NLCS Game 1: Halladay and Lincecum Duel a Whimper, Not a Bang
Here are a few unsolicited thoughts about Game 1 of the NLCS tonight. First of all, we learned that—gasp!— Roy Halladay and Tim Lincecum are human. Neither threw a perfect game, or a no-hitter, or a shutout. In fact, the hype was so strong for this matchup, it couldn't help but be a letdown. The only way people in Philly would have been happy after Halladay's no-hitter in the NLDS would have been if he threw a perfect game tonight AND hit a grand slam.
I actually heard people saying that they EXPECTED him to throw another no-hitter tonight. Really? A pitcher has only thrown back-to-back no-hitters once in the entire history of baseball, and now you EXPECT Halladay to do it again? Look, I'm with you, the guy's freaking awesome. He deserves to win the Cy Young this year and I love that he's on our team. But how about we just hope for a win. Is that too much to ask? Just a win.
I had said to several people before the game that the Phillies COULD get to Lincecum, if they played smart and had good at-bats. While it's true he is one of the best pitchers in recent years, he's young and he can be rattled. But I didn't see too many smart at-bats tonight. With the exception, of course, of Ruiz' and Werth's home runs, the offense was pretty disappointing. In at least three innings (I wasn't keeping track) the Phillies got their leadoff man on base and failed to score him. Rollins had three strikeouts. Howard had three strikeouts. Victorino was 0 for 5 in the leadoff spot.
But the numbers don't tell the whole story. You have to look at the individual at-bats. In one inning, Howard struck out on three straight pitches. Late in the game, Rollins worked a 3-1 count, a perfect hitter's count, and then watched strike two sail right over the center of the plate. He proceeded to strike out. In the ninth inning, down by only one run, Raul Ibanez worked a full count and then struck out looking. You can't get on base if you don't swing the bat, Raul.
Now you can't take anything away from Lincecum and Brian Wilson. It's why they get paid the big bucks. They did their jobs. But the Phillies had plenty of chances and they squandered them.
Oh, and one more thing. After Cody Ross hit two home runs off of Halladay, why not plunk the guy in his next at-bat? Show him you're the boss. Show him you're not gonna take this lying down. Show the Giants that you're serious. Show your teammates that you've got a fire in your belly and you're mad and it's time to wake up. What's happened to old school pitching?
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