Phillies aces find hard going against Giants

Phillies aces Cole Hamels (left) and Roy Halladay talk during warm-ups leading up to Game 4 of the NLCS. Both have lost to the underdog San Francisco Giants in this series.
Phillies aces Cole Hamels (left) and Roy Halladay talk during warm-ups leading up to Game 4 of the NLCS. Both have lost to the underdog San Francisco Giants in this series.
Posted: October 21, 2010

SAN FRANCISCO - In his first season in the National League, Roy Halladay didn't have much difficulty figuring out opposing hitters, and it's likely he'll have a Cy Young Award to prove it.

Yet, there are always exceptions in the wacky game of baseball. In Halladay's case, the exception has been the San Francisco Giants, the club that just so happens to be standing in the way of the Phillies' quest for a third consecutive World Series appearance.

Halladay will get another opportunity to get a handle on the Giants when he and Tim Lincecum match up again Thursday night in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series. Lincecum took Round 1 of the duel between the game's two top righthanders, 4-3, in the series opener.

Halladay is 0-2 with a 7.23 ERA against the Giants this season, including the playoffs, surprising because San Francisco's lineup is far from intimidating. The Giants have roughed him up for 18 hits in 14 innings.

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel offered a theory on why the Giants had success against Halladay in those two games. He said they go after him early in the count because Halladay's modus operandi is to get ahead of the hitters.

"Roy is a strike-thrower, and they go up swinging on him," Manuel said before Wednesday's Game 4 at AT&T Park. "I think that they're aggressive, and I think Roy is mostly around the plate."

Of course, Halladay is mostly around the plate against every team, and he was quick to quash Manuel's theory.

"No, I don't think so," he said. "Obviously, the two games this year, I made pitches I didn't want to make. The pitches that cost me weren't quality pitches. So it really gets back to doing a better job executing pitches, which is how it is with all teams."

Halladay gave up two bases-empty homers to Cody Ross in Game 1. It's no stretch to say those two homers served as a psychological boost to the Giants, who came into the series as decided underdogs. Ross has been a scourge to most pitchers in the playoffs, but Halladay indicated that he has some adjustments in mind for his next encounters with Ross.

"We have some ideas," he said. "But he's hitting good pitches at times, something that he wasn't doing much in Florida. Obviously, he's in a good groove now and we have to make some adjustments."

The Phillies' runs against Lincecum in Game 1 were the result of a two-run homer by Jayson Werth and a solo homer by Carlos Ruiz at Citizens Bank Park. This will be Lincecum's third career postseason start. In Game 1 of the NL division series against Atlanta, he pitched a two-hit shutout and struck out 14. His brilliant performance came the night after Halladay pitched a no-hitter against Cincinnati in Game 1 of the NLDS, whetting the appetite for a matchup between the Cy Young winner from the last two years and this season's anticipated winner.

Lincecum hinted that he expects runs to be harder to come by in his second matchup against Halladay because of AT&T Park's bigger dimensions.

"Obviously, people see this park as a pitcher-friendly park," the 170-pound Lincecum said. "So you try to pitch to the confines of it."


Contact staff writer Ray Parrillo at 215-854-2743 or rparrillo@phillynews.com.

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