The possibility became a reality. The Phillies, as suspected, have every bit what the Giants have in pitching. And as it became painfully apparent, much more than the Giants have in hitting.
In a brief interview that followed the Fox game telecast Sunday night, Jimmy Rollins of the Phils made that all too clear. Not long after he made it equally clear on the field.
Rollins, a Bay Area kid who graduated from Encinal High in Alameda, doubled in three runs in the bottom of the seventh to effectively decide a game Philadelphia would take easily 6-1. Then he said, “Pitching is important, but you need to score runs to win games.”
How the Giants will accomplish that is no less a mystery than it’s been for months. But they might start by benching Andres Torres and replacing him with Aaron Rowand, as when the situation called for it earlier in the season Torres took over center field and the leadoff position from Rowand.
And they might wish to return Pablo Sandoval to a lineup which, with the delightful exception of Cody Ross — who hit his fourth homer in the last three postseason games — seems virtually incapable of sending anyone else across the plate.
“We’ll discuss changes on the flight home,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said in a snippet of a postgame interview shown on ESPN.
Torres, who contributed so much until the last weeks of the regular season, is contributing nothing in the playoffs. He’s been the leadoff batter, the one supposed to get on base one way so others get better pitches and maybe bring him home.
In baseball parlance, he’s a table setter. But Torres, figuratively, is dropping the plates and spilling the water. The way he’s setting tables, we’d all go hungry.
Torres struck out in his four at-bats Sunday night, is 1-for-9 in the two NL Championship Series games and — egad — 3-for-25 in the six total contests, with one walk and (egad again) 12 strikeouts.
If you can’t even get a ball in play, you’ve got no chance.
Maybe Torres still is feeling the effects of his Sept. 12 appendectomy. He rushed back, perhaps too soon. If the Giants don’t find a leadoff batter who can get on base, this series will be over too soon.
Indeed, on Sunday San Francisco missed Juan Uribe, out with an injured wrist when he slid into second base Saturday. And Roy Oswalt pitched beautifully for the Phils. But four hits for the Giants, including Ross’ home run and two singles by Freddy Sanchez?
If the Giants’ pitching is slightly off, and it was in Game 2, Jonathan Sanchez walking three in an interminably long first, and the fielding is more than slightly off, and it was with errors of commission (Mike Fontenot) and omission (Fontenot watching a popup drop and Aubrey Huff cutting off a throw to the catcher), it’s going to be a mismatch.
Bochy yanked Sandoval against the Atlanta Braves because the manager wanted more discipline at the plate than Pablo tends to exhibit. Discipline doesn’t, however, matter very much when the other team gets six runs and you get one.
It’s time to reinstate Sandoval and Rowand. Or do you have a better alternative?
Art Spander has been covering Bay Area sports since 1965 and also writes on www.artspander.com and www.realclearsports.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.