Phils will win this fight

The Baltimore Sun

The Philadelphia Phillies are playing for the National League pennant even though in the opening playoff series, they really didn't do what they're supposed to do best - hit.

They dispatched the Milwaukee Brewers in four games, scoring just under four runs a game, more than a full run below their season average. And their two most dangerous hitters, Ryan Howard and Chase Utley, went a combined 4-for-26 with three RBIs.

So, for starters, is it likely that Howard and Utley will stay this quiet? And even if they do, the rest of the Philadelphia lineup has proved it is capable of bunching base runners and big hits to produce game-turning innings, which is exactly what happened against the Brewers.

The Dodgers' starting pitching, as formidable as it is, is predominantly right-handed. That plays to the Phillies' offensive strength, which is from the left side (the aforementioned Utley and Howard). It also puts the Phillies' two speedsters, Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino two steps closer to first base; both are switch-hitters. And it means the Phillies are able to go with the better-hitting platoon third baseman, Greg Dobbs.

Obviously, Manny Ramirez has been torrid for the Dodgers, but if the Phillies pitch him smart, they can defuse a lot of Los Angeles' offense.

While the Dodgers' strength is pitching depth, the Phillies proved they can get to anyone by chasing Milwaukee's CC Sabathia in four innings in the NL Division Series. Meanwhile, the Phils' own ace, Cole Hamels, has been as consistent as any pitcher in the majors over the past two months, giving up two earned runs or fewer in 10 of his past 11 starts.

While Los Angeles' middle relief might be slightly better, the Phillies have closer Brad Lidge, who is perfect (43-for-43) in save opportunities this season. And finally, the Phils have the advantage of the home field.

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