Just as the Yankees did Wednesday in Game 5 of the ALCS, the Phillies have pushed their NLCS matchup with the Giants to a Game 6.
Phillies ace Roy Halladay had a little trouble early on, both in finding the strike zone and during a first-inning stare-down with Giants outfielder Pat Burrell, but the right-hander eventually settled in and surrendered only two earned runs while striking out five over six innings of work.
The Phillies’ bullpen did a fantastic job in his wake, allowing only one hit over the final three frames as an excited and packed AT&T Park slowly grew docile.
Giants starter Tim Lincecum pitched fairly well, finishing with seven strikeouts and only one walk over seven quality innings. But he was hurt by poor defense in what became a three-run third inning for Philly and the San Francisco offense failed to rally.
Now this seven-game series heads back to Philadelphia, where the fans will be ferocious, where the ballpark is more hitter-friendly and where Roy Oswalt will take on Jonathan Sanchez in Game 6 in an effort to keep the Phils kicking.
Oswalt allowed a game-winning sacrifice fly during a relief appearance in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 4, but he’s been dominant since the start of September and should fare well at Citizens Bank Park, where he has held opposing hitters to a .208/.264/.320 batting line in 10 career starts. The righty has a 1.76 ERA and 0.85 WHIP this year in that park. Pick any sample size you’d like; Oswalt does the deed.
That’s not to say that Sanchez, the Giants’ lefty, isn’t capable of burning the Phillies and clinching his club’s first trip to the World Series since 2002. He has surrendered only three earned runs in 13.1 innings this postseason with 18 strikeouts against four walks.
Thursday’s Game 5 in San Francisco wasn’t the great pitching duel that most expected.
Saturday’s Game 6 might be.
White Sox ace Chris Sale was scratched from Saturday night’s start against the Tigers due to a confrontation he had with White Sox coaches and front office staff over the 1976 retro uniforms the club was to wear. Sale used a knife to cut up his uniform as well as the uniforms of some other players, protesting the club’s decision to wear them. The White Sox suspended Sale five games “for violating team rules, for insubordination, and for destroying team equipment.”
Sale spoke about the incident for the first time, as MLB.com’s Scott Merkin reports. The lefty apologized to fans who came to see him pitch and said he regrets “not being there for my guys,” referring to the bullpen, which had to cover for Sale on Saturday. Matt Albers got the spot start and went two innings.
Sale felt the uniform would have impacted his performance, saying, “[The ’76 uniforms] are uncomfortable and unorthodox. I didn’t want to go out there and not be at the top of my game in every aspect that I need to be in. Not only that, but I didn’t want anything to alter my mechanics. … There’s a lot of different things that went into it. Looking bad had absolutely zero to do with it. Nothing.”
Sale was firm that he doesn’t regret standing up for he believes in. “Absolutely not,” he said. He continued, “Do I regret saying business should not be first before winning? Absolutely not.”
With his five-game suspension to end after Wednesday’s game, Sale is on track to start Thursday against the Cubs at Wrigley Field.
At the end of April, Marlins second baseman Dee Gordon was handed an 80-game suspension by Major League Baseball after testing positive for exogenous testosterone and Clostebol, performance-enhancing drugs. Gordon says he took those substances unknowingly.
Gordon will return to the Marlins on Thursday, MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro reports. The club was 10-11 prior to Gordon’s suspension. Since then, the club has gone 43-35 and is now tied with the Mets for second place in the NL East, five games behind the Nationals. Impressively, the Marlins have collectively hit .272/.330/.408 in Gordon’s absence, which compares favorably to the league average .252/.320/.410 triple-slash line.
Gordon, who made the NL All-Star team in 2014 and ’15, was hitting .266/.289/.340 with three doubles, two triples, five RBI, 13 runs scored, and six stolen bases in 97 plate appearances. Derek Dietrich has handled second base in the meantime and has done an admirable job, batting .275/.366/.398 with 22 extra-base hits, 30 RBI, and 26 runs scored in 314 PA. Nevertheless, Gordon is likely to return to full-time duty at second base.