Coming off one of the most dramatic wins in franchise history (if not THE most), the Phillies take on the Dodgers tonight in Game 5 of the NLCS, looking for their second straight trip to the World Series.
There will no doubt be a tremendous energy in the dugout and in the stands, after Game 4's incredible finish. This blogger was lucky enough to be in attendance and witness Jimmy Rollins' heroics, and after seeing the crowd erupt like that, I do not envy the Dodgers, who have to endure that crowd once again just two days later.
With a 3-1 series lead, the odds are in Philadelphia's favor, but this is still a pivotal game. A win here would allow the team to rest and get its rotation in order for the World Series (where they would most likely face the Yankees). A loss would hardly be devastating, as the Phillies would have two more chances to win the series, would it could potentially swing the momentum, as the final two games of the series would be played in LA.
This is also an important game for Cole Hamels, who has hardly been the pitcher who dominated last October. Pitching at home with a chance to close out the series, Hamels has a good opportunity to bounce back and get himself on track for the World Series.
The Phillies will have to hope he can do so because, aside from Cliff Lee, there are question mark in the Philadelphia rotation right now. Pedro Martinez was fantastic in his Game 2 start, but is he going to be able to do that against a more potent Yankees/Angels offense? Can he do it against an AL lineup, DH and all? Meanwhile, neither Blanton nor Happ were dominant in their starts, not that they were terrible either.
The Phillies have the offensive firepower to beat any team on a given night, but a dominant Cole Hamels could make the team a shoo-in to repeat as World Champions. We'll see if Hamels can get back to form tonight.