NLCS 2010: What the Giants Must Do To Beat the Phillies
Torture. That is what the Giants like to do to their fans.
Although the Giants took the NLDS 3-1 against the Atlanta Braves, there was no absence of nail-biting, heart-stopping moments. Each game was decided by one run, and one of the four games went into extra innings.
Now with a few days to rest, the Giants will need to continue to dominate on the mound and have some good old luck if they are to win the National League pennant from the Philadelphia Phillies.
1. Starting Pitching Must Stay Dominant
The Giants posted the third-best starting ERA in NL postseason history (.093 ERA). This must continue.
Timmy shut down Atlanta with a 14 strike out, complete game gem, and he must repeat, because runs will be a rarity against Doc Halladay.
Cain, Sanchez and Bumgarner also had stellar games. Keeping the games close is a must.
2. Clutch Hits
I won't pretend that Brooks Conrad's errors and some favorable calls didn't play a huge role in the Atlanta series, but the Giants had key hits throughout. Cody Ross was great, having the only RBI in Game 1 and his huge HR in Game 4. Burrell had some nice hits and Buster did what he has done all year, get on base. The Panda needs to get going though.
If the Giants' pitching can keep the Phillies' hitters at bay, the Giants have the ability to win close games and win games away from AT&T Park (the Braves had best home record in the NL this year).
3. Bullpen Needs To Get Back to Form
Although he sealed the deal, Brian Wilson looked anything but on his game. He blew a save opportunity in Game 2 and had control issues in Game 4. Sergio Romo was a complete disaster, which brings in questions as well.
If the starting rotation can give them solid innings like they did against Atlanta, the bullpen needs to step up and hold the leads. The Phillies have too many hitters to have shaky performances.
4. Rough Up The Phillies Starting Rotation
Halladay, Oswalt and Hamels are quality arms, but the Giants had surprising success against them. Halladay went 0-1, so did Hamels. The Giants need to get them out of the game early, and if they can get some runs, that would be huge.
Besides Oswalt, the other two starters shut down the top scoring offense in the NL in the Reds. The Giants need to be smart and hit well.
The Giants are going up against the Phillies, who are arguably better in every category. They are looking for their third-straight NL Championship and they have home-field advantage.
This makes San Francisco dangerous. Playing as the underdog relieves them of the pressure, and they can go and play loose.