Stats & Info: Cody Ross

AP Photo/Marcio Jose SanchezThe Giants hit just two home runs at home in July, both by Buster Posey.
ESPN's Home Run Tracker analyzes video of each home run hit this season and as far back as 2006. Each month, the tracker will detail the best and worst home runs, as well as some other interesting statistics pertaining to the long ball. With the exception of the final day of the month, below are the notable home runs for the month of July.

No Doubter of the Month: Longest true distance HR
June Winner: Nelson Cruz, Texas Rangers (484 feet)
July Winner: Cameron Maybin, San Diego Padres (485 feet)
On July 2 at Chase Field, Maybin hit a 485-foot shot to left-center field. Not only was it the longest home run of his career, but the second-longest at Chase Field since ESPN began tracking home runs in 2006.

Wall-Scraper of the Month: Shortest true distance HR
June Winner: Adrian Beltre, Texas Rangers (329 feet)
July Winner: Cody Ross, Boston Red Sox (338 feet)
On July 19 at Fenway Park, Ross hit an Addison Reed pitch into the monster seats for a walk-off home run. The 338-foot HR is the longest “wall-scarper” this season. It was Ross’ shortest home run since he hit one 337 feet off Hiroki Kuroda in 2008.

Moonshot of the Month: Highest apex HR (maximum vertical height ball reaches)
June Winner: Jay Bruce, Cincinnati Reds (152 feet)
July Winner: Travis Hafner, Cleveland Indians (154 feet)
Hafner’s 363-foot HR off Ricky Romero on July 13 was the third-highest in 2012. The two home runs with higher apexes in 2012: 366-foot home run by Todd Helton on April 14 that had an apex of 162 feet, and a 419-foot bomb by Paul Goldschmidt on April 6 that reached a height of 156 feet.

Liner of the Month: Lowest apex HR
June Winner: Adam Jones, Baltimore Orioles (43 feet)
July Winners: Ryan Ludwick, Cincinnati Reds and Casey Kotchman, Cleveland Indians (47 feet)
Ludwick’s 361-foot HR on July 14 was his lowest apex since the beginning of the tracker in 2006. Kotchman’s 354-foot shot on July 4 also had an apex of 47 feet, the lowest at Progressive Field since May of 2010.

Mother Nature: Most climate-impacted HR
June Winner: Jay Bruce, Cincinnati Reds (+67 feet)
July Winner: Michael Cuddyer, Colorado Rockies (+50 feet)
On July 28, the wind was blowing out at Coors Field when Michael Cuddyer’s 363-foot home run was aided by a 13 mph wind. That carried the ball an extra 50 feet. Only four home runs at Coors Field have been more wind-aided since 2006.

Masher of the Month: Player with greatest average distance (min. 5 HR)
June Winner: Miguel Montero, Arizona Diamondbacks (425.8 feet)
July Winner: Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers (424.9 feet)
Cabrera’s nine home runs in July had an average distance of 424.9 feet, more than five feet more than the next closest player, Edwin Encarnacion. Four of Cabrera’s nine July home runs went at least 440 feet, including his 300th career HR, which went 457 feet.

Team Power Outage of the Month: Team with fewest HR
June Winner: Los Angeles Dodgers (6)
July Winner: San Francisco Giants (14)
After relinquishing the June award to their NL West rivals, the San Francisco Giants once again take the award for fewest home runs. The Giants hit just 14 in July, three more than the 11 the Giants hit in May. Only two of the Giants’ 14 HR in July were hit at home.

Jared Wickerham/Getty ImagesCody Ross connects on his third HR in two days, his third career walk-off HR, in the Red Sox win.
Cody Ross hit a walk-off home run against Chicago White Sox closer Addison Reed to give the Boston Red Sox their fourth win in their past five games. It’s Ross’ third career walk-off home run and fifth career walk-off hit.

His previous walk-off homer came against the Chicago Cubs. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Ross becomes the fourth player in major league history with a walk-off home run against the Cubs AND the White Sox.

Oddly enough, all four of those players hit one against the Cubs and then the White Sox.

It ruined a great outing by 23-year-old White Sox starter Jose Quintana.

For the third time this season, he threw eight shutout innings and got a no-decision.

According to Elias, he’s the first pitcher in baseball’s Modern Era (since 1900) to have three such starts in a single season.

It’s Ross’ third home run in the past two days, and all three of them have been three-run shots. He’s accounted for nine of the team’s 13 RBI in the past two games.

His longball Thursday went down the leftfield line, a spot Ross is becoming familiar with at Fenway Park. Check out his hit chart on the right to see where Ross’ balls in play have gone at home this season. Only three of his hits have been to the right of second base.

Only three of Cody Ross' hits at home have been to the right of second base this season.

For the Red Sox it’s just their second walk-off win of the season -- only three teams have fewer. It’s the first time since 1995 the Red Sox scored their only runs in a game via a walk-off HR. Troy O’Leary took Bobby Ayala deep in a 2-1 win over the Seattle Mariners on June 4 that season.

For the White Sox, it’s their 11th loss in their opponents’ last at-bat -- the Tigers (12) are the only AL team with more. It’s also their 22nd comeback loss this season -- only the Mariners have more in the American League.

The bullpen has been a trouble spot for the White Sox this season.

They entered the night with the most blown saves, the third-worst bullpen ERA and the third-most HR allowed in the American League.

Quintana held the Red Sox hitless (0-for-10) with two strikes, including 0-for-7 against his slider, and recorded a season-high 13 ground ball outs (including a double play).

Boston starter Clay Buchholz was also fantastic, allowing just the one run in eight innings pitched and striking out six. He attacked the Chicago hitters, who went 1-for-12 against pitches on the inside part of the plate or farther in (including 1-for-10 against his fastball/cutter).

When he got to two strikes, he threw seven changeups, and White Sox hitters were 0-for-5 with four strikeouts in at-bats ending with a two-strike change.
Stats & Info insights into this morning's top sports stories.

1. SPURS CLINCH TOP SEED: The San Antonio Spurs defeated the Portland Trail Blazers, 124-89, and clinched the top seed in the Western Conference. Last season, as a one-seed, the Spurs were eliminated in the first round of their playoff series with the Grizzlies. It was the fourth time since the playoffs expanded to 16 teams that a one-seed lost to an eight-seed.

2. COYOTES FINALLY WIN A SERIES: The Phoenix Coyotes defeated the Chicago Blackhawks, 4-0, to win the Western Conference Quarterfinals in six games. It’s the franchise’s first playoff series win since 1987. According to Elias, their streak of 23 consecutive seasons without winning a playoff series (1987-88 through 2010-11) is a NHL record.

3. KREIDER TO THE RESCUE: The New York Rangers defeated the Ottawa Senators, 3-2, to force Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. 20-year old Chris Kreider scored the game-winning goal. According to Elias, Kreider is the third Rangers player to score a playoff goal, before playing in a regular-season game.

Derek Jeter
4. JETER HITS HOLLAND: Derek Jeter went 4-5 in the New York Yankees’ 7-4 win over the Texas Rangers. All four of Jeter’s hits came off Derek Holland. According to Elias, that tied Jeter's career high for hits off the same pitcher in one game. He had previously recorded four hits in a game against Greg Maddux and Bob Tewksbury.

5. ROSS SHOWS POWER: Cody Ross hit two home runs in the Boston Red Sox’ 6-5 win over the Minnesota Twins. Ross tied the game in the seventh inning with a two-run blast, then hit a solo shot in the ninth to put the Red Sox ahead. According to Elias, prior to Ross, the last Red Sox player with a game-tying and game-winning home run, each in the seventh inning or later, was Dwight Evans on June 23, 1990 against the Orioles at Fenway Park.

6. PANDA KEEPS HITTING: Pablo Sandoval recorded hits in both games of the Giants-Mets doubleheader on Monday (Giants won both games). Sandoval has hit safely in his first 16 games this season. According to Elias, he tied the second-longest hit streak to start a season by a Giants player since 1900. The record of 18 was set by Johnny Rucker in 1945.
Stats & Info insights into this morning's top sports stories

1. BLACKHAWKS SCORING LATE: The Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Phoenix Coyotes, 4-3, in overtime. FROM ELIAS: This is the first time in NHL playoff history that a team has scored the game-tying goal with 15 or fewer seconds left in regulation in consecutive games. The Blackhawks forced OT in Game 1 when Brent Seabrook scored a goal with 15 seconds left (Coyotes won game in OT).

2. SPURS, CELTICS CLINCH: Two NBA clinchings took place on Saturday. The San Antonio Spurs defeated the Phoenix Suns, 105-91, and clinched their 18th division title over the last 35 years. The Boston Celtics defeated the New Jersey Nets, 94-82, to secure their fifth straight playoff appearance. Prior to the start of the Pierce/Garnett/Allen era (2007-08), the Celtics had just four playoff appearances in the previous 12 seasons.

3. TURNING ON THE POWER: FROM ELIAS: Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz, Mike Aviles, and Cody Ross all homered at Fenway Park in the Boston Red Sox' 13-5 romp over the Tampa Bay Rays. It was only the third time that a team managed by Bobby Valentine hit five home runs in a home game. It happened previously at Arlington Stadium (Sept. 20, 1985 against the Mariners) and Shea Stadium (June 26, 2000 versus the Marlins).

4. LIGHTNING QUICK: Greg Biffle won the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway. The race was run at a blistering pace. It set track records for fewest cautions (two), fewest caution laps (10), and average speed (160.575 MPH). The previous track record for average speed was 152.7 MPH (about 8 MPH slower).

Brian Wilson
5. WILSON OUT: Giants closer Brian Wilson will likely miss the remainder of the season. Wilson has “structural issues” in his right elbow. Wilson’s 164 saves since 2008 are the most in Major League Baseball. Mariano Rivera is second with 162.
(San Francisco Giants and Philadelphia Phillies play the second game of their three-game series, Wednesday at 7 ET on ESPN.)

Last year, the Giants celebrated a trip to the World Series with a win in Game 6 of the NLCS at Citizens Bank Ballpark. With the two of the three best records in the Senior Circuit this year, these two teams are on a collision course to meet again in the league championship series.

The Phillies entered this series, which they started with a 7-2 win Tuesday, on a roll. They have won their last nine series and haven’t lost consecutive games since a four-game slide May 31-June 4. Even better, they have lost back-to-back home games just once this season, on April 18-19 against the Brewers.

The Giants have the second-best record in the National League behind the Phillies, and arguably have been the most resilient team in baseball. Their 18 wins in their last at-bat are tied for the most in the major leagues, and they also have an MLB-best 29 comeback wins.

On the Mound
Cole Hamels takes the mound for the Phillies looking for his NL-best 13th win. He's allowed three runs or fewer in 12 of his last 13 starts, during which he has a 2.25 ERA. Much of his success this season has been a result of his nearly unhittable changeup.

Hamels has held batters to a .133 average in at-bats ending with his changeup, fourth-best among NL starters. He’s gotten an MLB-best 145 swings-and-misses on the pitch, and 57 strikeouts, the most in the NL. In his last start, the Padres went 0-for-8 with five strikeouts against the pitch.

Tim Lincecum, whose start was pushed back a day because of the flu, has made three career regular-season road starts against the Phillies. Despite a 3.66 ERA, the Giants have lost all three of those starts.

Lincecum has allowed just one home run in his last eight starts, including none in his last three road starts.

Opponents are hitting .212 against Lincecum curveballs in 2011 compared to .362 last season. The biggest difference is that he’s getting more swings and misses. His miss percentage is 31.7 percent on curves this year. Last year it was 20.9 percent.

Lincecum has had control problems this season, which are related mostly to his changeup. More than 60 percent (61.4) of his changeups have been thrown for strikes in 2011, way down from 70.8 percent in 2010.

Matchup to Watch
Cody Ross, the NLCS MVP last year, looks to continue his success at the plate when facing Hamels. Ross has nine hits in his last 22 at-bats against the southpaw, including four home runs. Ross is the only player to hit four long balls against Hamels.

Stat of the Game
The Giants lead the majors with a 27-13 record in one-run games. They are on pace for 42 one-run wins. That would tie the major-league record for one-run victories, set by the 1978 Giants.

Edinson Volquez is at his worst in the first

June, 12, 2011
The 10-2 win by the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday was the second-biggest win that a Dusty Baker managed team has had against the San Francisco Giants since he left the franchise following the 2002 season.
Edison Volquez

His biggest win against them was a 10-1 win in April of 2008. The winning pitcher that day was Edinson Volquez, Sunday night’s starter.

Volquez did not have as much luck in his last start against the Giants. Last August, he went just ⅔ of an inning allowing five earned runs, the most he's allowed in the first inning in any start of his career. That also was the shortest start of Volquez’s career.

This will be particularly interesting to watch on Sunday night as Volquez’s biggest struggles this season have been early in games.

He has a 16.36 ERA in the first inning. Once he gets though the first, his ERA drops to 3.26. He’s allowed six home runs in the first inning (tied for most in MLB), and just three the rest of the game.

Twice this season, Volquez has allowed back-to-back homers to a team’s first two batters of a game. Only two other active pitchers have had two such games in their careers: Chad Durbin (both in 2000) and Ted Lilly (2001 and 2005).

The struggles led to a demotion on May 23 for Volquez, who was the Reds' opening day starter. In his first start following the demotion, he improved upon his early struggles, striking out two in a scoreless first inning.

Volquez will be happy to see one familiar face on the Giants. That’s Cody Ross, who is 0-for-8 in his career against Volquez with two strikeouts.

The only hitters with more at-bats without a hit against Volquez are Geoff Blum and Carlos Lee (0-for-12). Ross only has one pitcher against whom he has more at-bats without a single hit. He’s 0-for-10 against Tommy Hanson.

Opposing Volquez will be Jonathan Sanchez, who has posted the lowest opponent batting average by any pitcher since 2010. So why isn’t he among the elite pitchers in the game? He has also walked 141 batters during that span, by far the most in the majors.

More bad news for Sanchez, no National League team has handled lefties better this season than the Reds. In fact Cincinnati’s batting average against left-handed pitchers is best in all of the majors.

This hasn’t translated to victories though as even with this hot hitting, the Reds are just 7-6 against lefty starters.
Mitch Moreland's three-run home run was the fourth three-run HR by the Texas Rangers this postseason. All other teams have combined for two. Moreland is now 7-for-17 at home this postseason with two walks. (During the regular season, he had a .411 OBP at home.)

From the Elias Sports Bureau: Mitch Moreland is the first rookie first baseman to start the first three games of a World Series since Jackie Robinson in 1947.
Josh Hamilton

• Josh Hamilton's fifth HR of the postseason made him the first American League batting champion to hit a home run in the World Series since Bernie Williams in 1998. He also has four home runs off left-handed pitchers. That ties the record for most HR by a left-handed hitter against left-handed pitchers in a single postseason. Hamilton shares the mark with Rusty Staub (1973 Mets) and Chase Utley (2009 Phillies).

• Jonathan Sanchez allowed just five home runs in 138 at-bats during the regular season to left-handed batters. However, the last four home runs he's allowed have all been hit by left-handed hitters: Kosuke Fukudome, Kelly Johnson, Moreland and Hamilton).

• Nelson Cruz's second-inning double gives him seven this postseason. That ties the MLB postseason record previously set by Hideki Matsui (2004), Mike Lowell (2007) and Jayson Werth (2008).

• Neftali Feliz (22 years, 182 days) is the second-youngest pitcher to save a World Series game. Bob Welch was 21 years, 342 days when he recorded a save against the New York Yankees in the 1978 World Series.

• Cody Ross's fifth HR extended his postseason hitting streak to 10 games, tied for the second-longest in Giants history (Irish Meusel 11, Alvin Dark 10).

• Pat Burrell struck out in all four at-bats in Game 3, and is now 0-for-9 with eight strikeouts in the World Series. With the series guaranteed to go at least two more games, Burrell could set the record for most strikeouts in one World Series. That record currently is held by Ryan Howard, who struck out nine times in last year's World Series.

A Giant step for San Francisco

October, 24, 2010
San Francisco’s dominant pitching staff and timely hitting propelled the Giants into the World Series for the fourth time since moving to San Francisco and the first time since 2002. Entering Game Six of the NLCS, the Giants starters had an ERA of 2.84 so it was not a particularly good sign when Game Six starter Jonathan Sanchez became the 14th starter in Giants postseason history to pitch two innings or fewer.

Sanchez’s short stint however, did not do the Giants in as manager Bruce Bochy made a historic call to the bullpen that helped the Giants advance to the World Series.

According to the Elias Sport Bureau, Saturday was the first time in postseason history that a team used four straight left-handed pitchers in a game (Jonathan Sanchez, Jeremy Affeldt, Madison Bumgarner and Javier Lopez). When it was all said and done, five Giants relievers combined to hold the Phillies without a run over the final seven innings. It was the most innings pitched without allowing a run by the winning team’s relievers in a postseason series-clinching game that did not go to extra innings since Game Five of the 1984 NLCS (Padres’ bullpen combined for 7 ⅔ scoreless innings against the Cubs).

Closer Brian Wilson sealed the deal by getting five outs to earn his third save of the series. Wilson posted a win and three saves in this year’s NLCS. According to the Elias Sport Bureau he became the fourth pitcher to win or save four games in one postseason series since saves became an official major-league statistic (in 1969). He joins Dennis Eckersley (1988 ALCS), Mitch Williams (1993 NLCS) and John Wetteland (1996 World Series) as the only four pitchers to accomplish that feat.

Besides stingy pitching, Juan Uribe's tiebreaking solo HR off Ryan Madson in the eighth inning was the difference in the game. The bomb by Uribe was his first postseason homer since his first postseason game, Game One of the 2005 ALDS (for White Sox). He went 23 postseason games without a home run, but once the streak was snapped Uribe became the fifth Giants player with a go-ahead home run in the eighth inning or later of a postseason game.

Outfielder Cody Ross was named NLCS MVP after batting .350 with three HR and five RBI. Ross became the fifth player in MLB history to start the season with a different team and win the LCS or World Series MVP award. He also extended his postseason hit streak to seven and hit a double for the third straight game. The latter is tied with Willie Mays for the second-longest such streak in Giants franchise history (Edgardo Alfonzo holds the record with a double in four straight games).

The Giants victory was their sixth, one-run win this postseason as they become just the third team in MLB history with that many one-run wins in a postseason.

Looking ahead, the Giants and Rangers have gone a combined 104 seasons worth of baseball without a World Series win. The Giants have not won a title in 55 seasons while the Rangers have never won a title in their 49 seasons as a franchise. It's the second World Series in the last 50 years (non-strike season) in which both teams had 92 wins or fewer. The other was 1997 (Marlins vs Indians).

NLCS Game 6 Preview: Giants at Phillies

October, 23, 2010
A quick preview of Game 6 of the National League Championship Series between the San Francisco Giants and the Philadelphia Phillies.

Roy Oswalt and Jonathan Sanchez will take the mound Saturday in a rematch of Game 2. Oswalt is 10-0 in his career at Citizens Bank Ballpark, combining regular and postseason. The only other pitcher to win his first 10 decisions in that park is Clay Condrey (10 straight).

And Oswalt has won the only Game 6 he previously pitched in, beating the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 6 of the 2005 NLCS to clinch the series.

In Game 2 in Philadelphia, Oswalt went eight innings, allowing just three hits and striking out nine, including Andres Torres all four times he faced him. The only run he allowed came on a Cody Ross home run. Ross has a hit in six straight games, the longest in the postseason by a Giant since Kenny Lofton’s six-game streak in 2002. The last seven-game streak came that same year, courtesy of J.T. Snow.

FROM THE ELIAS SPORS BUREAU: Pat Burrell hit two home runs this season when the Giants played in Philly, giving him 76 during the regular season at Citizens Bank Park, the highest total for any right-handed batter.

The Phillies lost Game 4 when neither starter finished the fifth inning and it turned into a matchup of bullpens. With a day off yesterday, the Phils should be able to stick to their big guns. Jose Contreras, J.C. Romero, Ryan Madson and Brad Lidge are Charlie Manuel’s most trusted relievers, and they’ve shown up big time in the playoffs. In 13 2/3 innings combined this postseason, they’ve allowed only four hits and no runs, with almost four times as many strikeouts as walks (15/4).

Jonathan Sanchez
Left-hander Jonathan Sanchez gets the ball for the Giants tonight. Chase Utley (1-for-12 with a single) and Jayson Werth (0-for-9) are a combined 1-for-21 (.048) against left-handed pitching this postseason.

Utley had a .581 slugging percentage against lefties during the 2010 regular season, the highest of his career. But Werth's .287 batting average versus lefties in 2010 was his lowest in his four seasons with the Phillies.

In Game 2, Phillies lefties were 2-for-7 with two walks against Sanchez, while righties went 3-for-17 with a walk and four strikeouts.

After striking out three times in Game 5, Ryan Howard has eight career three-strikeout games in the postseason, the most in major league history. Next on the list is Reggie Sanders, the only other player with six such games.

However, in Game 2, Howard went 2-for-2 against the left-handed Sanchez, walking once and not striking out. Howard is 5-for-16 in his career against Sanchez with four extra-base hits.

NLCS Game 5 Preview: Phillies at Giants

October, 21, 2010
A quick preview of Game 5 of the National League Championship Series between the Philadelphia Phillies and the San Francisco Giants.

• The Phillies have won six straight Game 5s, the longest streak in postseason history. The Giants have won five straight Game 5s, tied for the second-longest such streak.

• The last two times the Phillies have been down 3-1 in a best-of-seven series, they've won Game 5.

• The Phillies are 4-0 in Game 5s on the road. Their four-game win streak is tied for the second-longest in postseason history.

• On the other hand, the Giants have won four straight home Game 5s. That’s tied for the third-longest streak in postseason history. With a win, they'll tie the Pittsburgh Pirates (from 1909-92) for the second-longest streak. The longest is six, by the New York Yankees from 1976-2001.

Roy Halladay and Tim Lincecum will take the mound Thursday in a rematch of Game 1. Halladay has pitched twice at AT&T Park in his career, and he’s allowed 10 runs in 12 1/3 innings in those two games.

And this season, the Giants have given him problems. His 5.79 ERA against San Francisco is easily his worst against any team he faced more than once this year.

Cody Ross, who was 3-16 with 0 HR career in the regular season vs Halladay, hit two home runs against him in Game 1. Pat Burrell (.381 in 21 at-bats) and Edgar Renteria (.364 in 11 at-bats) have hit Halladay well in their careers.

At age 26, Lincecum could become the third-youngest Giants pitcher to win the clinching game of a postseason series. It’s a fun list: The top two are Madison Bumgarner (2010 NLDS) and Christy Mathewson (1905 WS).

FROM ELIAS SPORTS BUREAU: Lincecum has 22 strikeouts in his first two postseason games, tying Bob Gibson for the most strikeouts in a player’s first two career postseason games. The record for most strikeouts in a player’s first three postseason games is 31, also by Gibson.

Lincecum will need to be careful in the middle of the Phillies order. Placido Polanco (.333 in nine at-bats), Ryan Howard (.318, three HR in 22 at-bats) and Jayson Werth (.364, two HR in 11 at-bats) have all had success against the Giants starter.

In fact, six of Howard’s seven career hits against Lincecum (three doubles and three home runs) have gone for extra bases!

And Phils manager Charlie Manuel made a move in Game 4, replacing the lefty-hitting Raul Ibanez with right-hander Ben Francisco. Looking ahead to Game 5, who plays left field will be anybody's guess. Ibanez is just 1-for-12 with five strikeouts in his career against Lincecum, but Francisco has never faced him.

• Jeff Nelson will be the home plate umpire in Game 5. Tim Lincecum has never pitched with Nelson calling balls and strikes, and Halladay is 2-2 in four career starts with a 2.83 ERA.

• For Phillies fans, here’s something to hang your hats on. October 21st has been a good day in Phillies history:

1980 - The Phillies win their first World Series, beating the Royals in Game 6.

1993 - Curt Schilling pitches a shutout, with the Phillies down 3-games-to-1 in the World Series to the Blue Jays. The Phillies win 2-0 to force a Game 6.

2009 - The Phillies clinch the NLCS by beating the Dodgers, 10-4, in Game 5.
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.

Cary Edmondson/US Presswire
Matt Cain's gem has the San Francisco Giants up 2-1 in the NLCS.

The San Francisco Giants' Matt Cain became the fifth National League starter to pitch at least seven innings, allow no runs, two hits or fewer and win a league championship series game, and the first since Josh Beckett in 2003 against the Chicago Cubs.

There have now been four starts this postseason (Roy Halladay, Tim Lincecum, Cliff Lee, Cain) of at least seven innings, allowing two hits or fewer and no runs. That's the most such starts in a single postseason, surpassing the previous mark of three in both 1999 and 2000.

The Phillies were 0-for-9 against pitches by Cain that were not fastballs. Combined with the Atlanta Braves' performance from last week, hitters are 1-15 (.067 batting average) against Cain's "soft stuff" this postseason.

Cain retired the leadoff hitter in all seven innings he pitched. It was also the second straight postseason start that he did not allow an extra-base hit.

The Giants are the fourth team in history to get a pair of starts of seven innings or more, allowing no runs and two hits or fewer in the same postseason.

This marks the first time the Giants have had two shutouts in the same postseason since the 1917 World Series.

Cody Ross now has seven RBI in seven postseason games, matching the total he had in 33 games (73 at-bats) with the Giants during the regular season. Ross also has at least one RBI in each game in this series. The only player in Giants history with an RBI in five straight postseason games is Barry Bonds in 2002.

This is the sixth time the Philadelphia Phillies have trailed a best-of-7 series two games to one. Only once have the Phillies come back to win that series.

NLCS Game 3 Preview: Phillies at Giants

October, 19, 2010
A quick preview of Game 3 of the National League Championship Series between the Philadelphia Phillies and the San Francisco Giants.

FROM ELIAS SPORTS BUREAU: In a seven game series, teams who win Game 3 after being tied 1-1 are 56-23 to win the series.

The Phillies are 3-7 in AT&T Park since 2008. They hit .175 in three games there this season, losing two of them. But since 2008, the Phils are 9-6 in postseason games on the road.

Cole Hamels
Cole Hamels will start Game 3 for the Phillies, and his 6.12 ERA in four starts at AT&T Park is his worst in any ballpark that he’s pitched in more than once. However, Hamels is 4-0 in four career postseason road starts with a 2.22 ERA. Hamels is one of four pitchers in postseason history to win his first four postseason road starts from the start of his career, joining Lefty Gomez, Bob Gibson, and Kevin Brown.

In two starts against the Giants this season, Hamels has been roughed up for 16 hits and 9 runs in 11 innings (7.36 ERA). The Giants have been aggressive with Hamels, hitting a whopping .706 (12-17) on pitches early in the count. When Hamels gets to two strikes, he’s nearly unhittable: the Giants are just 2-for-25 in two-strike counts.

Giants outfielder Cody Ross will be excited to see Hamels on the mound Tuesday. Ross is 9-30 in his career against Hamels with four home runs. That's his most home runs off of any pitcher and the most home runs Hamels has allowed to any hitter.

Of the 21 pitchers who Ross has faced at least 15 times, his slugging percentage of .733 against Hamels ranks second. The only pitcher he slugs better against is Oliver Perez (.889). And Ross has a history of hitting for power against left-handed pitching. Among active players, with a minimum of 500 plate appearances against lefties, Ross’ .595 slugging percentage is fifth. The players ahead of him: Albert Pujols, Ryan Braun, Manny Ramirez and David Wright.

Cody Ross
Hamels might want to throw his off-speed pitches, especially early in the count, when he faces Ross. All four home runs that Ross has hit off Hamels have come against fastballs, and all have come early in the count. In addition, all three homers that Ross has hit in the NLCS have come against fastballs.

The Giants counter with Matt Cain, who went 6 ⅔ innings allowing zero earned runs, in his postseason debut against the Atlanta Braves. He lost his only start against the Phillies this season, but allowed only two earned runs in six innings. In his career, Cain is 0-3 in five starts against Philadelphia, and his 6.23 ERA is his highest against any team that he’s faced more than once.

Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley both have great histories against Cain: Rollins is 6-for-10 and Utley is 7-for-15 with three home runs. In his career, Cain has allowed more homers to just two other hitters. And of the 59 pitchers that Utley has at least 15 at-bats against (including postseason), his .467 BA against Cain is his best against anyone.

With Ted Barrett behind the plate, things don’t get any better for Cain. He’s started once with Barrett calling balls and strikes, walking four, allowing seven hits and three earned runs in four innings.
Jimmy Rollins
With their 6-1 win Sunday, the Phillies evened the NLCS with the Giants at one game apiece. Jimmy Rollins drove in four of those runs, tying a record he previously had along with former Giant Rich Aurilia for most RBI by a shortstop in a postseason game.

Three of Rollins' RBI came on a bases-clearing double in the seventh inning. How unlikely was that clutch hit? Rollins was hitless in two previous at-bats with the bases loaded in the postseason. More significantly, over the last three regular seasons he was only 4-for-38 (.105) with the bases loaded. That's the lowest such average among the 91 major-league players who had at least 35 at-bats with the bags full during that span.

The Giants' Cody Ross hit his fourth home run this postseason and third this series. All four of Ross' home runs have been solo shots, second most in Giants postseason history to Barry Bonds' six solo home runs.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Ross, who hit both of the Giants’ home runs in Game One of the NLCS, and then homered for San Francisco’s lone run in Game Two, is the fourth player in major-league history to hit each of his team’s first three home runs in a postseason series. The others were Babe Ruth (Yankees) in the 1926 World Series, Rusty Staub (Mets) in the 1973 NLCS and Willie Stargell (Pirates) in the 1979 World Series.

Ross is the boss in Halladay's loss

October, 17, 2010

The San Francisco Giants rode Cody Ross' hot bat to a win over the Philadelphia Phillies in Game 1 of the NLCS at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia. Let's take a look at some of the notes, stats and trends that emerged:

• Dating back to the final two games of the 2003 NLDS against the Florida Marlins, the Giants have now played seven straight postseason games decided by one run. That is tied for the longest such streak in MLB history, according to our friends at the Elias Sports Bureau.

• Bad news for Phillies fans: the franchise has never come back to win a postseason series after dropping Game 1. Entering this series, the Phillies are 0-6 all-time in series in which they lost the first game. The last time the Phillies lost a Game 1 was the 2007 NLDS against the Colorado Rockies.

• The Giants have now won Game 1 in each of their last seven postseason series. That ties a National League record. Coincidentally, one of the teams they are now tied with is the Phillies. The Phillies had won their last seven Game 1s before Saturday's loss. The other NL team to do this was the Atlanta Braves from 1995 to 1997.

• Ross hit a pair of home runs off of Phillies ace Roy Halladay as he became the second player in MLB history to hit two home runs in his LCS debut. The other was Gary Gaetti for the 1987 Minnesota Twins.

• Ross is also just the fourth eight-hole hitter to hit two home runs in a postseason game. The last was Chad Curtis in Game 3 of the 1999 World Series.

• Halladay retired the first seven batters he faced before Ross' first home run in the third inning. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, his streak of 34 consecutive opponent at-bats without a hit allowed is the second longest in MLB postseason history. Don Larsen's streak reached 36 over a three-game span from 1956 to 1957.

• Halladay is now 0-2 with a 5.79 ERA in his two starts against the Giants this season (regular season and posteason).

Tim Lincecum surrendered three runs over seven innings pitched to pick up the win. He's now 7-1 with a 1.87 ERA since the beginning of September (regular season and postseason combined).

Jayson Werth hit his 12th career postseason home run. He's hit 10 for the Phillies and also hit a pair for the Los Angeles Dodgers back in 2004. His 12 postseason home runs hit for NL teams are one shy of the all-time record currently shared by Albert Pujols, Jim Edmonds and Chipper Jones.

Carlos Ruiz also went deep for the Phillies. He's now hit four career postseason home runs, all batting from the eight-hole. In postseason history, only Scott Brosius (five) has hit more home runs batting eighth.

Ryan Howard went 1-4 with three strikeouts. Howard has now whiffed at least three times in seven postseason games. That is the most in MLB postseason history.