File photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The Giants try to clinch the pennant at Citizens Bank Park; the Phillies try to force Game 7.
Just as was the case in the ALCS last night, tonight's game features a rematch of Game 2, with Roy Oswalt facing Jonathan Sanchez. Oswalt pitched brilliantly in the first meeting and got the best of his young counterpart, so that might give reason to believe the Phillies have the upper hand in this one. But Oswalt, remember, came back to pitch the ninth inning in Game 4 and wound up taking the loss. Thus, the Giants have some level of confidence facing him again three days later.
Then again, Philly has to feel plenty confident about its chances playing at home, having gone 15-4 at Citizens Bank Park the last three postseasons. And until someone puts the final dagger through their hearts, they're still the two-time defending NL champs.
I'm out of town this weekend and won't have access to my computer leading up to gametime, so I'm posting this early, sans lineups. Hoping to watch a good portion of the game, though, but as always I'll count on you guys to keep the conversation going in my absence...
NATIONAL LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES — GAME 6
SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS at PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES
Where: Citizens Bank Park
Gametime: 7:57 p.m.
Where: Citizens Bank Park
Gametime: 7:57 p.m.
TV: Fox Radio: WTNT-570 AM
Weather: Partly cloudy, 57 degrees
GIANTS9:02 p.m. -- Just got back to the hotel and turned this one on finally ... just in time to see Chase Utley get hit with a pitch in the back and wind up with the ball, which he then flipped back to Jonathan Sanchez. The two started exchanging words, and all of a sudden both benches emptied. No punches were thrown and nothing really happened, though the Giants are taking Sanchez out of the game, and probably for good reason. He was already all over the place, and now his head can't be in the right place. It's only the third inning of a 2-2 game, and already this is turning into a wild one.
CF Andres Torres
2B Freddy Sanchez
1B Aubrey Huff
C Buster Posey
LF Pat Burrell
RF Cody Ross
3B Juan Uribe
SS Edgar Renteria
P Jonathan Sanchez
SS Jimmy Rollins
3B Placido Polanco
2B Chase Utley
1B Ryan Howard
RF Jayson Werth
CF Shane Victorino
LF Raul Ibanez
C Carlos Ruiz
P Roy Oswalt
9:05 p.m. -- Oh, and a big thank you to Sec3MySofa for providing updates in my absence. I may have to put you on the payroll as my official backup when I need a night off!
9:33 p.m. -- So who would have guessed Jeremy Affeldt would record as many outs tonight (six) as Jonathan Sanchez? And more amazingly, that the score would only be 2-2 at the end of all that? Nice job by the lefty long man for San Francisco. They're now in the top of the fifth, game still tied.
9:47 p.m. -- Roy Oswalt may not be in absolute top form tonight -- he's allowed eight hits through five -- but he's coming through when he really needs to. Just struck out Buster Posey with two on and two out in the top of the fifth after Posey had fouled off several two-strike pitches. Oswalt's a bulldog, and he's showing it tonight.
9:58 p.m. -- The Giants are pulling out all the stops tonight, which is kind of necessary since their starter didn't even make it out of the third inning. So Game 4 starter Madison Bumgarner just pitched the bottom of the fifth, and though he nearly gave the Phillies the lead, he managed to escape the jam by intentionally walking Jayson Werth and then getting Shane Victorino to tap a comebacker for the third. Long way to go in this one, and Bruce Bochy is going to need several more relievers to get through it. Still 2-2 as they go to the sixth.
10:24 p.m. -- Bumgarner pitches out of another jam in the sixth. Despite a leadoff double, the rookie left-hander came up huge by striking out Ben Francisco on a beautiful curveball, then got Jimmy Rollins to fly out. They head to the seventh, still 2-2, with Oswalt now out of the game in favor of Ryan Madson. Something's got to give eventually.
10:49 p.m. -- Opportunities have been abundant for both teams all night. Runs have not. Pitchers keep coming up big, as Madson did in the top of the seventh stranding two men on. Javier Lopez was his usual self in the bottom of the inning, retiring Utley and Howard yet again and sending this game to the eighth still tied.
10:55 p.m. -- No worries about coming through with men on base when you can just hit one out of the park. Juan Uribe comes through with the opposite-field solo blast off Madson, putting the Giants up 3-2 and putting them six outs from the World Series. And get this: Tim Lincecum is warming in the San Francisco bullpen. Wow.
11:11 p.m. -- Well that was quite an epic bottom of the eighth. After Lincecum entered for only the second relief appearance of his career and allowed two hits, Brian Wilson entered to face Carlos Ruiz with two on and one out. And managed to get Ruiz to line into a 3-6, inning-ending double play. Huge moment, and now the Giants are three outs from the World Series. I have to say I wasn't really liking Bochy's move to use Lincecum there. Just don't like putting a guy into a situation he's never been in, especially when you've got a bullpen full of relievers who have been in that spot before. Things worked out, but had Lincecum blown it, Bochy would have had a LOT of questions to answer.
11:22 p.m. -- Here we go: Bottom of the ninth, Giants leading 3-2, Wilson on the mound, the pitcher's spot, Rollins and Polanco due up for the Phillies. If anyone gets on, it'll be Utley and then Howard. This is postseason drama at it's very best.
11:39 p.m. -- The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant! (Sorry, I couldn't resist that one.) What a ballgame. What a finish. Up one run, two outs, two on, 3-2 count with Ryan Howard at the plate, the runners on the move and Brian Wilson struck him out with a 90 mph slider at the knees. Fantastic stuff. The 106th World Series begins Wednesday night at AT&T Park, with Tim Lincecum and the Giants slated to face Cliff Lee and the Rangers. Can't wait.