Poking around baseball reference, some concerning statistics going into NLCS Game 4:
- Derek Lowe on three days rest is a gamble. Lowe only has one other outing this year on three days' rest and the result was not good, a loss to the Angels May 18 in which Lowe gave up 10 hits and 7 ER in a five-inning appearance. Lifetime, Lowe is 2-1 on three days' rest, out of four total appearances (as a starter). So, short rest has paid dividends for Lowe before; just not this year.
- Joe Blanton has been pretty darn good since he joined the Phillies. Blanton was a pedestrian 5-12 with Oakland earlier this year, but since he came over to the Phils, he is 4-0 and the team is 9-4 in the games he has started. He picked up a win in his NLDS appearance vs. Milwaukee, ceding 1 ER and 5 hits over six innings, including seven strikeouts. Blanton will be tough Monday, no doubt.
- Dodger starters are easily rattled. Both Lowe and Chad Billingsley couldn't shake themselves out of funks once the first signs of attacks came, and Billingsley basically said that the difference between his NLDS win and his NLCS meltdown was the five-run cushion the Dodger bats gave him in the former. That's exactly the kind of safety net the Dodgers gave Hiroki Kuroda in the first inning of NLCS Game 3, and when the Phillies got one run back, Rafael Furcal answered with a solo HR to put the margin back at five. Lowe was rolling in Game 1 until the Chase Utley home run tied it, and Pat Burrell's subsequent homer came quickly thereafter, and Torre called it a night immediately thereafter. Let's hope Lowe can keep poised in Game 4, with the advantage of a more familiar home-field setting--even with the chin music that will inevitably be thrown Monday night.
The remedy for all three of these concerns, of course, is for the Dodgers to come out swinging and score some runs early on. If we score early, Lowe enjoys the cushion of run support (a rarity for Derek throughout his Dodger career), Blanton gets removed from the picture early, and Lowe doesn't get rattled no matter what reindeer games start getting played with inside pitches.
You see, that's all we have to do! Easy. Separately, and I haven't done the research to confirm this, but I believe that most of the time, the team that scores more runs than its opponent ends up winning the game. We should aspire to score more runs than Philadelphia, too.