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10/18/10 12:25 AM ET
Sloppy Giants hamper their own cause
Sanchez's wildness, lapses on defense set early negative tone
By Anthony Castrovince / MLB.com
PHILADELPHIA -- The four-run seventh inning the Phillies strung together against Jonathan Sanchez and a trail of relievers pushed Game 2 of the National League Championship Series into lopsided-loss territory for Giants. But this game felt a bit askew for the visiting club from the very beginning. Any momentum that might have carried over from the glory of Game 1 was eliminated not just by a dominant performance by Roy Oswalt but also by the Giants' general shakiness on the mound and in the field. "It wasn't a pretty game for us, all around," right fielder Cody Ross said. "Defensively, offensively, everything." Sanchez was just plain wild early. He needed 35 pitches to get through the first. Yes, he struck out the side, but he walked three batters along the way, with ball four to Jimmy Rollins bringing home a run. And while it appeared ball four might have actually caught the inside corner of the strike zone, Sanchez's overall trouble finding that zone with his breaking ball in the first didn't help his cause. Nor was Sanchez's cause aided by the error made behind him that made that first run unearned. With Chase Utley aboard at second and one out, Placido Polanco sent a grounder to third baseman Mike Fontenot, who scooped it up and fired to first. Fontenot's throw pulled first baseman Aubrey Huff off the bag, but it appeared as though Huff might have been able to make the tag on Polanco's leg, had the ball not kicked out of his glove. The error was charged to Fontenot, and it would come back to haunt the Giants when Rollins drew that walk with two out. "The ball tailed on me on that one," Fontenot said. One mangled defensive play that didn't come back to haunt the Giants but was nonetheless ugly to watch came in the fourth, when Rollins reached on a leadoff popup to the left side. Fontenot charged in on the ball, only to back off and see it fall between him and catcher Buster Posey near the mound. "I thought I heard somebody," Fontenot said. "I just didn't go after it." Fontenot should have taken charge and grabbed the popup, but Sanchez also should have strayed further away from the scene so as not to cause a distraction. "Nobody said nothing," Sanchez said. Fortunately for the Giants, Sanchez retired the next three batters to make it a non-issue. The final questionable play came in the seventh. Oswalt reached with a leadoff single to knock Sanchez out of the game. After a Shane Victorino sacrifice bunt and an Utley intentional walk, Polanco ripped a single to center off Ramon Ramirez. With Oswalt streaking through third-base coach Sam Perlozzo's stop sign at third and heading home, center fielder Andres Torres fired home. But Huff cut the throw off at the mound and made his own throw home, and Oswalt slid in safely. Had Huff let the throw pass, the Giants might have had a better play at the plate. "I glanced at the third-base coach, and he had his hands up," Huff said. "I cut it off thinking maybe [Oswalt] was taking a big turn. ... In hindsight, I should have let it go, and he would have been nailed. It's just one of those plays that's a reaction play. There's nothing you can do about it now." And in the wake of the loss, all the Giants could do was try to chalk this up as just a bad night at the ballpark. "This was one of those games where you come off the field in the ninth, walk up the stairs and forget about it," Ross said.