Heading into this series the quick overview in my head had me thinking the Phillies edge really came down to a better offense. The Phillies finished the season ranked 7th in runs scored, while the Giants were 17th. However, some quick arithmetic reveals that difference in ranking to be due to .46 runs per game. On the surface that doesn’t seem like a lot, but when you’re talking about the kind of pitching these two teams will be throwing out, a half run per game would be monstrous (that is assuming teams could score half a run in a game).
Grant from MC asked The Good Phight about a variety of issues, but the one that could prove most pertinent to a Giants series victory is #2, about the Phillies offensive slump over the summer:
2. What was up with that weird stretch this summer in which the Phillies weren’t scoring runs? Could you do that again?
The Phillies saw what can happen when you lock up a quickly aging core to long-term contracts. The players get dinged up and miss time, and since you’re paying them so much in their decline phases for what they did in their arbitration-year peaks, you wind up running the likes of Wilson Valdez, Brian Schneider, and Cody Ransom out onto the field to soak up tons of important at-bats.
I really don’t have any other explanation for “Slumpmas” as we began to call that awful stretch. They fired (read: sacrificed to BaseBa’al) hitting coach Milt Thompson, and the team seemed to improve under Greg Gross, but honestly, I don’t think that had much to do with anything.
I give tons of credit to Ruben Amaro, Jr., for realizing that the offense was either going to improve or it wasn’t, and he couldn’t really fiddle with it at the trading deadline due to financial commitments. So he went and got Roy Oswalt instead. And it panned out!
I honestly wouldn’t be shocked to see another set of 1-run games all series long like the Giants dealt with against the Braves. The obvious key will be getting continued strong performances from the starting rotation.