Roy Oswalt gets it done on the mound, on the bases as the Phillies tie up the NLCS at 1

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The best part of this game came right after it was over, as FOX’s Ken Rosenthal was interviewing Jimmy Rollins:

Rosenthal: “What does this game do for you, Jimmy?”

Rollins: “Well, it puts us tied 1-1.”

Some things just are as they appear, you know?

Like Roy Oswalt dealing. There was no magic here. There was nothing more than what met the eye: Oswalt throwing lots of strikes, challenging Giants hitters to do something with them, only to have them fail over and over again. Cody Ross got another homer on what must have been a mistake pitch — no way that Chooch and Oswalt mean to throw him yet another middle-in fastball, right? Not after he hit that pitch out twice against Halladay, right? — but that was about it. Oswalt threw eight dominant innings, striking out nine and allowing only that homer and a couple of singles.

But that wasn’t all. Oswalt contributed on the basepaths as well, singling, then taking second on a sacrifice, then scoring from second on a Placido Polanco single. Which he really shouldn’t have scored on, by the way, as third base coach Sam Perlozzo had the stop sign up as Oswalt approached third. I guess Roy couldn’t hear him over the sound of the swooshing satin of the warmup jacket he was wearing while on base, because he kept coming and slid home ahead of the relay throw to make it 3-1 Phillies. There probably shouldn’t have been a relay throw. If the ball wasn’t cut off, Oswalt may have been nailed at the plate. It ended up being a moot point, though, as the Phillies scored three runs on a bases-clearing double by Rollins later in the inning, putting the game out of reach.

For the Giants part, Jonathan Sanchez started out shaky, unable to make the ball go where he wanted it to. He walked in the game’s first run during his 35-pitch first inning. If early in the game you would have told me that Sanchez would pitch into the seventh I would have said you were crazy, but he settled down and did just that. He had some help getting there though, as many Phillies hitters — notably Jayson Werth and Rollins — thought it was a good idea to do some first-pitch swinging. Such an approach prolonged Sanchez’s night, but the Phillies made it into the San Francisco bullpen eventually, and when they did it was goodnight Irene.

With this series, like the Yankees-Rangers series, tied 1-1, we have ourselves a competitive couple of League Championship Series, no? On Tuesday it will be Hamels vs. Cain by the Bay. Now that the Phillies have figured out how to pitch to Cody Ross — or at least they hope they have — someone in a cream, black and orange uniform had better figure out how to hit the ball, or else this thing isn’t coming back to Philly.

A.J. Hinch: “We’ll use every pitcher in Game 7 if we have to”

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It’s not entirely clear why the Astros threw Ken Giles into the ninth inning of Game 6 of the ALCS. With a six-run advantage and the bottom half of the Yankees’ lineup due up, pushing the series to its seven-game capacity looked like a sure bet. Giles may be one of Houston’s better bullpen arms, but he’s not their only option, and it would have made more sense to keep him fresh for a do-or-die Game 7 on Saturday night.

Of course, there’s no such thing as a sure bet when it comes to postseason baseball. That’s more or less what Astros’ manager A.J. Hinch had to say after the game, telling reporters that he had envisioned a quick three outs from his closer as they tried to pull back from the brink of elimination. “We didn’t have the luxury of limping into that inning,” Hinch said. “We’ve seen how these guys can explode in these innings.”

It’s not difficult to recall the Yankees’ explosive drive in the eighth inning of Game 4, when they exploited the holes in Houston’s ‘pen and evened the series with Gary Sanchez‘s go-ahead double off of Giles. Back home in Minute Maid Park, however, there was a slightly different feel to the eighth and ninth innings of Game 6. Jose Altuve led off the eighth with a solo home run, followed by Alex Bregman‘s two-run double and Evan Gattis‘ sac fly. In the ninth, Giles labored through a 23-pitch outing to lock down the win, handing out a base hit and a seven-pitch walk before eventually whiffing Chase Headley on three straight pitches for the last out.

So, while Hinch’s decision to lean on Giles in Game 6 may have felt wasteful, his concerns were not entirely unfounded. He’s prepared to roll with the same strategy during Saturday’s series finale, too, leaving nothing on the table as the Astros battle for their first World Series showdown since 2005. According to Dallas Keuchel, that means all hands on deck — except for Justin Verlander, whose four wins, 24 strikeouts and 1.46 postseason ERA have gotten the Astros as far as he could possibly be expected to take them. “No pitcher is going to be in the dugout,” said Keuchel. “They’re all going to be in the bullpen, myself included. Any way we can help out, we’re trying to get to the World Series, the same way the Yankees are, and that’s a nice feeling to have.”

Does that mean Giles will be available for a Game 7 appearance? Stranger things have happened. Joe Sheehan notes that the right-hander has pitched in back-to-back days 13 times this year, though he’s never thrown as many as 23 pitches on Day 1. Granted, he likely doesn’t have enough left in the tank for another 20+ pitch run on Saturday, but with the World Series on the line, any help he can offer will be invaluable.