Manuel: Score early

Phillies' Manager Charlie Manuel watches his team take batting practice before the Phillies play the Los Angeles Dodgers in game one of NLCS at Dodger Stadium on Thursday. (Yong Kim / Staff Photographer)

Charlie Manuel, in the hours before Game 1: "We need to score some runs early."

It will the the story of this NLCS -- whether or not the Phillies can score early runs off of the Dodgers' starting pitchers, beginning with Clayton Kershaw.  Everybody can see it. Everybody knows it. There is little mystery here, no great insight. The imperative is obvious. The Phillies need to win the games before the Dodgers' formidable bullpen becomes an issue.

"It's important for us to go out and get the lead," Manuel said, speaking in the pre-game interview room at Dodger Stadium. "I think that definitely helps our starters..."

And then he talked about the lefty-laden Dodgers bullpen, backed up by closer Jonathan Broxton. It is the strength of the Los Angeles team. And the dynamic is different this time because the Dodgers have the homefield advantage. The Phillies need to grab a game here in the first two -- and seeing as how Pedro Martinez is starting Game 2, a huge gamble by gambling Charlie Manuel, the imperatives for Game 1 continue to grow.

"I think whenever we play in Citizens Bank Park, I think we love to play there and that's an advantage for us, and I think the same here for the Dodgers," Manuel said. "...At the same time, it all depends on the starting pitching and also...we need to score some runs early. I think if we do both of those things, that's how you quiet the crowd -- take the crowd out of it or keep them calm or whatever, and I think good pitching will stop that, just like it will stop good hitting."