The Giants and the American League pennant winning Texas Rangers will meet in the first Series game on Wednesday October 27th in San Francisco.
True to their winning formula of supersized pitching and just enough offense, the Giants overcame an early knockout of starter Jonathan Sanchez, who gave up two 1st inning runs and had problems controlling his pitches and his temper. After the Giants tied the game 2-2 in the top of the 3rd, Sanchez started the bottom of the inning with a walk to Phils third baseman Placido Polanco, then proceeded to hit Chase Utley in the back. Utley grabbed at the ball as he jogged to first base and tossed it in Sanchez's direction. After words were exchanged, both benches cleared before order was restored and the game continued.
Giants Manager Bruce Bochy restored further order by pulling Sanchez, who had thrown fifty pitches in two+ innings, and going to his bullpen. Other than missing the team plane, this is probably a manager's ultimate playoff nightmare; but left-handers Jeremy Affeldt (2 innings), Game 4 starter Madison Bumgarner (2 innings), and winning pitcher Javier Lopez (1 inning) came into the game and gave up no runs, 3 hits, and 1 walk while striking out 4 Phillies.
In contrast to Bochy's use of an array of the available pitching tools on his belt throughout the series, Phillies' Manager Charlie Manuel badly overused ace reliever Ryan Madson, who pitched in four of the first five games. And though Madson had not pitched two full innings in any game all year, Manuel allowed his favorite reliever to go two innings in Game 6, giving up the go-ahead home run to Juan Uribe and taking the loss.
After Uribe's blast pushed the Giants ahead 3-2 in the top of the 8th, Thursday's Game 5 starter Tim Lincecum gamely started the bottom of the inning in a valiant effort to get to closer Brian Wilson. Lincecum struck out slugging right fielder Jayson Werth, but the next two batters singled, causing Bochy to thank Lincecum and task Wilson with a five out save and two inherited runners. The next batter, Phillies' catcher Carlos Ruiz, graciously solved a number of immediate issues by lining into an inning ending double play.
In the bottom of the 9th inning, Brian Wilson mixed two outs with two walks before facing Philadelphia cleanup hitter Ryan Howard with two runners on. After getting two strikes on the big slugger, Wilson abandoned a series of 97 MPH fastballs to strike Howard out looking on a nasty cut fastball that cruised in low across the outside edge of the plate.
And the final totals? There are two of particular note here: first, Giants right fielder Cody Ross was named 2010 NLCS MVP after hitting .350 with 6 extra base hits (3 of them home runs), his .950 slugging percentage making NLCS history as the highest ever in a six game series.
Second, a telling insight into not only the NLCS, but the Giants' entire 2010 season: in six NLCS games, the Giants scored a total of 19 runs; the Phillies scored 20 runs. It's a pitching-centric formula that wins games, but often compels Giant fans to double their medication and borrow the ignition keys to any available heavy machinery.