even more for himself. In the process, he picked up his good buddy Ryan Howard, who so far is doing all his hitting this series when runners aren't on base.

The Phillies aren't a team who shows anybody up, but after the inning ended, Rollins' grin on Phanavision was one of happiness and extreme relief. Hopefully, this is the spark J-Roll needed to get himself and the Phillies' offense running again.

The bad

Raul Ibanez

Ibanez made amends for his crucial misplay in Game 1 by tracking down Pat Burrell's screamer in the ninth inning. Don't get me wrong, Chase Utley hasn't been tearing it up, either. However, he was right in the middle of everything Sunday as he walked twice and scored two runs. Ibanez however, looks more lost at the plate than anyone on the Phillies right now, currently wearing an "0 for the series" collar. Hopefully, right-hander Matt Cain is just what he needs to get his groove back for Game 3.

The middle

Ryan Howard

Howard's .429 average in this series is kind of deceiving. Although he had three quality at-bats in the game, Howard again struck out Sunday with runners in scoring position. The Phils need Howard to wake up offensively if the team even hopes to advance to the World Series and win it. Most of all, Howard is long overdue for one of his monster home runs.

The discouraging (?)

Ryan Madson

22 pitches. 10 strikes and 12 balls. A walk, a hit, and a screamer saved by Ibanez made up Madson's box score. Let's hope the outings of Madson and Brad Lidge are more the exception to the rule as the series progresses.

Bottom Line:

Although Giants starter Jonathan Sanchez was in and out of trouble Sunday night, he did not pitch a bad game. Expect more of the same if the Phillies force a Game 6. In order for the Phillies to beat the Giants in this series, they are going to have to beat them at their own game. That means out pitching them AND playing "small ball," which the Phillies demonstrated they can do in Game 2. As previously noted, AT&T Park is NOT a home run hitters park. It's probably THE worst place you can play if you're looking to break out of a home run drought. Because of this, the Phils will have to take advantage of the wide open spaces the park has and continue to produce runs.

Although Cole Hamels doesn't particularly pitch well in day games, he seems to be either on or extremely off in his four separate post seasons. However, if Hamels' performance last Sunday in Cincinnati was any indication of what's in store for the Giants in Game 3, the Phils could be in a very good position to notch a second victory in as many games.

Contact Joe Vallee at jvallee@philly2philly.com