Phillies fall to Giants in Game 1 of NLDS, 4-3

They cautioned against the blaring hype of a pitchers’ duel with
one steady warning.
You never know.

The players and managers of both the
Phillies and Giants said this
because they know. They know how hard it is for a pitcher – even
ones with the biological and mental qualities of Roy Halladay and
Tim Lincecum – to repeat the motion of throwing a baseball
approximately 100 times and expect precision when it leaves the
hand.

They also know this undeniable principle: It is impossible for a
pitcher to control every variable.

In the sixth inning of the
Phillies’ 4-3 loss to San Francisco
in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series, Halladay
began his walk from the mound to the dugout after throwing a 90
m.p.h. cutter on the black to Pat Burrell with two outs.

Halladay executed his pitch. He thought it was a strike.

“Yeah, I did,” Halladay later said.

But home plate umpire Derryl Cousins did not agree. It was
close, Charlie Manuel said, this much is sure.

Burrell hit the next pitch for a run-scoring double off Raul
Ibanez’s glove to pad the Giants’ lead. Juan Uribe followed with an
RBI single. That was the game.

And that’s why you never know. The
Phillies lost a Game 1 for the first
time in eight series. The favorites to win a third consecutive
National League pennant suddenly face some measure of
adversity.

They lost with their ace and presumptive Cy Young Award winner
on the mound. Halladay, 10 days removed from throwing a no-hitter
in his postseason debut, was hittable. So was Lincecum, but he had
enough go right on this night.

In seven innings, Halladay allowed four runs on eight hits. He
retired the first seven batters he faced before Cody Ross, the 36th
hitter to challenge Halladay this postseason, had the first hit
against him. It was a solo home run, crushed deep into the
left-field stands.

You never know because no one would have predicted Ross – San
Francisco’s No. 8 hitter – to hit two home runs off Halladay. Ross,
the former Florida Marlin and noted
Phillies killer, was claimed off
waivers by the Giants at the end of August simply to block him from
the San Diego Padres.

That makes him – along with Burrell, who was also released
earlier this season -the unlikely Giants heroes of Game 1. At best,
Ross did enough to show the rest of the baseball world that,
indeed, Roy Halladay is human.

“It was a bit of a reality check,” closer Brad Lidge said.
“You’re always surprised when Roy gets hit. It’s once in a blue
moon.”

The Ross home runs bothered Halladay, but he was especially
perturbed in the sixth after Cousins did not grant the strike call
to Burrell as the pitcher expected. After Uribe’s single extended
the San Francisco lead (and provided what ultimately was the
deciding run), Halladay muttered some callous words to Cousins as
he passed the umpire.

It’s not that the
Phillies couldn’t muster quality
swings off Lincecum. Both Carlos Ruiz and Jayson Werth homered.
Chase Utley just missed one in the first inning. Twice, the
Phillies stranded runners in scoring
position.

“I think we need to hit better,” Manuel proclaimed.

Lincecum needed 30 pitches to finish the sixth. He batted in the
seventh and then set the
Phillies down in order on just 11
pitches.

As Shane Victorino struck out against the bearded San Francisco
closer Brian Wilson to end the game, he tapped his bat on the
ground. The Giants stormed out of the dugout to celebrate.

The
Phillies and their fans left the
stadium saddled with this deflating reality: Down an ace, they
trail a series.

“You find out,” Halladay said, “what you’re made of.”

Contact staff writer Matt Gelb at 215-854-2928 or
mgelb@phillynews.com.

Follow on Twitter @magelb.