So, other than that, how was the play last night, Mrs. Lincoln?
If baseball had a football schedule, we would have a week to stew over last night's debacle, but luckily the greatest game on Earth is quick to forgive and forget, as the Dodgers have a chance to quickly erase last night's memory from their minds.
Randy Wolf returns to his old stomping grounds tonight, trying to even the NLCS at two. Wolf was drafted by the Phillies in 1997, and spent his first ten years as a pro in the Phillies' organization. He started the very first game at Citizens Bank Park, in 2004. Manager Joe Torre thought highly enough of Wolf to start him in the NLDS opener against the Cardinals. However, Wolf was inexplicably dropped to fourth in the rotation for the NLCS, but that decision may just pay off just when the Dodgers need it most. Wolf was a rock for the Dodgers this season, leading the club in starts, innings, and quality starts.
Left-handed batters hit just .159/.217/.200 against Wolf this season, striking out in 60 of 185 plate appearances, a stellar 32.4% of the time. In Game 1 against the Cardinals, lefties Skip Schumaker and Colby Rasmus had two hits and two walks in five plate appearances against Wolf. Ryan Howard, who struggled against LHP all season, has a double and two walks in five plate appearances against southpaws in the NLCS, with three runs batted in.
Joe Blanton, who was used in relief in the NLDS, starts tonight for the Phillies. After giving up five runs in five innings in Cincinnati on May 21 (in a win!), Blanton's ERA stood at 7.11, as home plate was always open for the opposition. Since then, however, Blanton really turned it around, going 10-5 with a 3.16 ERA and 4.18 FIP in 23 starts, averaging 6.57 innings per start.
To win tonight, the Dodger offense needs to show up. Over the last two games, the Dodgers have no extra-base hits, and have just two runs and 11 baserunners in total, hitting .145/.190/.145. I keep hearing Citizens Bank Park is a hitter-friendly park, but the Dodgers are doing their best to convince me otherwise. Since the beginning of 2008, the Dodgers have scored just 29 runs in 10 games in Philadelphia, including the playoffs. Nine of those runs came in one game, earlier this season, but other than that runs have been few and far between for the Dodgers in the city of brotherly love. To win tonight and in this series, they need to score, and score often.
A few notes:
- Manny Ramirez has 15 hits in 26 at-bats against Blanton, hitting .577/.636/.731 with one home run
- James Loney is seven for 10 with a double off Blanton, hitting .700/.750/.800
- Andre Ethier has six hits in 14 at-bats, including two solo home runs, against Blanton, hitting .429/.467/.857
- Casey Blake has just one single in 23 at-bats against Blanton, hitting .043/.154/.043
- Pedro Feliz is five for 19 with three homers off Wolf, hitting .294/.316/.824
- Carlos Ruiz if four for six, with two doubles and a home run (shocker, I know) off Wolf, packing a lot of production (.667/.750/1.500) into just eight plate appearances
The Dodgers this postseason are 4-0 when playing on a day with other games scheduled, and 0-2 when they are the lone game on the schedule. The Yankees and Angels play Game 3 of the ALCS today at 1:13pm.
Here are the lineups for Game 4:
Check out Xeifrank's simulation of today's game here.
Game Time: 5:07pm
TV: TBS (Chip Caray, Ron Darling, Buck Martinez)