10/02/07 8:06 PM ET
Phils, Rox carry big sticks to NLDS
Several of National League's top sluggers ready to face off
By Jim Molony / MLB.com
When the NL East champion Phillies host the NL Wild Card-winning Rockies in Game 1 of their best-of-five series on Wednesday afternoon (3:07 p.m. ET), it's as much a fuse-lighting as an opening game:
The Rockies led the NL in hitting with a .280 team batting average, the Phillies finished the regular season sixth (.274).
The Phillies led the NL with 892 runs, the Rockies were second with 860. Philadelphia's 213 home runs were the second most in the NL, behind Milwaukee. The Rockies finished tied for seventh with 171.
The Phillies led the NL in total bases with 2,605, the Rockies came in fourth, with 2,489. The Rockies and Phillies finished tied for the league lead in on-base percentage, while the Phillies led the league in slugging (.458) and the Rockies came in fourth (.437).
Among NL teams, only the Mets stole more bases than the Phillies (138). The Rockies were seventh (100).
"If you're not careful, either one of these teams can put some runs on you in a hurry, and that can dictate the game," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "Offense, definitely a lot of similarities, and also personnel wise."
Both teams come in on a roll. The Phillies went 13-4 down the stretch to catch the Mets for the NL East crown. The Rockies won 14 of 15, including a 9-8, 13-inning victory over San Diego in a tiebreaker game on Monday night.
"Charlie and I talked about that the last time we were here," Rockies manager Clint Hurdle. "There's a lot of common fabric I found between the clubs when you just start breaking them down. You look at the journeys that each club has taken respectively. You have a new cluster of offensive players that are probably the most identifiable characteristic with the club, and you have a couple veterans that bring a lot of heart and guts to the program.
"You've got some pitchers that have had to battle and scratch and claw to get outs, but they have gotten them. You have had a bullpen that has probably turned over a couple different times, but it's turned over at the right time. Their bullpen finished very strong. Our bullpen was recreated at one point in time in the season and it finished very strong.
"The similarities are numerous. But the offensive characteristics -- there's a combination, and we had it at one time -- we had a lot more speed at one time than we do now, and power. We've lost some of our speed, but we still have some power. Those were the things Charlie and I talked about the last time we were here," Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said.
Some power is something of an understatement. Usually, you have to be at an All-Star Game to see this much firepower gathered at one ballpark:
Three of the top eight hitters in the National League, including batting champ Matt Holliday of Colorado (.340), Phillies second baseman Chase Utley (.332) and Rockies first baseman Todd Helton (.320).
Five of the top 20 home run hitters in the NL, including the reigning NL Most Valuable Player, Philadelphia's Ryan Howard, who finished second in the league with 47 homers; Holliday (fourth with 36), Philadelphia's Pat Burrell and Jimmy Rollins (T-14th, 30) and Colorado's Brad Hawpe (20th, 29).
Seven of the top 20 RBI leaders in the league, beginning with league-leader Holliday (137), runner-up Howard (136), Hawpe (sixth, 116), Colorado's Garrett Atkins (eighth, 111), Utley (12th, 103), Colorado shortstop Troy Tulowitzki (18th, 99) and Burrell (19th, 97).
National League Division Series schedule
|Wed., Oct. 3||10 p.m.||Chase Field||TBS|
|Thu., Oct. 4||10 p.m.||Chase Field||TBS|
|Sat. Oct. 6||6 p.m.||Wrigley Field||TBS|
|*Sun. Oct. 7||1 p.m.||Wrigley Field||TNT|
|*Tue. Oct. 9||10 p.m.||Chase Field||TBS|
|Wed., Oct. 3||3 p.m.||Citizens Bank Park||TBS|
|Thu., Oct. 4||3 p.m.||Citizens Bank Park||TBS|
|Sat. Oct. 6||9:30 p.m.||Coors Field||TBS|
|*Sun. Oct. 7||10 p.m.||Coors Field||TBS|
|*Tue. Oct. 9||6:30 p.m.||Citizens Bank Park||TBS|
|* If necessary. All times ET.|
Five of the top 11 league leaders in runs scored: Rollins (first with 139), Holliday (third, 120), Phillies center fielder Aaron Rowand (10th, 105) and Tulowitzki and Utley (tied for 11th with 104).
Seven of the top 25 in the league in hits: league leader Holliday (216), Rollins (T-second, 212), Rowand (eighth, 189), Atkins (14th, 182), Helton (T-18th, 178), Tulowitzki (20th, 177) and Utley (21st, 176).
Eight of the top 25 in the NL in on-base plus slugging percentage: Holliday (third, 1.012), Howard (T-fifth, .976), Utley (T-fifth, .976), Helton (11th, .928), Hawpe (12th, .926), Burrell (15th, .902), Rowand (19th, .889) and Rollins (22nd, .889).
"It's no secret they have got a good offense," Rockies starter Jeff Francis said. "I think we match up pretty well with them offensively. In that lineup, it doesn't seem like there's a break. The last time I faced them, [Shane] Victorino wasn't even in the lineup, and it still seemed right up to the pitcher's spot there wasn't a break.
"Obviously, with Victorino back in there and Utley hitting third -- Howard, Burrell, Rowand, it just doesn't stop. Those guys, they have all had great years, and they all have produced and they can all do it at any time."
Jim Molony is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.