Time: 4:19 p.m. ET
TV Announcers: Joe Buck and Tim McCarver
Radio: ESPN Radio
Radio Announcers: Dan Shulman and Dave Campbell
Umpires: Derryl Cousins, Tom Hallion, Wally Bell, Ted Barrett,, Dan Iassonga
MLB.com Gameday: Link
The Giants were able to get off to a promising series start by defeating Roy Halladay by the narrowest of margins in Game 1. However, the Phillies haven't been billed as a team with one ace; they've been billed as a team with three aces, and the second of them stepped up in a big way in Game 2. Roy Oswalt cruised through the Giants lineup for eight innings, and the Phillies scored more than enough runs to force a series tie. Now the scene shifts to San Francisco for three in a row, where the rotation depth will be tested a little bit. Each team wants to win at least two of these games, but only one of them can do it.
(1) There isn't much you can ask a team to do against Cole Hamels. You can't stack the lineup with righties, because his changeup is one of the best pitches in baseball, all but negating his platoon splits. He's good enough at battling back in the count that getting ahead 1-0 isn't much of an advantage. He doesn't have any one, glaring, particular weakness. If Hamels were a video game boss, he wouldn't have a glowing orange target anywhere on his body. That said, there is one thing worth noting: the Giants hit changeups this year better than they hit any other pitch. So as specialties go, Hamels' change isn't as daunting as it might be to another opponent. One can expect the Giants to get some good swings.
(2) The Phillies, of course, have three powerful left-handed bats in Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, and Raul Ibanez, and Matt Cain likes to challenge left-handed hitters with high, inside fastballs. One can see how that could be a problem against strong lefties with quick bat speed. Cain's always been more in his element at home, as the park is conducive to his pitching style, but it'll be interesting to see if, confronted with such lefty pop, he tries to stay away from the fastball and tries spotting his change on the low-away corner instead. Howard can hit the ball out anywhere. He's similar to Adrian Gonzalez in that regard. But neither Ibanez nor Utley really have much opposite field power to speak of, so Cain could try to stay away.
(3) For the first time in the postseason, the Phillies are going to play a game in a pitcher-friendly ballpark. The ball tends to fly out of Philadelphia and Cincinnati, and the pitchers and hitters know it. San Francisco's a little more forgiving. Worth noting is that it's especially tough on left-handed bats, reducing home runs by about 18 percent relative to the league average. For the sake of comparison, Philadelphia inflates left-handed home runs by about 16 percent. The run environment is going to be lower, and every pitch and decision will take on a greater significance. In a way, this plays to both teams' strengths, but the Phillies aren't quite so used to it.