The Phillies handled the Cardinals with a decisive 11-6 victory in Game 1 of the NLDS Saturday at Citizens Bank Park. But not before veteran slugger Lance Berkman gave St. Louis an early 3-0 lead with a first-inning three-run homer to deep right field.
That shot seemed to stun the fans in the stadium, who were expecting Roy Halladay to dominate throughout. Then Ryan Howard answered with his own three-run blast, Raul Ibanez slugged a two-run homer, and the atmosphere at Citizens Bank Park quickly changed from hushed to hysterical.
Berkman caught the brunt of that collective enthusiasm in the bottom of the eighth inning. With the Phillies continuing to pour on runs, fans in the outfield stands began slowly chanting, “Berk-man, Berk-man.”
And here’s Lance’s response, via Frank Fitzpatrick of the Philadelphia Inquirer:
“They were chanting my name,” Berkman told reporters, “but I don’t know why. My name is on the back of my uniform. So it’s nice to know they can read.”
The Phillies lead the five-game series 1-0. Game 2 will get underway Sunday night at 8:00 p.m. ET.
The Giants placed outfielder Hunter Pence on the 10-day disabled list with a right thumb sprain, per an official announcement on Friday. Pence initially sustained the injury during the club’s home opener on April 3, when he dove to intercept a line drive double from Robinson Cano and jammed his thumb. Weeks of playing through the pain hasn’t worked, so he’ll take a breather while the Giants give outfielder Mac Williamson a chance to start in left after getting called up from Triple-A Fresno.
Pence, 35, wouldn’t pin his recent struggles on his injury, but it’s clear that he’s having difficulty finding his footing this year. He slashed a meager .172/.197/.190 through 61 plate appearances in 2018, collecting just one extra-base hit and two walks during the Giants’ dismal 7-11 stretch. While it’s far too early in the season to make any final judgments, it doesn’t look like the veteran outfielder will be replicating the .275+ average, 4.0+ fWAR totals of years past (at least, not anytime soon).
Williamson, meanwhile, has gotten off to a hot start in Triple-A. Prior to his call-up this weekend, the 27-year-old batted an incredible .487/.600/1.026 with six home runs and a 1.626 OPS through his first 50 PA. A hot Triple-A bat doesn’t always survive the transition to the majors, but the Giants will use all the help they can get — especially as they take on the AL West-leading Angels this weekend.