Inside the Game: Order shifted for 2, restored for others

You could tell in the days leading up to this National League
Championship Series that Roy Oswalt could not wait to pitch again
after a rough five-inning outing that still had a happy ending
against the Cincinnati Reds.

Who knew the
Phillies’ prized in-season addition
was eager to hit and run the bases, too?

The veteran righthander did all of the above as the primary
difference maker Sunday night in the
Phillies’ 6-1 victory over the San
Francisco Giants that evened the best-of-seven series at one game
apiece.

Here are some of the key decisions and plays from Game 2 at
Citizens Bank Park:

Looking good

For most of Game 1, Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins did not look
good, striking out a combined six times in eight at-bats. But the
ability of those two men to look at a variety of Jonathan Sanchez
pitches in the first inning accounted for the
Phillies’ first run.

Howard fouled off a two-strike slider and a two-strike fastball
before working a walk that loaded the bases with one out, and
Rollins drew a five-pitch walk to force in the run.

Howard ended up having two more good at-bats against the
lefthander Sanchez, lining a two-out double in the third and a
two-out single in the fifth.

Rollins got a fortunate infield hit in the fourth when the
Giants let a pop-up fall in front of the pitcher’s mound, and then
the shortstop came through with a bases-loaded double in the
seventh after working a 2-0 count off righthanded reliever Santiago
Casilla.

That’s why manager Charlie Manuel keeps putting Rollins’ name in
the lineup.

Movement matters

The velocity on Oswalt’s fastball was not any different in this
Game 2 start than it was in his Game 2 start of the division series
against Cincinnati. What was different was the movement.

Against the Reds, Oswalt threw his two-seam sinking fastball 23
times, and the batters swung and missed just twice.

Against the Giants, Oswalt used his sinker 45 times and got nine
swinging strikes and 33 strikes total.

Chin music for Ross

Thirty years ago, Dickie Noles threw a high inside fastball in
Game 4 of the World Series that decked Hall of Famer George Brett
and triggered an umpire warning to both benches.

The story is that Noles’ purpose pitch turned the World Series
momentum back in the
Phillies’ direction. Brett was
hitting .545 (6 for 11) with two doubles, a triple, and a home run
at that point of the series.

He struck out in that at-bat and batted .231 (3 for 13) with
three singles the remainder of the series as the
Phillies won the first title in
franchise history.

This comes up now because Oswalt threw a similar purpose pitch
in the second inning. After watching undersized Cody Ross launch
two Roy Halladay fastballs for home runs in Game 1, Oswalt’s third
pitch – a 93-m.p.h. fastball – sent the Giants’ rightfielder
ducking for cover.

Ross responded by drawing a five-pitch walk in that plate
appearance, then hit an Oswalt fastball for his third home run of
the series to tie the game in the fifth inning.

Oswalt finally retired Ross in the seventh, but it was a long,
loud out that settled in centerfielder Shane Victorino’s glove as
he stood on the warning track in the deepest part of the
ballpark.

The lineup shuffle

Manuel made one minor change to his lineup for Game 2, and it
proved to be a productive one.

It was a lineup switch that the manager also had implemented
eight times, with mixed results, during the regular season when the

Phillies went against a lefthanded
starter.

Third baseman Placido Polanco moved down one spot to third in
the batting order, and second baseman Chase Utley moved up one spot
to second. The
Phillies were 4-4 during the regular
season when Manuel shuffled the two infielders. One of those wins
was against the Giants, but the lefthander that evening was Barry
Zito, who was left off San Francisco’s playoff roster.

The
Phillies lost twice to Sanchez
during the regular season, but Polanco and Utley batted in their
customary positions in each game.

When the
Phillies scored in the first Sunday
night, Utley and Polanco were in the middle of the action without
getting a hit.

Utley worked a five-pitch walk without swinging, then stole
second base. Polanco fouled off two tough breaking pitches from
Sanchez before grounding the ball at third baseman Mike Fontenot.
An errant throw across the diamond resulted in an error that
allowed Utley to move to third, triggering a chain of events that
led to a laborious 35-pitch inning for Sanchez.

The combination of Utley and Polanco produced again without a
hit in the fifth.

After Victorino led off with a double down the third-base line,
Manuel initially ordered a sacrifice bunt from Utley. After he
failed to connect with Sanchez’s first pitch, the sacrifice was
waved off, and Utley lined out to right field, getting the desired
result by moving Victorino to third.

Polanco followed by hitting a first-pitch fastball into center
field for a sacrifice fly that gave the
Phillies a 2-1 lead.

Oswalt helped himself in the seventh with a leadoff single that
chased Sanchez from the game, and eventually Utley and Polanco were
involved again. Utley drew an intentional walk after a sacrifice
bunt by Victorino, and Polanco delivered an RBI single.

Owned Part I

Giants leadoff man Andres Torres did not have good numbers
against Oswalt going into the game, and they only got worse. Torres
was 2 for 10 with four strikeouts in his career before Sunday
night.

He is now 2 for 14 with eight strikeouts.

Owned Part II

Sanchez is to Jayson Werth what Oswalt is to Torres. Werth went
into the game 0 for 12 with six strikeouts in his career against
Sanchez. He is now 0 for 15 with eight strikeouts.

Contact staff writer Bob Brookover at 215-854-2577 or
bbrookover@phillynews.com.