Surprise, surprise.  A 2010 playoff game ended up being all about pitching.

Game 2 of the National League Championship Series between the Philadelphia Phillies and San Francisco Giants ended up being a story of the two starting pitchers:  Roy Oswalt and Jonathan Sanchez.

Oswalt pitched an absolute gem, throwing eight innings of three-hit baseball, allowing only one run while striking out nine and walking three.

It was just what the Phillies needed to even up the series after the Giants did the unthinkable by beating Roy Halladay in Game 1.

Sanchez didn’t pitch poorly for the Giants, but he was still out-dueled by Oswalt.

In the first inning, Sanchez was wild.  He struck out the side, but only after three walks and an error, leading to an unearned run.

Sanchez then settled down and started mowing down Phillies batters, and his teammates eventually rewarded him when Cody Ross launched a home run off Oswalt in the fifth.

But the Phillies immediately retook the lead in the bottom of the fifth after a leadoff double and two sacrifice flies.

Philadelphia would hold on to the lead and extend it, eventually winning the game, 6-1.

So, what does this mean for each team?


San Francisco Giants

This certainly isn’t the end of the world for San Francisco.  They are still in very good shape.  At the start of the series, the Phillies had Hallday, Oswalt and Cole Hamels lined up to start the first three games. 

Staring down that murderer’s row of pitchers, the Giants teed off on Halladay in Game 1, earning the win and establishing confidence.

If they can hit Halladay, they can hit anyone.  Though they didn’t hit Oswalt last night, they should still be confident when they have to face him again.

Also, the Giants went into Philly and earned a split.  That’s about as good of an outcome as they could have hoped for.  Now the pressure is on the Phillies to win a game in San Francisco.


Philadelphia Phillies

That win was just what the doctor ordered for the Phillies.  Game 2 is too early for a must-win game in most playoff series, but it was just that for Philadelphia.

You can’t go down 2-0 heading to San Francisco and hope to win two ballgames against the Giants’ young arms.

Cole Hamels vs. Matt Cain in Game 3 on Tuesday afternoon will be the pivotal matchup in this year’s NLCS.

Whoever wins that game will be in the driver’s seat for the rest of the series.

While the matchup appears to be about pitching, it’s more about the offenses.

Can the Phillies build off their offensive success in Game 2, or will the Giants’ young arms return to form and shut them down.

Also, how will the lefty Hamels fare against the right-handed bats the Giants bring to the table.


Game 3 Prediction

Matt Cain and the San Francisco Giants will take their first home game in this series, 3-2.  San Francisco’s offense will do just enough against Hamels to earn a victory, while Cain will hold Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and the Philadelphia offense to few enough runs to get the win.

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