It’s entirely possible that Thursday’s Game 1 of the NLCS between the Phils and Dodgers will be a microcosm of the series as a whole: two good lineups trying to outscore each other before the other team’s starter leaves the mound, and piecing together runs off the bullpens whenever they can afterward.
As we all age 40 years in the process.
Anyway, in watching every hair-tearing, unmentionable-swearing, Jesus-praying moment of that game, I managed to extract three positives, three negatives, and three “tweeners,” or aspects that fit somewhere in the middle.
- Raul Ibanez: The man looked good. Every AB from him tonight went well. The home run off Sherrill was, undoubtedly, colossal. The man’s looking good in his first postseason.
- Carlos Ruiz: Boy, I’d love to have Choochtober every month of the year, but that’d just be greedy. Good, patient at-bats. The homer was off a pitch outside the strike zone, but who can fault a guy for a three-run dinger?
- Brad Lidge: It wasn’t pretty the whole way. But, well, most of his saves in 2008 weren’t perfect either. It’s encouraging to see the guy get more outs than baserunners allowed, for starters, and anytime Lidge induces a double play ball is cause for celebration. I’m growing more encouraged by the day, and I hope Brad keeps it up.
- Ryan Madson: I have no excuses for Ryan tonight. He was not sharp. He was a bit erratic. I’m glad he was able to come back and retire Manny to end the eighth, but surrendering four hits and two runs just like that is not good. He needs to shape up and fast.
- Joe Torre: This one works in our favor. He burns Orlando Hudson terribly early, and then doesn’t bother to insert him in the field when, clearly he is a superior defender at 2B with a better bat than Ronnie Belliard, no matter what Torre says.
- Bad swings: It’s something of a by-product of Kershaw’s stuff, but the first four innings were an exercise in bad strike zone judgment. Too many cuts at pitches at the eyes.
- Cole Hamels: Some very good pitches. Some very bad pitches. Letting his body language take over after the botched double play. The pitch on Loney’s homer was awful, but the one to Manny wasn’t quite as bad. Only one walk. I don’t know, I’d grade this outing as incomplete, though we sure could’ve used a better outing.
- Chan Ho Park: He looked great in his first inning in about a month. I’ll be curious to see how durable he is, though, and his availability tomorrow could be critical with Pedro on the mound.
- Eric Bruntlett: I still don’t understand why he’s on the roster for this series when we’re clearly set with positional backups. Miguel Cairo and Ben Francisco were, as expected, used before him off the bench. He did not get put in the field. His presence on the roster shortens the Philly staff to 11 arms, and bullpen usage is already looking more critical than ever. We’ll see if he serves a useful purpose.