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.
MASN’s Roch Kubatko is reporting that the Orioles have “some level” of interest in free agent outfielder Denard Span. The Nationals did not make a $15.8 million qualifying offer to Span, which means he doesn’t come attached with draft pick compensation unlike other free agents such as Alex Gordon and Dexter Fowler.
Span, who turns 32 in February, hit a solid .301/.365/.431 with five home runs, 22 RBI, 38 runs scored, and 11 stolen bases, but took only 275 plate appearances due to back and hip injuries. He underwent season-ending hip surgery in September but is expected to be ready to participate in spring training.
The Mets and Royals have also reportedly shown interest in Span’s services.
ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that the Blue Jays are on the prowl for relievers with closing experience. Ryan Madson is one of the names on their list.
Madson, 35, had a career rebirth with the Royals in 2015. He signed a minor league deal with the club that paid him a salary of $850,000 if he made it back to the majors. Due to a plethora of arm injuries, Madson hadn’t pitched in the majors since Game 5 of the 2011 NLDS against the Cardinals as a member of the Phillies. For the Royals, he wound up becoming a crucial member of the bullpen, finishing with a 2.13 ERA and a 58/14 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings.
While Madson allowed five runs in 8 1/3 post-season innings, he pitched well when it mattered most, as he hurled three scoreless frames in three appearances in the World Series against the Mets.
Madson has closing experience, with 55 career saves. 32 of them came in 2011 when he took over the closer’s role from Brad Lidge.
After signing Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ, and trading for Jesse Chavez, the Jays have bolstered their rotation but it was reported on Saturday that interim GM Tony LaCava is still focused on upgrading the pitching staff.
ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that free agent pitcher Trevor Cahill is looking for a one-year, bounce-back deal. The Pirates are one of the potential teams he is considering.
It’s no surprise that the Pirates are on Cahill’s list. Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage has garnered a reputation as a miracle worker after turning around the careers of a handful of pitchers, including Edinson Volquez, Francisco Liriano, and J.A. Happ. Volquez parlayed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Pirates into a two-year, $20 million deal with the Royals last December. Liriano signed with the Pirates on a one-year, $1 million contract and turned that into a three-year, $39 million deal. Happ, dealt to the Pirates from the Mariners at the most recent trade deadline, just signed a three-year, $39 million contract with the Blue Jays.
Cahill, once a highly-regarded pitching prospect, has scuffled over parts of seven seasons in the majors. The 27-year-old owns a career 4.13 ERA with a 754/427 K/BB ratio in 1,083 2/3 innings. Cahill had some brief success after signing with the Cubs as a free agent in mid-August, compiling a 2.12 ERA in 11 appearances out of the bullpen.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that the Blue Jays have narrowed their search for a new general manager down to two candidates: current interim GM Tony LaCava, and Indians vice president of player personnel Ross Atkins. Former Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos resigned last month.
LaCava was promoted to interim GM on November 2 and has already made a handful of moves along with new president Mark Shapiro. The club acquired Jesse Chavez in a trade and signed pitchers Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ to multi-year deals.
Atkins worked under Shapiro in the Indians organization for 15 seasons, so it is no surprise that he is a finalist for the open GM position.