Tim Kawakami: Fear the beard, or fear the Phillies?


Giants awakened the dragon?

That was the feeling in the air here Sunday, as the mighty

Philadelphia Phillies bellowed, beat their chests and knocked

around the

Giants in Game 2 of the National

League Championship Series.

Just one game, of course. The Phillies’ high-decibel 6-1 victory

at Citizens Bank Park only tied the series, which now moves to San

Francisco for the next three games.

Just one game, which the Phillies needed much more desperately

than the

Giants did.

But from the moment in the seventh inning when slumping

Philadelphia shortstop Jimmy Rollins ripped a laser-shot double off

the right-field wall — it drove in three runs and put away the

Giants — this game felt larger.

The Phillies’ bats, after much frustration in the early part of

the playoffs, are awake and thundering now.

Which probably changes almost everything.

“We played them pretty good,” said Jonathan Sanchez, the

Giants’ starting pitcher who battled

through early trouble to keep the game close. “They’ve got to play

a big game to beat us.”

But that’s exactly what Philadelphia did Sunday. They played

big. They raised themselves up, and, probably as a consequence,

forced the

Giants into some uncharacteristic

and punishing errors.

Yes, the Phillies made the

Giants look a bit small. Now the

Giants go home and hope they either

get larger themselves, or that the Phillies shrink back again.

“You’ve got to play your best ball to beat this team,”

Giants manager Bruce Bochy said,

“and we were a little off tonight.”

The Phillies got a big eight-inning performance out of starter

Roy Oswalt, a huge swing of the bat from Rollins, and patient,

powerful at-bats from most of their array of stars.

They went large. That’s what the Phillies can do. And it’s

precisely what the scrappy-go-lucky

Giants cannot duplicate.

“They have a great offense,”

Giants first baseman Aubrey Huff

said. “But they capitalized in big situations. They got the big hit

with the bases loaded.

“We just haven’t put enough pressure offensively on them.”

If the Phillies start hitting, however, there are not many teams

that can go blast for blast with them.

That is, unless Cody Ross, who Sunday hit his fourth home run in


Giants’ last three playoff games,

is prepared to hit five or six more the rest of this series.

“It’s all right,” catcher Buster Posey said. “Obviously, you

want to win every game. I don’t think anybody’s satisfied with just

going 1-1. But we’ll keep grinding and grinding.”

Otherwise, Rollins, the Oakland native, Ryan Howard (three hits,

including a rousing double in Game 2), Chase Utley and Jayson Werth

and the others have the proven capabilities to take over this


After this game was over, the Phillies didn’t seem overjoyed —

they just seemed relieved.

The Phillies came into this game hitting only .212 in the

postseason after a lackluster offensive performance in the NLDS

sweep of Cincinnati and a relatively stifled outing against Tim

Lincecum in Game 1.

But the Phillies are the team that has gone to back-to-back

World Series, and they probably were going to come alive at some

point offensively.

“Nobody expected us to be here,” Huff said. “We came here, in a

hostile environment, and they’ve got a great pitching staff and

we’ve got the same. So we’re 1-1 and going home. We can’t ask for

much more than that.”

There is now a solid chance that the Phillies — after their

brief lull and 1-0 deficit against the

Giants — have kicked it back to

their usual high level.

Individually, Rollins was two-for-16 in the playoffs before his

seventh-inning at-bat and was the focus of intense debate and


Then came the seventh, when Bochy ordered an intentional walk of

Werth to load the bases, to set up reliever Santiago Casilla

against Rollins.

After Rollins got to second base, he shouted and pumped his


“It was something that was needed at the time,” Rollins said of

his double, which pushed the Phillies lead from 3-1 to 6-1. “I was

glad I was the person up there at the moment and able to come


“But you don’t celebrate until you win four games. And once we

get to that point, then you can look back and say that was a big

hit. But for now, it just gave us a little breathing room.”

They can take up a lot of room, these Phillies. They can put

pressure on every facet of the game, and the

Giants responded with several

physical and mental errors, including two by third baseman Mike


The Phillies, when they’re THE PHILLIES, can do that to anybody.

It happened to the

Giants in Game 2, and, maybe, the

rest of this series, if the

Giants let it.

Read Tim Kawakami’s Talking Points blog at

blogs.mercurynews.com/kawakami . Contact him at

tkawakami@mercurynews.com or 408-920-5442.