The Phillies may be trailing the Giants going into Game Six of the National League Championship Series, but they'll have several things on their side when the game begins Saturday at 7:30 p.m. ET on FOX. Philadelphia will have postseason experience, intangibles and home-field advantage on its side, and if veteran starter Roy Oswalt can continue his recent trajectory, it may also have momentum.
Oswalt has been incredible since joining the Phillies in a midseason trade from the Astros, notching a 7-1 record and a 1.74 ERA down the stretch of the regular season. Oswalt won his start in Game 2 of the NLCS, but after taking the loss in an odd relief appearance during Game 4, Oswalt may be even more motivated to come out and pitch to the best of his abilities.
(Opposing view: Why the Giants will win Game 6)
San Francisco saw what that was like in Game 2, when Oswalt threw eight innings to outduel Jonathan Sanchez. Game 6 will see the same pitching matchup in the same stadium -- Citizens Bank Park -- and it will feature a Phillies club with its back against the wall. Philadelphia, the two-time defending NL champions, hopes to keep from passing the torch on its home field.
And if the Phillies are able to come back off the canvas, they'll need to continue holding down the San Francisco offense. The Giants have hit just .220 through the first five games of the series, and Cody Ross has all three of their home runs. Philadelphia, by contrast, has hit just .209, and infielders Jimmy Rollins and Placido Polanco have combined for nine of their 16 RBIs.
The Phillies have actually outscored the Giants (18-16) in this series, and they outpaced them by nearly a half-run in the regular season. Now, they're hanging in the series despite dismal production from regulars Shane Victorino and Chase Utley, both of whom are hitting under .200. Bet on Utley, who hit five home runs in last year's World Series, to break out.
Ryan Howard, the team's cleanup hitter, will need to continue his steady metronomic presence in the middle of the lineup. The big first baseman is batting .294 with three doubles in this series and has also drawn three walks, but he's only scored once in five games. The Phillies will have to hope that he can keep getting on base and that they can find someone to push him home.
And then there's Citizens Bank Park, it of the biggest home-field advantages in the league. The Phillies went 54-30 at home this season, and they also logged the highest home attendance figure in the NL at more than 3.7 million fans. Philadelphia had 94 homers at home and 72 on the road this season, a big stat to consider when the series can turn on any run.
The home team is 3-2 in this series thus far, and three of the five games have been decided by two runs or fewer. The Phillies haven't played from behind much in the postseason over the past few years, and they can add another impressive line to their legacy with a comeback. Now, it's time to see their mettle tested again against a worthy competitor.