Bulldoze 'em over: Phils like Game 6 chances
Motivated Oswalt, home-field advantage key against Giants
PHILADELPHIA -- The last time Roy Oswalt pitched in Game 6 of a National League Championship Series, he earned himself a bulldozer.
Could he do better this time?
"I might go see what Ruben [Amaro Jr.] wants to do," Oswalt joked Friday.
Oswalt faces the San Francisco Giants in Game 6 of the NLCS Saturday at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies trail the Giants, 3-2, in the best-of-seven series, which means the Phillies must win Saturday to force Game 7 on Sunday.
Oswalt pitched under different circumstances when he pitched in Game 6 of the 2005 NLCS with the Houston Astros. The Astros had a 3-2 lead over the St. Louis Cardinals, with Game 6 at Busch Stadium. The Astros had the advantage. But that did not mean Houston owner Drayton McLane did not want to motivate Oswalt.
The two had talked throughout the season about Oswalt buying McLane's bulldozer, so before Game 6 McLane made Oswalt a deal:
Win and I'll buy you a new one.
Oswalt won, and got the bulldozer.
Of course, Oswalt does not need any extra motivation Saturday. He waived his no-trade clause to come to Philadelphia, because he wants to win a World Series. If he pitches well against the Giants -- and the Phillies hit San Francisco left-hander Jonathan Sanchez -- he keeps those hopes alive.
The Phillies like their chances, considering the circumstances.
Six teams have overcome 3-1 deficits in LCS history, and the Phillies hope to be the seventh.
Phillies outfielder Ben Francisco played for Cleveland Indians in 2007, the last team to blow a 3-1 lead in the LCS. That club had CC Sabathia on the mound against Red Sox right-hander Josh Beckett in Game 5 in Cleveland. Boston beat Sabathia and sent the series back to Fenway Park in front of a raucous crowd.
The Red Sox beat the Indians in Games 6 and 7 at home to advance to the World Series.
"We knew we wanted to win that game at home," Francisco said. "It was a big game. We had our ace on the mound. We didn't want to go to Boston. There definitely was a sense of a missed opportunity when you're home and you have to get on a plane to go to the other team's home park."
Maybe the Giants felt the same way as they boarded their flight Thursday night for Philadelphia.
Maybe a little bit of doubt or concern has crept into the back of their minds.
The Phillies certainly felt confident boarding their flight home.
"We play good at our ballpark in front of our fans, and kind of regained home-field advantage a little bit," outfielder Jayson Werth said. "This is really good for us to get back there. Obviously we needed to win one game to get home -- we did that, and we'll head back to Philly. ... We're a focused bunch, and we've got some professional guys in there and some really good players. We still know what we're doing.""I think everybody has got to feel good about our situation," Roy Halladay said. "We're going back to our place with two of our best pitchers down the stretch going back out there. We needed to get back to Philly, and we're looking forward to it." If Oswalt puts in a bulldozer-worthy performance in Game 6, it would be Cole Hamels vs. Matt Cain in Game 7. Cain owned the Phillies in Game 3, but recent history could be disregarded in Game 7.
"We'll take our chances with Roy and Cole," center fielder Shane Victorino said. "We like where we're at right now."
They like the fact they are home, too. Several players in the clubhouse after Game 5 on Thursday at AT&T Park said they were looking forward to the home-field advantage.
That means loud fans.
"When your backs are against the wall, the only thing you can really do is coming out fighting," Jimmy Rollins said. "Either you're going to live or you're going to pack it up. We were able to get another game out of this and go home. I think we're all looking forward to what it's going to be like."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.