So here we sit, two games into the NLCS, and the Philadelphia Phillies are on their way out to Los Angeles for, at most, three games in Chavez Ravine against the Dodgers.
The big question still remains. Will one of these two teams finally win a game away from home? Thus far, the Phillies and Dodgers have followed the script written to mirror their regular-season series, as each team was 4-0 at home and 0-4 on the road.
After two games in Philadelphia, the Phillies lead 2-0 thanks to Cole Hamels, Shane Victorino, and Brett Myers.
Hamels pitched a gem in Game One, going seven strong innings, surrendering six hits, two runs, and two walks while striking out eight. His offense capitalized on Derek Lowe's paranoia with a man on second base, with Chase Utley belting a two-run home run to tie the game, and Pat Burrell also going deep that same inning off of Lowe to give the Phils the victory.
Game Two saw much more immediate offense, as the Phils belted eight runs across after three innings, with Brett Myers and Shane Victorino combining for seven RBI.
The Dodgers made a late push, after Manny Ramirez belted a three-run shot in the top of the fourth. He continued to threaten even in the top of the ninth before Brad Lidge shut them down to give the Phillies a 2-0 series lead.
Now, with Game Three out in Chavez Ravine, the Phillies will throw out Jamie Moyer to match up with the Dodgers' Hiroki Kuroda.
Moyer has made one postseason start thus far, and went four innings, allowing four hits, two runs, and three walks while striking out three. Moyer was not as effective in that NLDS Game Three against Milwaukee, as he could not nail Brian Runge's corners of the strike zone, and thus needed 90 pitches in just those four innings.
Moyer's lack of success against an impatient Milwaukee Brewers lineup is very concerning, especially since he will be dealing with Manny Ramirez, Casey Blake, Rafael Furcal, and a good young Dodgers lineup.
If Moyer could not have success against a Brewers team that hit .253 on the season, fifth worst in the majors, I shudder to think what will happen against this Dodgers team that hit .264 on the season.
In addition, the Dodgers have struck out on average 6.37 times per game, compared to the Brewers' 7.43 strike outs per game.
Moyer's career numbers against the Dodgers look something like this: 10 starts, 3-4, 4.80 ERA, and a .277 BAA in 60 IP.
Kuroda has been phenomenal in his two career starts against the Phillies. He has pitched 13 innings, surrendering four hits, two runs, and two walks while striking out 15. He also has a 1.38 ERA, 0.46 WHIP, and .095 BAA in those two starts.
He pitched in Game Three of the NLDS against the Cubs, going 6.1 innings, while allowing six hits and two walks with four strikeouts.
Kuroda has been at his best at home, posting a 6-2 record in 14 starts, including two complete-game shutouts. He also had a 3.68 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, and .241 BAA in 88 IP.
Statistically speaking, the Dodgers have the edge over the Phillies.
L.A.'s starting pitcher has been better as of late and has been exceptional against the Phillies this season. They are also 48-33 at home this season, compared to a 36-45 road mark, and neither team has won a game on the road in any of their contests.
However, the Phillies have all of the momentum with a 2-0 series lead and have outscored the Dodgers thus far by an average of two runs per game, even without any serious form of contribution from Ryan Howard.
The keys to Game Three for the Phillies will be:
- Be patient at the plate, and force Kuroda to throw pitches.
- Get on base ahead of Utley, Howard, and Burrell.
- Jamie Moyer must pitch better than his NLDS start.
For the Dodgers, the keys are:
- The offense needs to score.
- Kuroda must keep true to his regular season form against the Phillies.
- Put men on base ahead of Manny Ramirez.
I have a hard time believing that the Dodgers will go down 3-0 in this series, and Kuroda's numbers against the Phillies are hard to argue against. In addition, Manny Ramirez has been hot as usual in the postseason, and I look for that to continue in Chavez Ravine.
Prediction: Dodgers take Game Three, 5-2