Paul Hagen: This time Phillies will let Oswalt’s decision slide

GIANTS MANAGER Bruce Bochy didn’t think there was a chance that

Phillies pitcher Roy Oswalt was

going to be able to score from second. Then again, he didn’t think

Oswalt was even going to try after Placido Polanco singled to

center in the bottom of the seventh.

With just one out and a potential to have runners on first and

third, leading by a single run, third-base coach Sam Perlozzo put

up the stop sign.

Except that Oswalt ran through it. And Giants first baseman

Aubrey Huff, who had seen Perlozzo throw his hands up, cut off the

throw from center.

“No question we had him dead. He was out by 10, 15 feet,” Bochy

observed.

Instead Oswalt scored easily, triggering what turned into a

four-run outburst as the

Phillies evened their best-of-seven

NLCS against San Francisco at a game apiece with a 6-1 win last

night at The Bank.

“I probably can’t say exactly what the [dugout] reaction was,”

said rightfielder Jayson Werth with a grin. “Something like, ‘Oh,

no. Oh, yes,’ with some other adjectives and verbs thrown in

there.”

Oswalt said he was thinking about coming home immediately.

“I read it pretty well coming off the bat,” he said. “I didn’t

look at the centerfielder to see how close he was. But as soon as

[Polanco] hit it, I knew it was over the infield. When I got

halfway, I saw the stop sign. I said, ‘It’s too late now, no

turning back.’ “

Perlozzo spoke in measured tones about the play. “I was really

happy he was safe,” he said. “It was a situation where, if he had

been out, that could have been it [for the inning]. I certainly

thought the ball was going through.”

Manager Charlie Manuel could only laugh. “What the hell are we

going to do, rope him?” he joked. “I ain’t that good. I’m not a

cowboy. I might look like one, talk like one, but I’m not one.”

Said Werth: “That was a game-changer, it really was. It was

probably the defining point of the game.”

Oswalt, using a bat he borrowed from Jimmy Rollins, had singled

to lead off the inning. The

Phillies had the third fewest

sacrifice bunts (44) in the National League this season. But Manuel

had Shane Victorino bunt him over. Chase Utley was walked

intentionally, setting the stage for the turning point.

E-A-G-L-E-SSome

Phillies fans probably weren’t too

happy to see Ryan Howard on the sideline of the Eagles’ win over

the Falcons at Lincoln Financial Field yesterday afternoon,

especially after he struck out three times in the NLCS Game 1 loss

to San Francisco on Saturday night.

Seriously, though, staring at video of Giants’ Game 2 starter

Jonathan Sanchez all afternoon probably would have done more harm

than good. Baseball is a game of relaxation and reaction.

At the same time, he put himself out there. Silly as it might

have been, if he had had a bad game, that decision surely could

have become a flashpoint for an artificial controversy.

Instead, he worked a crucial walk off Sanchez in the first

inning last night, helping to lead to an unearned run. Then he

doubled his next time up. Then he singled in the fifth.

And the

Phillies won, 6-1, so the whole

thing became a non-issue.

The quoteJayson Werth on tying the NLCS at a game apiece going

into Game 3 at San Francisco tomorrow: “Whatever it takes. We want

to get it done. This is definitely a war and we’re in it to win

it.”

What goes aroundBaseball is a small world. Well-intentioned

advice can echo in unexpected ways. Just ask Charlie Manuel and Roy

Oswalt.

When the Giants visited Citizens Bank Park in August, he was

asked by the

San Francisco Chronicle about Cy Young Award

winner Tim Lincecum’s disappointing season. After all, both are

smallish righthanders.

Oswalt said conditioning was the key. “If you’re not in the top

shape you can be, your body’s going to break down, especially if

you’re smaller in size,” he noted. “You have to do twice the work a

bigger guy’s going to do.”

To be fair, Lincecum had been getting the same advice from a

variety of sources, including his father and Giants manager Bruce

Bochy. But it was also right about then that he turned his season

around. If he hadn’t, it’s doubtful San Francisco would have even

made the postseason. And The Freak wouldn’t have had the chance to

outduel Roy Halladay in Game 1 on Saturday.

Manuel, meanwhile, worked tirelessly with Pat Burrell before the

leftfielder left as a free agent. So the

Phillies manager had to have mixed

emotions at best about watching him get a single, a double and an

RBI in the Giants’ 4-3 win in the opener.

Age-old questionThere has been quite a bit of discussion

recently about how long the

Phillies’ window of opportunity

will remain open. For what it’s worth, according to

baseball-reference.com, the average age of

Phillies hitters is 31.8 years, the

average for the pitchers 31.1. Both figures are the oldest in the

league.

Et ceteraThe

Phillies have lost the first game

of a postseason series six times before this NLCS (1950 World

Series, 1976 NLCS, 1978 NLCS, 1981 NLDS, 1993 World Series, 2007

NLDS) and have never come back to win that series. In fact, before

last night’s win, they have come back to win Game 2 and tie the

series just once, against Toronto in 1993 . . . Game 3 at AT&T

Park tomorrow is an afternoon game. Cole Hamels had a 3.34 ERA in

the daytime this season (2.97 at night) and 4.27 career (3.20 under

the lights).

Send e-mail to hagenp@phillynews.com