Will Cain be able to quiet Phillies' stars?
Giants' Game 3 starter has struggled vs. Philly firepower
SAN FRANCISCO -- With the Phillies' 6-1 win against the Giants on Sunday night, the National League Championship Series is knotted at one game apiece as the teams prepare for Games 3, 4 and 5 at AT&T Park.On Tuesday, both teams will look to take a one-game advantage in a pivotal Game 3 that pits October standout Cole Hamels against Giants workhorse Matt Cain. Here are some storylines to watch: Can Cain quiet Philly stars? Cain's career stats against the Phillies -- 0-3 with a 6.23 ERA -- are nothing to write home about, and neither are his numbers against three of the Phillies' top hitters.
Second baseman Chase Utley has had great success against Cain, hitting .467 (7-for-15) in his career with three home runs and seven RBIs. Jimmy Rollins (6-for-10) also has hit Cain hard, knocking out three triples and a home run and driving in five runs against the right-hander. And although Cain has been able to keep power-hitting first baseman Ryan Howard fairly quiet (2-for-10 with four strikeouts), both of Howard's hits have left the yard.Utley, Rollins and Howard are a combined 6-for-20 (.300) in the NLCS. Will Giants outfielder Cody Ross keep it going? There's no reason to think he can't. After hitting two home runs off Roy Halladay in Game 1, all Ross did in Game 2 was hit a game-tying homer off Roy Oswalt. In all, Ross is hitting .500 (3-for-6) in the NLCS and .350 (7-for-20) in the postseason. Ross also is going up against a familiar face in Hamels. Ross, who spent the previous three-plus seasons in the NL East with Florida, is 9-for-30 with four homers against the lefty. Juan Uribe's wrist: It's no stretch to say that the entire left side of the Giants' infield hinges on Uribe's left wrist, which the shortstop injured while sliding into second base in Game 1. Uribe, 31, had an MRI on the wrist on Monday in San Francisco, but the results were not known following the team's off-day workout. If he is good to go, he'll likely get the start at third base, sliding over so Edgar Renteria can start against the lefty Hamels. If Uribe is unable to go, the Giants would basically be forced to start switch-hitter Pablo Sandoval at third, despite Sandoval's struggles (.227 batting average) against left-handers this season. Uribe hasn't done much at the plate in the playoffs -- with only two hits in 18 at-bats -- but he is a threat to leave the yard at any time. He was one of the key cogs in San Francisco's lineup this season, ranking second on the team with 24 home runs and 85 RBIs, both career highs, while batting .248 in 148 games. He is also able to step up in key moments. Eleven of his 24 homers this season either tied the score or gave the Giants the lead. Hamels continues to etch place in history: Hamels is only 26, but he's already had quite a postseason career. The MVP of both the 2008 NLCS and World Series, he is 6-3 with a 3.36 ERA in 11 playoff starts. On Tuesday he'll become only the 33rd pitcher in Major League history to make 12 career postseason starts. Although the Wild Card era may skew those numbers somewhat, there is no doubt that Hamels has proven himself to be one of the top postseason pitchers during the past four seasons. He also has dealt with adversity in his five big league seasons, going 10-11 with a 4.32 ERA last season and posting a 7.58 ERA in four postseason starts. Now, thanks to greater maturity, a cut fastball and an even greater work ethic, he is back on track, similar to 2008. "The cutter's helped him, but I think he's grown up a lot from just the part of the experience of going through a tough year," manager Charlie Manuel said. "And I think the fact that ... we added Roy Halladay, I think he's got a better work routine. [He] learned a lot from Roy. And Hamels has always been a mentally tough guy. He's always loved to pitch." Return of Rollins? There's no question that 2010 has been a season to forget for Rollins, who played in only 88 games while dealing with a lingering hamstring injury. The NL Division Series also wasn't kind to the 31-year-old shortstop, who hit just .091 (1-for-11) against the Reds. He finally broke out in Game 2, working a bases-loaded walk in the first inning, getting an infield single in the fourth when a popup fell between three Giants and knocking out a bases-clearing three-run double in the seventh. Considering that performance, along with his aforementioned numbers against Cain (6-for-10) and AT&T Park's spacious outfield, it wouldn't be a surprise to see him have continued success in Game 3.
Cash Kruth is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.