On Saturday, October 23rd, the National League Championship Series came to a close, with the San Francisco Giants beating the Philadelphia Phillies, 4-2. The series began in Philadelphia, with the much anticipated pitching matchup of Roy Halladay (Phila) and Tim Lincecum (SF). Earlier in the post-season, Halladay pitched only the second no-hitter in MLB post-season history, and previously in the season had pitched a perfect game–just the 20th in MLB history. With Lincecum’s big arm, the expectations for game 1 were high. San Francisco came out on top, leading the series, which stayed in Philadelphia. Roy Oswalt helped tie the series up in the second NLCS game, with a 6-1 victory for Philadelphia. The series then moved west, to the AT&T Park in San Francisco, where the Giants took advantage of being back on their home turf. The Giants took command of the series, taking the next two games to lead the series 3-1. Game 5 was also played in San Francisco, under rainy conditions. The Phillies prevailed, spoiling the Giants’ hopes of winning at home, sending the series back to Philadelphia, where it would be decided. Down 3-2 in the series, Philadelphia hoped the home-town fans would spur them to a 7th and deciding game in the series. Sadly for Philadelphia fans, the sixth game saw the Phillies lose a heartbreaker in front of a home crowd, 3-2. With the game six win over Philadelphia, the San Francisco Giants captured the National League Championship and move into the World Series.
The Phillies had many opportunities to take a lead in the NLCS, but were continually denied by the impressive Giants team. Difficulties at bat and from the bull pen kept the Phillies from returning to the World Series. The Phillies’ offense was less than impressive in the post-season, with only Jayson Werth showing his true talent. Philadelphia didn’t capitalize on their opportunities and stranded too many men, which ultimately cost them the series. While it was a disappointing end to the Phillies’ season, the team should have continued strong hopes for the upcoming season.
A big part of the Giants’ success in this year’s NLCS was due to great pitching and strong hitting. Cody Ross had a commanding presence early in the series, helping win two of the games for the Giants. He scored two runs in the first game against Philadelphia, and went on to score single runs in both games two and four. Ross was ultimately named the NLCS MVP after his performance in the series against the Phillies, and poses a threat in the World Series.
Rookie Buster Posey was also impressive, hitting and catching well throughout the NLCS. Posey was called up to the major leagues earlier this season and proved to be valuable to the Giants in the big moments. Posey made a clutch catch in game 4, which prevented Carlos Ruiz from scoring and giving Philadelphia the lead. Posey was also strong at bat, repeatedly getting on base and giving his team plenty of opportunities to score runs.
Juan Uribe also did a great deal of damage, hitting a sacrifice fly in the third game, to give the Giants a winning run in the bottom of the 9th inning. He also scored with a late homerun in game 6 in Philadelphia, giving the Giants a 3-2 advantage, which would ultimately cost the Phillies the game.
The Giants will face the surprising ALCS champions, the Texas Rangers, on Wednesday, October 30th in San Francisco. The Rangers defeated last year’s World Series’ champions, the New York Yankees, 4-2, to take them to the franchise’s first ever World Series.