Pat the Bat may have to spray paint his pants on, but that doesn’t mean he can’t come up with a clutch hit. Breaking a 2-2 tie with a solor homer, Burrell helped the Phillies beat an impressive Derek Lowe in game 1 of the NLCS. Winning game 1 of any series is always important, but this one was big in my opinion. Why?
Because of the pitching match-ups.
With Billinglsey vs Myers tonight, I would have to give the edge to the Dodgers. Myers can be overpowering when he’s on, but the problem is you never know which pitcher he is going to be when he takes the mound. Billingsley has shown more consistency, so the Dodgers have the advantage tonight.
Game 3 will feature Jamie Moyer (the pitchers’ Julio Franco) and rookie Hiroki Kuroda. Despit Kuroda’s solid ERA this season, this match-up favors the Phils because of Moyer’s experience.
Then Game 4 will feature Joe Blanton against a TBD opponent. Blanton had a high ERA for the year, but can turn in a quality start. Not knowing who he’ll face yet, it’s tough to determine which team will have the advantage.
All that to say, I think the pitching match-ups are fairly even once you get past the number one starters. Which makes Derek Lowe and Cole Hamels pivotal in this series. With 7 games, each ace will get to pitch twice. The Phillies have put themselves in a position where they could conceivably get two wins from theirs. That’s huge and helps the team’s chances immensley because it puts the burden on the right member of their pitching staff and not on the bottom half of the rotation.
If Philly wins only 1 of the next 3, then the quest for a third win will be in good hands when they turn to Hamels. Or if Philly loses the next 3 games, Hamels will back as the stopper. Again, he’s the he’s exactly the one they would want in that position.
By winning the first game, the Phillies have almost ensured that they will be competitive in this series, and they’ve given themselves a great shot at moving on to the World Series.