NLCS 2010: Ten Ways Tim Lincecum and Giants Send The Phillies Packing
The 2010 NLCS has but a short time left before evolving into The World Series, here are ten ways Tim Lincecum and company can expedite the process.
Game Five of the script-busting NLCS begins this afternoon, promptly at 4:57pm.
The skies above AT&T Park will be mostly cloudy and cool, moving into chilly and cold as expected on a Thursday night in San Francisco, October baseball.
The Giants faithful will not blink or suffer a shiver to deter them from witnessing what is about to happen.
The Embarcadero will be a jostling sea of eager and anxious fans clad in orange and black, ebbing towards the grandest stage of all the San Francisco venues, #24 Willie Mays Plaza.
McCovey Cove will be alive as well, welcoming ferry after ferry of arriving Giants fans. The evening breeze begins to fan the hordes, the ripples in the cove bending as the flotilla kayaks and rafts take up position just beyond right field.
The board is set. The pieces are in motion. The game is waiting to be played.
Tim Lincecum and the San Francisco Giants are but a tick away from making a World Series Appearance, and here are ten ways they can make that happen.
Top of the First: Set the Tone Early
In a game where a two time reigning Cy Young winner is pitted against the lead horse for the 2010 Cy Young recipient, tight defense is paramount.
The Phillies are against the ropes, but not down. The Giants can't afford to allow a glimmer of hope to shine back into their hearts.
The gauntlet must be thrown down at the onset of 'Play Ball'. This means no easy bases, no passed balls, no walks.
What will set the tone early is the quick and sure outs. Decisive and efficient pitching. The infield should be a stubborn vacuum, boom boom pow, three outs.
Let Tim Lincecum pitch in a rhythm and know his defense has his back. Setting the tone early in this way, will add doubt and frustration to the Phillies lineup.
Have a Team Wide Plan On How to Approach and Get To Roy Halladay
Despite having given up his first post season loss to the Giants in Game One of the NLCS, Roy Halladay is still a cool customer.
Don't expect Doc Halladay to make the same mistakes he made in his first outing in this series. Even though Halladay gave up eight hits in seven innings - he still managed to average a K per inning.
Halladay is not known for nibbling, he will get after you, pounding the zone. He doesn't like to walk, and put that notion to work in Game One also.
As many teams have learned the hard way, don't get too aggressive on Halladay. Just because he doesn't nibble, and doesn't give up walks, doesn't mean you can guess or time his stuff.
A mixture of patience and confidence will eventually stand up against this guy, more than any other plan.
I'm not saying the Giants have to become Samurai writing haiku's but they will need to have their best and surest mindset stepping in the box against Halladay.
If they got to Doc before, the Giants hitters can do it again.
Tim Lincecum, The Freak, The Franchise Must Be a Machine
Number 55 has not given Giants fans any reason to think he is not going to show up for big games.
During recent All-Star appearances, we all thought Timmy was a little amped up, swimming in a torrent of success and pitching on a very big stage.
Privately, this was a small concern going into the playoffs. Small only because his usually moxie and swagger had returned in such a big way in September, guiding the Giants into the post-season like a Cool Handed Luke.
Lincecum took to the playoffs like a kid in a candy store. He was absolute nails in his first start against the Braves, striking out 14 and shutting out the club.
The Lincecum vs. Halladay matchup was touted as possibly one of the best pitching match-ups in playoff history. Both pitchers were good, but not overly dominant.
The pitcher who kept his cool, earned the victory.
Tonight, San Francisco and all of the underdogs in the world are relying on Lincecum to get it going early. If Tim can establish his fastball and slider early, his changeup will be lethal as the game matures.
Hand the man a lead and an unbreakable defense, will give Lincecum all the backing he needs to do his own diligence.
Bruce Bochy Is The Maestro of the NLCS
Giants Manager Bruce Bochy has become a master since shepherding his club into its first playoff appearance since 2003.
Never before have I seen a Skipper do what Bochy has done in recent weeks, and in both the NLDS and NLCS.
With his thumb on the pulse of a sputtering offense he composed the right lineups. With his ever brilliant handling of a bullpen, he found the match ups he wanted.
He also had to look certain players in the eye and tell them that they could not be a part of the team that will try to go all the way.
Bruce Bochy in the last few years as Manager of the Giants, has drawn the fire expected of a San Francisco Skipper, and then some. Fans and media alike called for him to get the axe at more than one point during the 2010 season.
But now it seems like it is all part of a bigger, more complicated but yet wonderfully simple plan. A plan that has evolved with the team and has been adapted to the adversary.
The compliments of the season to you Bruce, win or lose, you have done an exceedingly brilliant job here in the post season.
Riders on the Storm
The Giants offense was never accused of being a powerhouse. At times during the 2010 season and post season, the lineup was quite deserving of its lack luster reputation.
If not for a few key players stepping up in previous games, we probably would not have the seen all out team contribution in Game Four of NLCS, where the Giants went toe to toe with the National League's best lineup and won.
Outfielder Cody Ross has become a post season legend in a city where post season legends are almost myths of ancient lore. He is sizzling at the plate, batting .346 against the best pitching the National League has to offer. His four home runs and seven RBI are going to be numbers not forgotten in San Francisco for generations to come.
And that is what is has to be about. The hot bats will need to stay hot, they are contagious. As we have witnessed in Game Four, it is just a matter of time before the play of Ross, Posey and Huff bleed over into the rest of the lineup.
Rookie catching sensation Buster Posey went ballistic in Game Four, going four for five. Posey also had two crucial RBI and two doubles in his breakout post season performance.
Aubrey Huff has been quietly solid, providing a base runner in key situations and batting .290. Freddy Sanchez has six hits and has been on the button for go ahead RBI on more than one occasion.
Get the Cold Bats Going, Heat Up Game Five
As many of us had hoped, the continued brilliant play of Ross and Posey is starting to have an affect on the players chomping at the bit to contribute offensively.
Pat Burrell has not exactly shined, but his veteran presence has taken five walks and put runners in play and scored runs.
Lead-off batter and team spark plug Andres Torres has struggled mightily. His starting position relegated to Aaron Rowand has not hurt the club's chemistry or Torres willingness to help. Torres is scraping through it, with a .143 average. His four hits in the post season are an aberration to his consistent tight play in the regular season.
Pablo Sandoval was in grave danger of being left off of the playoff roster with his well documented woes in 2010.
Juan Uribe has .095 average in the playoffs. Unheard of if you ever watched Uribe play this season. His dinged up wrist playing more of a factor than realized. Uribe hit the walk off sacrifice fly to win Game four in dramatic fashion, but is still playing through a lot pain.
Freddy Sanchez, Travis Ishikawa, Nate Schierholtz, Aaron Rowand and Mike Fontenot are all clearly looking for rhythm. Finding it against Halladay will not be easy, but nothing comes easy for this team.
Blitz Charlie Manuel and Force Him To Panic
Across the board, Phillie fans and writers are taking shots at Charlie Manuel.
They have questioned his judgment in not staring Halladay in Game Four. They didn't see why he pulled Joe Blanton when he did.
Charlie Manuel is also taking fire for pitching Roy Oswalt in the game's pivotal moment.
Had Oswalt not pitched his work out session as starting pitchers usually do in between games, such a move is not unheard of. It was how Manuel went to Oswalt on the fly that has Philadelphia worried.
Having the odds against he and his club is a relatively different sensation for Manuel, having unabashed success in the his previous two NLCS appearances. Did Manuel hit the panic button?
We don't know for sure. Are the walls closing in on him? Don't count on it.
But if Bruce Bochy can continue to over maneuver Charlie Manuel, especially here in Game Five, we might see more questionable moves by the Phillie Skipper.
All the Giants can do is keep the pressure on, hoping the impending end of his playoff ride will force Manuel into more desperate and less measured decisions.
Stay Within Themselves, Be the Giants They Always Have Been
One characteristic of this Giants team that sets it apart from successful Giants clubs of the past: their unwavering resilience.
This squad, or 'Band of Misfits' has battled and clawed through adversity all season long. The pitching staff is all Aces, but according the rest of the league, the lineup was bad news bears-ish.
At times they were, scoring was feast or famine, and the Giants made a living by winning with tightened belts.
Torture. Whatever it is, the Giants need to keep their identity. Take the field with a swagger, yes, but don't let the levity of the situation take them off their game.
They are not the Phillies, and with a chance to beat the dangerous team, stay the Giants they have been.
Be the the team that never stopped chasing the Padres all season long. Be the Giants who never quit fighting.
Do this, and they will become National League Champions.
Get To the Phillies Bullpen.
Like I said before, Doc Halladay is a cool customer. As most of the Phillies starting rotation are.
Their bullpen, while not terrible, don't stand up to the test quite as well as the Giants own pen has.
Halladay will eat control, and shed innings. The sooner Roy Halladay is seeing a reliever warming up in the bullpen, the better.
Even though Halladay's ERA has ballooned to 2.25 since Game One of the NLCS, he will be looking to lower that figure and prolong the series.
If given his way, he will do both of those things. Get to him early, and force Charlie Manuel to pull the chain, the rest will be history.
Brian Wilson To Save the Game and Usher the Giants Into The World Series!
What I am most hoping to see out of all the things discussed in this article is seeing Giants closer Brian Wilson enter the game.
All the rest can be taken as strong advise, but seeing 'Black Beard' in the game means the Giants are mere outs away from their first World Series appearance since 2003.
Enough said. The pieces are in motion. Let's get this started.
Mr. Wilson - we look forward to seeing you in action tonight.