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Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Starting Sanchez made easy by numbers

By Mark Simon

Sanchez
Why would San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy flip-flop Matt Cain and Jonathan Sanchez, so that Sanchez pitches Game 2 of the NLCS against the Philadelphia Phillies in Philadelphia?

There’s a very good reason.

Sanchez beat the Phillies twice during the regular season, holding them to a .114 batting average and two runs in 13 innings. For his career, he’s held the Phillies to a .175 batting average. That’s best among the 75 active pitchers who have thrown at least 30 innings against the Phillies. Change the qualifier to five starts and Sanchez is second-best of anybody in the last 55 years (trailing only Floyd Youmans). He’s even 10 points better than the immortal Sandy Koufax.

The matchups rate favorably for Sanchez against every Phillies hitter, with one exception -- Shane Victorino is 6-for-15 (.400 BA) against him. Other than that, it’s pretty lopsided in Sanchez’s favor. Ryan Howard’s .214 batting average (3-for-14 with seven strikeouts) looks pretty good compared to Carlos Ruiz (.111, 1-for-9), Jimmy Rollins (.067, 1-for-16), Jayson Werth (0-for-12, six strikeouts), Ben Francisco (0-for-8) and Raul Ibanez (0-for-6).

Sanchez allowed one run and two hits in 7⅓ innings in Game 3 of the Division Series against the Atlanta Braves. He’s one of three Giants to have a postseason start of at least seven innings and allowing two hits or fewer, joining teammate Lincecum and Dave Dravecky (1987).

That kind of performance is nothing new. Over the last two seasons, Sanchez has had that sort of performance three times in the regular season, including Aug. 19, when he took a one-hitter into the ninth inning of an eventual 5-2 win over the Phillies.