I told you, I got this!
Has the momentum shifted to the Cardinals, who return home with Jaime Garcia on the hill for Game 3 on Tuesday? It would appear so… at least on paper.
Of all the Cardinals' starters, Jaime Garcia has the best career numbers against the Phillies – 30 IP, 1.20 ERA, 4 ER, 20 H, 9 BB, 21 K, 1 HR allowed in four starts and two relief appearances (both in 2008). If you created a pitcher from scratch who would give the Phillies trouble, he'd be a lot like Garcia. He's a lefty and doesn't throw overly hard. Instead, he has repertoire of breaking pitches. It's a deadly combination (lefty-junkballer) that seems to work well against the Phillies. Consequently, against everyone else Garcia is a decent starting pitcher, but against the Phillies he's an all-star.
Here are the Phillies' career numbers against Garcia:
Rollins .090 (1-11)
Utley .000 (0-6, BB, HBP)
Pence .214 (3-14, 2B, 3B, HR)
Howard .230 (3-13, HR, 6K)
Victorino .200 (2-10, BB)
Mayberry .571 (4-7, 2B)
Ibanez .333 (1-3, K)
Polanco .181 (2-11, 2B, BB)
Ruiz .000 (0-3, 4BB)
Add it up and those players are hitting a combined .200 with 2 HR lifetime vs. Garcia.
The Phillies will need to show more patience and perhaps work some walks. And then hopefully bunch those walks with some hits, like they did early in Game 2. I also would expect Mayberry to start in LF since his numbers are a tad better than Ibanez's vs Garcia. So, um, panicked yet?
Well, climb back off the ledge. Garcia has yet to face the Phillies current starting eight in a lineup at the same time, so there's that. He's also never started a playoff game, so there's that, too. If postseason experience for starting pitchers means anything, the Phils should have an edge there.
Hamels has impressive numbers vs the Cardinals, as Theriot and Berkman are the only hitters in the lineup with good career numbers against him in 10 or more ABs. He has been tagged with some extra base hits and HRs, though. In what figures to be a close, low-scoring game with few base-runners, the long ball is a concern. But overall, Cole has done a nice job vs. the Cards: (in 9 starts) 2-3, 3.27 ERA, 55 IP, 20 ER, 45 H, 10 BB, 56 K, 6 HRs allowed.
And here are the Cardinals' career number vs. Hamels:
Furcal .152 (4-23, 2B, 3K, includes postseason)
Craig .333 (2-6, 2B, HR)
Pujols .181 (4-22, 2B, 2 HR)
Berkman .333 (7-21, 4BB, HBP)
Freese .285 (2-7, 2B, 2K)
Molina .222 (4-18, 2B, 2B, BB, 3K)
Theriot .333 (7-21, 2B, 2B, HR, BB, 4K)
Jay .333 (1-3, 2K)
Holliday .200 (2-10, 3K, includes postseason) – if he plays
Not including Holliday, who is unlikely to start, that amounts to .256 with 4HRs – better than what the Phils have done vs. Garcia, but still nothing to brag about.
The Phillies have really made things tough on themselves after losing Game 2. And once again, it will be Hamels they rely on to win a near must-win game. But something tells me if this is truly going to be a championship season, Cole will rise to the occasion.
First pitch is at 5:07.
[Jim McCormick has some scouting and - gasp - advanced metrics on Garcia over at Philly Sports Daily]