Time: 7:57pm ET
Starting Pitchers: LHP Jonathan Sanchez vs. RHP Roy Oswalt
Series: 3-2 San Francisco
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
Headed into Game 6, both teams have reason to be happy, and reason to be disappointed. If you're the Giants, you're happy that you're up 3-2 in the series. You only have to win one game of two. But you're disappointed, because you just lost a Game 5 at home with your ace starter on the mound and Roy Halladay at a level or two below his best. There was an opportunity there, and they blew it. Meanwhile, if you're the Phillies, you're happy because you get to bring the series back home. With their backs against the wall, they came out and kept the Giants quiet in front of a crowd ready to blow up. But you're disappointed because the odds still aren't in your favor. You have to win out, against two very tough starters. This series is definitely a lot more interesting than it was two days ago.
(1) Jonathan Sanchez was reasonably effective in his Game 2 start, allowing eight baserunners and three runs in 6+ innings. His biggest trouble came in the bottom of the first, when he issued three walks, including one with the bases loaded. Now, at the same time, Sanchez's average fastball in the first inning was 91.8 miles per hour. It was 89.4mph in the second inning, 89.3mph in the third inning, and all the way down to 86.9mph in the sixth and seventh. One could be concerned by Sanchez slowing down as the game wore on, or one could see this as evidence that Sanchez was overthrowing in the first, amped up by too much adrenaline. After the first, Sanchez was money. If he's able to come out and pitch within himself, he could have a very successful start.
(2) The Giants took a very patient approach against Roy Oswalt in Game 2, swinging at just four of 30 first pitches. And, in a way, it worked out, as Oswalt threw just 16 first-pitch strikes and fell behind 1-0 14 times. That's 47% 1-0 counts, against 35% during the regular season for Oswalt. The problem is that the Giants couldn't then take advantage, going 2-12 in those at bats with two walks. Oswalt was able to battle back and the Giants couldn't get good swings despite favorite situations. Look for Oswalt to be more aggressive early in Game 6. Despite the success, he won't want to keep falling behind. It will then be on the Giants to adjust, else they'll fall behind too often. They'll get some confidence from having hit Oswalt in his Game 5 relief appearance, which was a much better inning than anything they put together in Game 2.
(3) The NLCS has a six-man umpiring crew, and five of them have worked behind the plate. The only one left? Tom Hallion, who will work behind the plate in Game 6. This could be good news for both Sanchez and Oswalt, as Hallion has been among the more pitcher-friendly umpires in baseball. Batters hit .243 this year with Hallion behind the plate, against a .257 league average. He has historically allowed a higher K/BB ratio than the average. And some analysis has shown that he is very generous with the left side of the strike zone (from the catcher's perspective) - especially with left-handed hitters. It'll be on the starters to figure out just how wide a zone they're working with, but Hallion's influence may help this end up a close, low-scoring game.