Many of you obviously know that TBOH is one of the top 32 Phillies blogs on the internet. Other teams, however, aren’t suffocated by the very volume of their blogosphere, struggling to be heard amongst many, many screaming voices.
But did you know that there are bloggers who don’t depend on goofy pictures of cats and dick jokes to get a point across?!?
I actually think of myself as slightly less optimistic than the average Reds fan as far as I can tell based on a) talking to friends b) hearing casual fans talk about it and c) listening to sports talk (BTW, we have about one tenth of the sports talk options here that you have in Philly; and, as an aside, I’m almost ashamed to acknowledge that I’m friends with Dan Schwartzman of 97.5 The Fanatic fame, from our days as classmates at Ohio University.)
Anyway, what I keep hearing over and over is along these lines: “You’ve got to beat the best to be the best, and at least we get them in a short series where anything can happen and we get to stay in our time zone (which Dusty Baker has acknowledged is a HUGE deal). And we played them tough in Philly before the break – three one-run games and three extra-inning games, including that memorable Travis Wood-Roy Halladay duel – even though we got swept. We beat them two out of three here, we beat up on Halladay, and we can win this series!”
I would say I’m more respectfully and cautiously optimistic. I don’t like the idea of being overconfident or too confident when you’re preparing to face a team that’s better on paper, that posted the best record in baseball, that you’re not favored to beat AND that is appearing in the playoffs for the fourth consecutive year.
While we haven’t traditionally fared well when we travel to the west coast, I secretly hoped a little bit that we’d draw the Giants or Padres (once we found out there was no way we were going to get to play the Braves) because the top three pitchers for both of those teams just have not been as consistently good down the stretch as Halladay, Hamels and Oswalt. I wouldn’t have minded if we’d have faced another team in the NLDS and given someone else the chance to knock out the Phils in the first round before we had to face them.
That being said, I do think the series is winable for the Reds.
There’s no doubt Oswalt has been MONEY for you guys since he got there. We were constantly reminded of Oswalt’s dominance specifically against us when he was 23-1 career against the Reds. He hasn’t faced us since the trade, but he’s 0-2 against us this season.
The Reds remember the sometimes shaky Oswalt as an Astro before he was traded. In fact, his final start before the trade was in Houston against the Reds when he allowed 9 hits and 6 earned in five innings to fall to 6-12 on the season. He’s been dealing lately, but the Reds know the Astro they faced earlier in the year was hittable.
The Reds led the NL in batting average (.272), slugging percentage (.436), runs (790), hits (1515), home runs (188) and total bases (2432).
Votto was 11-for-28 with 5 walks and 3 homers in seven regular-season games against the Phils. And he remembers which team’s manager didn’t select him for the National League squad for the All-Star Game.
Rolen is a Phils Killer. He has 54 hits in 162 career at-bats (.333) against Philly. He missed three of the regular-season showdowns with the Phils.
Our starting pitchers have looked very sharp lately. Volquez (Game 1) had a 1.95 ERA with 31 strikeouts in 27 2/3 innings in September. Arroyo only had three starts (out of 17) over the last three months of the season where he allowed more than 3 earned runs. Seven of Cueto’s past 10 starts have been quality starts.
Maybe we’ll luck out and get to play the team that got shut out five times in nine games at the end of May.
Halladay has never made a playoff start. Hamels struggled during the 2009 postseason (though, to his credit, he was ’08 World Series MVP).
Lidge has been MONEY over the past two months; he’s due for an implosion.
OK, I’m starting to reach when I’m just hoping for a Lidge implosion. Anyway, hopefully it’ll be a great series. Congrats on an outstanding season and best of luck.