LOS ANGELES — The standings will show the Phillies won three of four games in San Francisco to take the season series from the Giants for the first time in five years. In Monday's San Francisco Chronicle, a headline blared, "Phils make statement in series win over Giants."
The first two games at AT&T Park were commanding victories, thanks to Cliff Lee and an offensive barrage. The final two games offered many of the similar feelings from last October.
Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum dominated. Again.
Now that may not matter as much as it did last fall. The gap between the Phillies' and Giants' offense appears to have widened. The Phillies have a better starting rotation than last season. In the case of the Cain game, he was simply out-pitched by Cole Hamels. The opposite happened in Game 3 of the 2010 National League Championship Series.
With four starts' worth of data this season on Cain and Lincecum, the numbers are not appealing for Phillies fans. The Phillies hit .156 (14 for 90) against the two Giants aces. Only two of those hits were for extra bases.
Of those four games, the Phillies won one. And the game they won, in San Francisco vs. Cain, was largely thanks to a bad throw and catch at third base, plus a passed ball.
The individual numbers against Cain:
And the numbers against Lincecum:
The one that sticks out: Ryan Howard was 0 for 13 with seven strikeouts against Cain and Lincecum.
What does it mean?
Could be nothing. After all, the Giants' numbers against Lee and Hamels were putrid. (And they never even faced Roy Halladay.)
Or maybe the gap between the two offenses isn't quite as wide as paper suggests. A play or two here, and there's the difference in a seven-game series.
We won't know until October.
Texas announced it released lefthander Arthur Rhodes. He will become a free agent on Wednesday. The Phillies could take a cursory look at the 41-year-old. He's making $3.9 million this season, but any acquiring team would be responsible only for the pro-rated major-league minimum of $414,000.
Rhodes' stats are not particularly good, but his numbers against lefties were decent. Lefthanded batters hit .216 off Rhodes this season as opposed to the .333 clip from righthanded hitters. Control is an issue. He struck out seven lefties and walked five.
The Phillies have just one lefthander in their current bullpen and that is setup man Antonio Bastardo. Juan Perez was optioned Saturday, leaving the Phillies without a situational lefty. They may not ever need one, but Rhodes could come in for a two-month trial at a low cost to see if he can offer any value come October.
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