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Wednesday, October 20, 2010
NLCS Game 4 Preview: Phillies at Giants


A quick preview of Game 4 of the National League Championship Series between the Philadelphia Phillies and the San Francisco Giants.

The Giants have won eight of their last 11 home games against the Phillies, combining regular season and postseason.

The Phillies have won five of their last six postseason Game 4s (lost their last one to the Yankees in 2009 World Series). They’ve won eight straight postseason Game 4s against NL teams, last losing one in 1978 to the Dodgers. The Giants, on the other hand, have won four of their last five postseason Game 4s.

The Phillies trailed 2-1 in a best-of-7 NLCS only one other time (1993) and managed to win that series. However, they’ve trailed 2-1 in four other best-of-7 series (each in the World Series), and lost all four.

The Phillies have lost three of their last four postseason games against left-handed starters, beating Jonathan Sanchez earlier in this series. Prior to losing the three of four, they had won six straight postseason games in which the opposing team started a left-hander.

Madison Bumgarner, who starts for the Giants, has never faced the Phillies and has never faced a current Phillies hitter. And the Phillies have a decision to make with left fielder Raul Ibanez, who is slumping. He is 0-11 in this series and 0 for his last 15 overall. He hit .268 against lefties in the regular season and struck out in 23 percent of those plate appearances (.277, 14.4 percent against righties). His replacement would likely be Ben Francisco, who hit .284 with all six of his home runs against lefties, and .253 against righties.

The Phillies are 7-for-44 (.159) with runners in scoring position in this postseason (including 0-5 in Game 3) after hitting .327 with RISP in the postseason last season. They’re hitting .203 overall this postseason, .194 in this series.

The Phils counter with Joe Blanton, who is 2-0 with a 3.89 career ERA in eight postseason appearances. However, in his five career starts with Wally Bell calling balls and strikes, he’s 1-4 with a 5.70 ERA and a K/BB ratio less than two. Bell will be behind the plate tonight.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy will have a decision to make in center field tonight against the right-handed Blanton. Aaron Rowand, who hits right-handed, is 2-for-4 with two doubles in his career against Blanton, while Andres Torres, the lefty who was benched in Game 3, is 1-for-3 with a home run.

Red-hot Giants outfielder Cody Ross is 3-for-11 with a home run and six strikeouts in his career against Blanton and has struck out in his last four plate appearances against Blanton. Teammate Pat Burrell is 3-for-12 against Blanton, with three HR and five strikeouts.

Ross has an RBI in each of the last four postseason games in which he had a plate appearance. The last Giant to do that is Edgardo Alfonzo in 2003 (many Giants have done four straight). With an RBI in Game 4 tonight, Ross would tie Barry Bonds for the Giants record.