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Baseball Remains The Focus As NLCS Begins

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One of the beauties of baseball is the daily grind, the unending test of wills.  Off days can be excruciating, as we wait for our beloved game to return.  We don't want to hear about owners potentially getting divorced, we don't want to read a lazy column still clinging to a false premise.  In short, we don't want to talk about baseball; we want to watch baseball.

Today, we get that chance.

Clayton Kershaw continues his ascension to the top of the heap, as he gets the Game 1 start.  At 21 years, 209 days old, Kershaw is the second youngest Dodger to start a game one, trailing only Fernando Valenzuela, who was 20 years, 339 days old when he started Game 1 of the 1981 NLCS.

Cole Hamels, 2008 postseason hero for the Phillies, gets the start for the Phillies, looking to continue his dominance of the Dodgers.  Including the playoffs, Hamels has made six career starts against the Dodgers, and I see a disturbing trend:

8/12/08 LA 4-3 7.0 5 2 2 2 7 2.57 1.000
8/23/08 Phi 9-2 7.0 5 2 2 0 5 2.57 0.714
NLCS Gm 1 Phi 3-2 7.0 6 2 2 2 8 2.57 1.129
NLCS Gm 5    Phi 5-1  
7.0 5 1 1 3 5 1.29 1.129
5/14/09 LA 5-3 7.0 7 2 1 1 9 1.29 1.129
6/4/09 Phi 3-0 9.0 5 0 0 0 5 0.00 0.556
Totals Phi 4-2 44.0 33 9 8 8 39 1.64 0.932

Yikes.  In each of his six starts against the Dodgers, Hamels has pitched at least seven innings, and has never given up more than two runs.  The good news for the Dodgers is that: (a) they won two of those six games, and (b) they have Clayton Kershaw.

Kershaw has given up three runs in only three of his 17 home starts this season, allowing a total of just 22 runs.  Kershaw put up a 1.89 ERA and a 2.69 FIP at Dodger Stadium in 2009 so far.  In short, Game 1 figures to be a low scoring affair.

In roster news, the only change for the Dodgers from the NLDS to the NLCS is that Hiroki Kuroda is on the roster, replacing Jon GarlandChad Billingsley has been moved to the bullpen.  For the Phillies, Eric Bruntlett and Old Friend Chan Ho Park are replacing Brett Myers and Kyle Kendrick, according to David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News.  Bruntlett (a Stanford alum) presumably was added to match the Dodgers' Brad Ausmus (Dartmouth) as the smart guy who can't hit.

[Update] - Scott Elbert made the NLCS roster over Jeff Weaver

Complete NLCS Roster:


Pitchers (11) Infielders (8) Outfielders (4) Catchers (2)
Chad Billingsley, RHP Casey Blake Matt Kemp Russell Martin
Clayton Kershaw, LHP Orlando Hudson (S) Juan Pierre (L) Brad Ausmus
George Sherrill, LHP Mark Loretta Andre Ethier (L)
Hiroki Kuroda, RHP James Loney (L) Manny Ramirez
Hong-Chih Kuo, LHP Juan Castro
Jonathan Broxton, RHP Ronnie Belliard
Ramon Troncoso, RHP Rafael Furcal (S)
Randy Wolf, LHP Jim Thome (L)
Ronald Belisario, RHP
Scott Elbert, LHP
Vicente Padilla, RHP


Enough talk.  It's time for baseball.

Game Time:  5:07pm

TV: TBS (Chip "Fisted" Caray, Ron Darling, Buck Martinez)

Baseball Reference Game One Preview