Key change: Phillies wait for strikes;GAME 2 ADJUSTMENTS

PHILADELPHIA – In a pitching matchup for the ages, which this

National League Championship Series was billed to be, all games

were to be low-scoring, close and gripping. Late Sunday night,

however, Game 2 was so one-sided that both teams’ closers might as

well have been in street clothes sitting on the bus bound for the

Philadelphia International Airport.

That’s how much they were needed.

The

Giants played five straight one-run

postseason adventures before finally giving in. The Phillies, known

for solid pitching and an offense that was supposed to be better

than the numbers indicate, quickly built up Jonathan Sanchez’s

pitch count, scored four runs in the seventh inning and cruised to

a 6-1 victory.

“Pitching has been pushed to the forefront in this series,”

Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard said, “so when you can get an

outburst of runs, you’ll definitely take it. If we can win every

game 6-1, we’d love that. If we have to win 2-1, we’ll take that,

too.”

One night after Tim Lincecum outdueled Roy Halladay in what was

to be the Mother of All Pitching Duels, Roy Oswalt bettered them

both Sunday, lasting eight innings and surrendering one run and

three hits.

Sanchez wasn’t so fortunate, facing a lineup that was far more

patient than Atlanta’s in Game 3 of the Division Series. The Braves

chased most everything Sanchez threw near the plate, especially his

sliders, and he struck out 11 and walked just one in 7 1/2

innings.

The story was different in Philly, where Charlie Manuel reminded

his hitters beforehand that Sanchez led the league in walks and was

susceptible to a high pitch count with a bit of plate

discipline.

One night after the

Giants carried out a game plan of

aggressive hitting against Halladay, the Phillies did the opposite

and made Sanchez work. The lefty struck out the side in a hitless

first inning but required 35 pitches to get through it. Long plate

appearances made Sanchez labor and assured the

Giants’ bullpen would be active.

Manuel wasn’t hiding his strategy, saying before the game,

“We’ve got to make him throw the ball over the plate. He’s got a

real hard slider, and it’s a late-breaker. If you watch his games,

the hitters chase – especially when he gets ahead of them. They

chase his slider a lot, down and out of the strike zone. At times,

he can get wild. He’ll walk some guys, usually around four or five.

Maybe even more.”

In many ways, that was the old Sanchez. On Sunday, he walked

three. To his credit, he rebounded from a sloppy start and lasted

into the seventh – one batter too long, it turned out. Through six,

Sanchez had surrendered two runs one earned and four hits. Manager

Bruce Bochy let him start the seventh, and Oswalt – of all people –

singled on Sanchez’s 100th pitch.

Bochy immediately summoned the bullpen, but the four-run rally

was underway. Four pitchers threw in the inning, which was

highlighted by Jimmy Rollins’ three-run double off Santiago

Casilla.

Maybe it would have been a better ending for Sanchez if the

Phillies were more free-swinging like the Braves, but several

Philly hitters said the goal was to not do Sanchez any favors.

“You make him throw strikes, and when he throws ’em, hit ’em,”

Placido Polanco said. “When he threw that slider, we tried to lay

off it.”

Howard had struggled against Sanchez 3-for-14 with seven

strikeouts but walked, doubled and singled Sunday. “It was about

being patient,” Howard said. “He has a tendency to get wild, and

you try to make him throw strikes.”

Speaking of strikes: The Phillies thought

center fielder Andres Torres made a good enough throw to nail

Oswalt – who ran through third-base coach Sam Perlozzo’s stop sign

– on Polanco’s single during the seventh-inning rally. First

baseman Aubrey Huff cut it off, and Oswalt scored easily.

“I actually thought the ball was going to go through,” Perlozzo

said. “It looked like he was out by a lot, I thought.”

Howard added, “I was in a pure and utter panic. Luckily, I

looked up and saw Huff cut it off. He’d have been out. He’d have

been way out.”

The Phillies breathed easier after tying the series 1-1 and were

eager to head to San Francisco for Tuesday’s Game 3.

Rollins coming home: Rollins, who has Oakland

roots and a degree from Alameda’s Encinal High, would have been

more pleased about playing the A’s in the World Series, but an NLCS

date with the

Giants is OK, too.

“That’s going to be fun,” Rollins said. “I’ve got quite a ticket

list, and I love playing in front of my family and friends, also

the fans. They’re on the fence. Do they boo me, do they get on me,

do they cheer me? It makes the game fun. It’s what you live for. If

they don’t boo you, you’re probably not a good player.”

Bonds fan: Howard is looking forward to

chatting with Barry Bonds, who has tutored Howard in the past.

Bonds is expected to be part of a pregame ceremony acknowledging

the

Giants’ NLCS team from 2002.

“It’ll be fun. He’ll talk some trash,” Howard said.