When will the San Francisco Giants do enough to convince you that they are the team to beat in the National League?
After they defeated the Phillies in six games last October in the National League Championship Series, it was Phillies' hitters that were solely to blame.
It wasn't that San Francisco's pitching staff, who held opponents throughout the entire postseason (14 games) to a .196 opponents' batting average and tossed four shutouts, was all that good.
After they took two of three games in their series against the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park earlier this week, it was again the failure of Philadelphia's bats to do their job.
It simply couldn't have been that the Giants didn't allow a single earned run over the final 18 innings of the series.
Maybe it's unfair to say that all of Phillies Nation feels that the Giants' defeat of their beloved ballclub last season was nothing more than the Phillies not playing up to potential.
But apparently Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel thinks so.
In an interview following his club's 4-1 loss in the series finale against the Giants Thursday night, Manuel responded to a question about how good San Francisco's pitching had been in the final two games by saying:
“They’re good pitchers. You say they’re great pitchers. To me, I don’t know how great they are. I think as they move on into their careers, there’s the longevity part and things like that. I think that’s when the greatness might come by. This is a consistent game. When you say somebody is great…tonight I saw 90 fastball, 92 at the best. I saw a good changeup. I saw a breaking ball. I saw a cutter. Good pitching, but at the same time we can beat that. I’ve seen us do that.”
After everything that's transpired between these two clubs dating back to last season, Charlie Manuel still thinks it's not how good the Giants are, but how poorly his own club has been playing that's to blame for the Phillies inability to overcome San Francisco.
There's a slight problem with that viewpoint, Charlie. Before the Giants arrived in town your club hadn't lost two games in a row since June 4.
And they hadn't lost a home series since May 6-8.
Tim Lincecum's Response
Some call it an "East Coast bias." Some call it a "superiority complex."
I'd just say Charlie Manuel is sick of losing to the Giants.
But being sick of losing to a club doesn't mean that club isn't the best in the land. The defending world champions played well against a team that felt like it should have had that title last season.
Tim Lincecum, when told about Manuel's comments, had this to say:
“He’s probably speaking out of frustration and dealing with their first home series loss since however long you guys said it was. It’s something they’re not used to, and it probably has something to do with what happened in the NLCS last year, too. I don’t know. You’ll have to ask him.
"Cainer was throwing the same numbers up there. He doesn’t hump up unless he has to, and with his stuff, he still dominates teams. So I don’t know how miles per hour has to do with dominance.
"They had a guy, Moyer, right? Talk to him about that one."
There's a Lot of Baseball Left to Be Played in 2011
The Giants and Phillies will lock horns again in San Francisco next week, and there's certainly a lot of baseball left to be played in the regular season, and of course, October. Who knows how each team will play going forward.
But for a big league manager to deny what is now clearly evident—the Giants' pitching staff owns the Phillies—and judging by sheer stats, the rest of the league, is ridiculous.
It was ridiculous after the NLCS, and it's ridiculous now.
Tim Lincecum and the Giants don't seem to be looking for Charlie Manuel or anyone else on the Phillies club to tip their caps. This is a competitive game, of course.
But from what we've heard from Philadelphia in the last couple of days, it seems the Phillies are in a state of denial.