Series Preview: Phillie Phun
Here were are with yet another one of those “most important series of the year” sort of scenarios. But the Giants don’t need to win to prove anything to anyone right now. They need to win so that they don’t end the weekend in second place looking up at Arizona. And while the Giants were reveling in the dawn of the Age of Beltran, the Phillies added Hunter Pence to solidify the middle of their order. That and their pitching is still pretty damn good. So there’s that too.
Once again (and much to the chagrin of Cody Ross), the Giants managed to dodge Roy Halladay. The downside is that the Giants still get everyone else. That means the we end up facing the good (Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels), the old (Roy Oswalt), and the Worley (Vance). There are lots of subplots to break down here, so let’s get into it. First we have Lee, facing the Giants for the first time since the World Series. While we no longer have Edgar Renteria for late-inning heroics, we do have his fellow countryman and sworn enemy Orlando Cabrera, so I guess that counts for something.
Next we have Jonathan Sanchez returning from the DL. The last time Sanchez faced the Phillies he cleared the benches after drilling Chase Utley in the back, so it’s safe to say that there’ll probably be some stank eye thrown around if anything gets thrown a little too far inside. And finally we have Charlie Manuel and his whiney-pants. After Bruce Bochy had both Halladay and Lee go multiple innings in the All-Star game, Manuel threw on his whiney little whiney-pants and whined about Bochy intentionally tiring out his pitchers. These are the same pitchers who consistently throw 200+ innings a year without injury, which adds to my theory that Manuel’s whiney-pants must have been extra whiney that day. All whiney-pants aside, it should be a good series.
With all these subplots, these Giants/Phillies match-ups are beginning to feel more and more like an actual rivalry. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not quite approaching Giants/Dodgers territory, but in a year where the Dodgers are bankrupt and 10+ games out first place, there exists a competitive vacuum of sorts. The DBacks, while young, talented, and albeit a scary team lurking in second place, don’t feel like rivals. But ever since the NLCS last year, every time we play the Phillies it feels like more is at stake than just wins and losses. It’s entirely possible that I’m constructing a made-up narrative in my head here, but it’s one that I’m sticking too until these two teams get bored of each other.
This series could take you, the ordinary Giants fan, in any number of directions emotionally, as the gamut will run from soul-crushingly depressing to exuberantly joyful. Cliff Lee, while soundly beaten twice in the postseason, is still a pitcher with an arm that can throw baseballs, automatically making him a threat to the Giants offense. The same goes for Hamels, Oswalt, and Worley, but to a lesser degree because I said so. Oh and Hunter Pence is going to be around too, so watch out for that. Expect the worst, hope for the best, and prepare for a whole lot of yelling at your TV.