10/07/10 10:24 PM ET
NLDS shifts back to reality for Game 2 in Philly
By Tom Singer / MLB.com
The last Cincinnati lineup to lose consecutive games to Oswalt, at the tail end of the 2008 season, included only two current Reds: Joey Votto and Jay Bruce. Houston lost five of Oswalt's last six starts against the Reds. And the current Reds roster's cumulative lifetime average against him is a solid .290.Bruce did a little inadvertent Rolling Stones riff to explain his team's recent success against Oswalt: "Time was on our side." "But," Bruce added, "the biggest thing is the execution factor and the fact that we have an approach that works and works consistently." On the same subject, Baker said, "Different team. And more of a contact team." The Reds, however, may also see an Oswalt different from the one they twice beat earlier this season, in his Astros phase. "He's a very tough competitor. He's been better than Roy Halladay since he's been here," Baker said. Oswalt can't possibly extend that perceived superiority for another night. The day off between Games 1 and 2 turned into a Halladay moratorium which the Phillies -- who had chosen this Division Series schedule, to enable them to go with a three-man rotation -- viewed in an unfavorable light. "When we're playing good, I like for us to continue on playing. I don't particularly like off-days," Manuel said. "When you're playing good, you like to be on the field playing." By inference, then, the pause should be a good break for the Reds. Cincinnati still has a major challenge if it wishes to avoid returning home to Great American Ball Park in an 0-2 hole. Even if these are the Cincinnati Resilients, as they again reminded everyone, focusing on the obstacles they already had to overcome just to make it into these playoffs: the demoralizing four-game sweep right here prior to the All-Star Game break, the even more humbling sweep by the Cardinals at home in mid-August. "We've been here before," Joey Votto said. "We slept on it. Now we've got to forget it," Baker said. "There's always two sides of history, the side that people love to see and the side that we were on." While it may have counted as only one game in the series standings, Halladay's rebuff could carry more emotional weight. At the very least, it was dramatic validation of the pre-series theme, that a trio of supreme starting pitchers gave the Phillies a tremendous edge. But the Reds can also look at it as a great opportunity to make their postseason mark, by accomplishing something unprecedented. There have been comebacks in postseason series from deficits of 2-0, 3-1, even 3-0. But there has been no comeback from being no-hit (Don Larsen's perfect game in the 1956 World Series, the only prior postseason no-hitter, led to the Yankees' Series win over the Dodgers). When not at his sharpest, Arroyo can have a rotten time with left-handed hitters, who during the 2010 season hit him a hundred points higher (.285) than did right-handers. Plus, 15 of the 29 homers off him were hit by lefties, in fewer at-bats. The Phillies' trio of Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez is 7-for-18 against Arroyo. This is what Baker had in mind when he set his Division Series rotation: to have his big winner available to help prevent a possible 0-2 deficit. "Arroyo has been here before," said Baker, before adding a description of the right-hander that could worry Reds fans: "He's not bothered by too much. He's a good-time Charlie." Baker had invoked the same description a couple days earlier of Edinson Volquez, who definitely did not have a good time in his Game 1 start.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.