Not that we’re recommending letting the Cardinals out to a 3-0 lead in the first, but both the Phillies (in Game 1) and Cards (in Game 2) spotted their opponents a 3-0 first-inning lead and came back to win. Just because something has happened a couple times in the past doesn’t make it likely to happen in the future.
That’s the message tonight for the Phillies, who face 25-year-old lefty Jaime Garcia. Garcia, in case you haven’t heard, is 2-1 with a career 1.20 ERA in six appearances and 30 innings pitched against the Phillies. Don’t get me wrong–Garcia is an excellent pitcher whose 143 ERA+ in 163 innings last year would have gotten him some serious Rookie of the Year love in any season that didn’t involve Jason Heyward and Buster Posey. But for all the fear that Garcia’s induced over recent days, it’s not time to shut down the carnival and unpack your Flyers gear just yet: remember, it’s still only 30 innings.
Besides, Cole Hamels is on the mound tonight.
While the Cardinals are lucky to be tied and coming home, remember that the Phillies, with Roy Halladay slated to pitch a potential Game 5 at home, would be at a great advantage with a split in St. Louis. Remember, also, that while the Cardinals got 13 hits off of Cliff Lee and Friends on Sunday, many of them were bleeders and bloopers (or note the Redbirds’ .542 BABIP or Cliff Lee’s 1.03 FIP in Game 2, for those of you to whom those numbers make more sense).
The Phillies will make one lineup change from Game 2, inserting John Mayberry for Raul Ibanez. Mayberry has a .953 OPS this season against lefties, and Ibanez has a .585 OPS against lefties, so platooning them is pretty self-evidently a smart move. The Rollins-Utley-Pence-Howard-Victorino top five will remain, which has the advantage of getting Pence’s hot bat further up in the lineup, getting Chase Utley (on balance, the team’s best on-base guy) more plate appearances, and following up each of the team’s big left-handed bats (Utley and Howard) with a guy who absolutely murders lefties (Pence and Victorino).
This isn’t quite a must-win game for the Phillies, but much hangs in the balance. You might want to wear gloves for this one to avoid biting your fingernails off completely.
Lineup: Rollins SS, Utley 2B, Pence RF, Howard 1B, Victorino CF, Mayberry Jr. LF, Polanco 3B, Ruiz C, Hamels P
Your gameday beer: Negra Modelo
Jaime Garcia is from Mexico. Cole Hamels is from San Diego, which is as physically close as you can get to Mexico without going through customs. Negra Modelo is from Mexico. ‘Nuff said.