For the Philadelphia Phillies, playing at San Francisco’s AT&T Park is like making Superman wear a kryptonite cape– it’s just not going to turn out well. In Game 3 of the 2010 National League Championship Series, the Giants smothered the Phillies in home field advantage, shutting them out 3-0 and taking the lead in the 2010 NLCS two games to one.
Giants starter Matt Cain may have taken his own giant step into the ranks of current MLB world class pitchers, as he went seven innings giving up 2 hits and 3 walks while striking out 5. Cain had the Philadelphia offense off-balance all afternoon as he mixed well placed fastballs and off-speed pitches all over the strike zone, handcuffing one of baseball’s most powerful line-ups. Giants side-winding left-hander Javier Lopez required only nine pitches to dispose of the Phillies in the 8th inning, and closer Brian Wilson slammed the door tight to complete the team shutout in the 9th.
The Giants’ shining gem of a ballpark was a deadly 26th player in this game, and has been the garlic around the necks of the Phillies for years. In the past three years the National League’s top run-producing machine batted an embarrassing .199 at AT&T Park, with a .313 slugging %, scoring 32 runs in 10 games– a paltry 3.2 runs per game average. To give some perspective on just how bad San Francisco’s home park is for the Phils, during that same three year period against all other teams on the road Philadelphia sluggers plated an average of 4.84 runs per game.
And here’s the really bad news. The Phillies play two more games at AT&T Park, one of which will be against Giants’ top rookie pitcher Madison Bumgarger, who the Phillies have never seen before, and the other against a long-haired gentleman named Tim Lincecum.
Game 3 provided yet another offensive encore for the amazing Cody Ross, who has been a cold drink dispenser in San Francisco’s offensive desert throughout the 2010 post season. Giants’ shortstop Edgar Renteria singled in the 4th inning for the Giants’ first hit and was sacrificed to second by second baseman Freddie Sanchez. With two outs, left fielder Pat Burrell had a gutsy at bat, coaxing a walk after getting two strikes from Philadelphia starter Cole Hamels. Cody Ross followed with an RBI single and the Giants were on the board; Aubrey Huff followed with his own run scoring, seeing-eye ground ball just past Phils’ second baseman Chase Utley.
In the 5th inning, an Aaron Rowand lead-off double was made good when Freddie Sanchez hit another two out single to score the Giants’ third run. So while the big Philadelphia boppers foundered against the perfect storm of Matt Cain’s pitching, all three Giant runs came on two out singles.
And that’s the lesson of AT&T Park. As I noted in my pre-NLCS blog notes, the Giants’ home park can have the effect of bringing down a big run-scoring offense and making them whimper in the corner, while the Giants’ hitting machine does its usual slapping, scrapping, and punching out hits and runs here and there.
Which makes it all about pitching, which is what the 2010 Giants are all about.