Well if that’s not a clearly defined pattern, I don’t know what is. So when Hamels leaves tonight’s game after seven innings having allowed two runs, the Dodgers had better be up 2-0 or 2-1. No pressure, Chad!
Surprisingly enough, it’s the Phillies fans who seem to be feeling the pressure to finish this off tonight. Check out the thoughts from some Philly blogs (nearly all of which I found, by the way, off of SportsBlogUpdate, which seems to be a pretty useful time saver):
No thanks to finishing off the Dodgers at home. Make it Phils in five.
No thanks to Hiroki Kuroda vs. Brett Myers in Game 6. Myers is still suspect, even though he’s rocked at home, and the Phils haven’t solved Kuroda. No thanks to Derek Lowe on normal rest vs. TBA in Game 7. Jamie Moyer is still a big-game pitcher despite his struggles lately, but Lowe is still a better bet than Moyer or Joe Blanton, despite a third look against the Phils.
Big game tonight…
Billingsly is obviously their best pitcher here, but Hamels is better and we have the pitching advantage (though we are in their park). Kuroda has somehow baffled our hitters repeatedly and Myers has had bad outings in 3 of his last 4 games. I am not worried, but it is a dsconcerning trend. Then game 7 is really slanted towards the Dodgers, ESPECIALLY if you believe in momentum (I am mixed on it) cause it means that they beat our two best pitchers and now how Lowe up against our 3/4.
I like to think that the pressure is more on the Dodgers because if they don’t win they, you’re know, done. But whatever. Look, you can make all the historical comparisions to other teams that have come back from being down 3-1 in a LCS (there’s been ten), and you can point to all the current Dodgers that have done it before (Maddux in 1996, Pierre in 2003, Manny/Lowe in 2004, Manny in 2007). That’s fine, and it makes for nice copy in the morning paper. But none of it matters. It’s definitely a cliche to say this, and that’s mostly because it’s so true: only tonight’s game matters. Can Chad Billingsley outduel Cole Hamels? Can the bullpen stop Shane Victorino? Can Joe Torre stay out of his own way? Get past those issues, and then you can worry about a Game 6 later.
Finally, I hate to be a complete downer here, and as I’ve said I refuse to look towards offseason roster moves until this season is over. But just keep tucked away in the small recess of your mind that’s not screaming itself hoarse for the Dodgers that tonight very well could be the last time you see Manny Ramirez (among others, of course) in Dodger blue. Just something to think about.
- Mike Scioscia’s tragic illness