The Philadelphia Phillies have shown this weekend in San Francisco why they have the best starting pitching in the majors. The Giants’ continued struggles at the plate might also be a reason for the visitors’ dominance.
Roy Oswalt looks to continue that success when he returns from the disabled list Sunday trying to help the Phillies to a 10th straight win and a four-game sweep of Tim Lincecum and the Giants.
Most offshore sports books monitored by the SportsOptions odds product have opened the Giants as $1.35 home favorites, with a total of 6 1/2 ‘over’ (minus $1.15).
Complete games from Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels sandwiched around a solid seven-inning effort from rookie Vance Worley have left Philadelphia (74-39) in position to sweep a series of at least three games in San Francisco for the first time since May 18-20, 1984.
“We know how good the Giants can be but at the same time if we play the way we’re capable of playing and stay relaxed and focused … that works for us,” said manager Charlie Manuel, whose starters lead the majors in ERA (2.95) as well as strikeouts and innings.
In the midst of their longest winning stretch since an 11-game run Sept. 12-24, the Phillies have outscored the Giants 14-3 to avenge dropping two of three at home last week to the reigning World Series champions, who beat them in the NL championship series last year.
Though the Giants (62-52) remain a serious postseason contender, they have dropped eight of nine and are hitless in 17 at-bats with runners in scoring position in the series. They have averaged a major league-low 3.0 runs since the All-Star break and have scored two or fewer 12 times while losing 11 of 16.
“You don’t win the World Series unless you can beat good pitching. Right now we’re not doing that,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “You have to figure out a way to win these games.”
After managing seven hits off Hamels in Saturday’s 2-1 defeat, the Giants face Oswalt (4-6, 3.79 ERA) in his first outing since June 23 at St. Louis, where he left after two innings with lower back inflammation.
Though the right-hander could be rusty, Oswalt might be confident after going 2-0 with a 2.14 ERA in three starts against the Giants since coming to Philadelphia at last year’s trade deadline. That includes the NLCS when he gave up two earned runs in 14 innings while going 1-0 in two starts.
“The thing about baseball is that you never know what’s going to happen until you get out there,” Oswalt told the Phillies’ official website.
Lincecum (9-9, 2.77) allowed three hits in six scoreless innings in a 4-1 win July 28 to improve to 3-1 with a 1.45 ERA in his last five regular-season starts against the Phillies. He was 1-1 with a 3.14 ERA against them in the NLCS.
Though he is one loss away from matching a career high set last season, Lincecum has a 1.74 ERA in his last nine starts but has gone 4-4 greatly because the Giants have only scored 16 runs for him. After he yielded no more than one run in four consecutive starts, the only runs Lincecum allowed in seven innings Tuesday were on a two-run homer and he surrendered only two other hits in a 6-1 loss to Arizona.
Though Philadelphia’s Hunter Pence is 3 for 22 with eight strikeouts against Lincecum, he’s batting .382 with seven RBIs in eight games since being acquired from Houston on July 29.
Pablo Sandoval went 2 for 4 with a homer Saturday to raise his average to .313, and he’s the only Giants player above .290.