After taking two of three games in this week's highly-anticipated NLCS rematch between San Francisco and Philadelphia, the defending world champions head for their next series against the Cincinnati Reds feeling pretty good about themselves.
Not only did they defeat the team with the best record in baseball, but they also picked up the coveted trade-deadline prize that is Carlos Beltran along the way.
Despite an 0-for-4 performance by the newest Giant in the series finale against the Phillies, San Francisco made defeating the mighty Phillies look too easy, not yielding a single earned run over the last two games of the series.
The Phillies still don't have an answer for San Francisco's pitching staff, particularly the specialized relievers that come out of the Giants' formidable bullpen (Lopez, Affeldt, Romo, etc.).
Philadelphia's offense managed a meager .156 batting average (10-for-64) over those two games, stranding 15 men on base.
Ryan Howard and Chase Utley combined for a 1-for-16 performance, and collectively Phillies hitters went 2-for-18 with runners in scoring position (.111 BA).
The last time these two clubs met, in the 2010 NLCS, the Phillies hit just .216 against the Giants, averaging only 3.3 runs per game. Philadelphia hitters struck out 56 times (roughly 9 strikeouts per game).
A big reason for San Francisco's dominance of Phillies hitters is the lack of a right-handed bat in a Philadelphia lineup whose left-handed hitters have been neutralized by Giants relievers.
The Phillies have been aggressively pursuing hitters on the trade market as we approach Sunday's non-waiver MLB trade deadline, but the Giants won Carlos Beltran, leaving the Phillies with what feels like a big hole to fill to keep up with the defending champs.
Hunter Pence is heavily rumored to be Philadelphia's main target, and based on reports from Sports Illustrated's Jon Heyman and Fox's Ken Rosenthal, the Phillies are willing to do whatever they have to, including trading top prospect Dominic Brown, to get Pence from the Astros.
Has the recent series loss to the Giants created more of an urgency for the Phillies?
And the fact that the Phillies are very likely to see those Giants come October, it would indeed be a surprise if Hunter Pence is not wearing a Philadelphia jersey come Monday.
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