Just Like the 2010 NLCS, Only With Zero Excitement

Just Like the 2010 NLCS, Only With Zero Excitement

In Game 3 of the 2010 NLCS, Matt Cain outdueled Cole Hamels for a 3-0 win on a night where there was scant offense from the Phillies and not a tremendous amount more from the Giants. Wednesday's 2-1 Phils loss may have looked familiar, with Cain and the Giants topping Hamels and the home side, 2-1, and the teams combining for 10 hits.

The Phillies got some bats on Cain's pitches but couldn't get them to fall, notching just four hits all night despite striking out only once. Hell the Giants even tried to give them some opportunities, with a few miscues in the field allowing Phillies baserunners. They just couldn't put anything together, save for a seventh inning Domonic Brown RBI after a laugher of a Giants error.

Anyone worried about the Phillies' autumnal offense got a bit more ammo for the trade deadline debates that have been raging this week. More on the game below.

On Tuesday night, Vance Worley found a way to make it through 9 innings last night without getting a single batter to swing and miss. Hamels got that out of the way early and often, striking out six, including three in the first two innings, all swinging. Cole would scatter three more K's over the course of his seven total innings, two of which were swinging, and the third was on a Cain bunt attempt going foul.

Unfortunately, Hamels didn't get any support tonight. Aaron Rowand put the Giants ahead with an RBI triple in the third, and Nate Schierholtz knocked in Jeff Keppinger in what looked like a dangerous top of the seventh (particularly for Brown, who dove awkwardly for the ball and missed). But after Cole hit catcher Eli Whiteside with a pitch, he got Cain to pop out and Rowand to GIDP, ending the threat.

The Phillies stole one back in the bottom of the seventh when a Shane Victorino high pop in the infield was botched by Cain and Whiteside failing to call each other off, and the ball rolling well into foul territory. Vic ran all the way to second on it, then made it home when Dom Brown chopped a single past Aubrey Huff and into left. That'd be it for the runs though.

With two outs and a runner on second in the seventh, Brad Lidge came in to relieve Hamels. Lidge couldn't get Jeff Keppinger to bite on a slider with two strikes and ended up walking him, but he came back to K Cody Ross on a high fastball. Ross had a pair of strikeouts on the night, even throwing his bat wildly into the stands on a Hamels buckler, so at least he didn't reprise his NLCS performance.

In the bottom of the eighth, the Phils got some more fortune from the Giants' fielders, with pinch hitter Ross Gload getting aboard despite flying out after catcher's interference was called. Again though, despite being spotted the baserunner, the Phils failed to do anything in the frame.

Antonio Bastardo came in to throw a nasty, perfect top of the ninth, retiring the side in order with a pair of strikeouts. But in the bottom half, further reviving all sorts of disgusting NLCS nostalgia, Brian Wilson came in to face Ryan Howard (who did not strike out looking, mind you, but did get boned on a called strike that he watched), Victorino, and Raul Ibanez. He retired the side for his 32nd save, closing out the win for Cain.

Without the drama of the NLCS rematch, this would have been just your average boring ballgame, the complete antithesis of last night. Sometimes the bats just don't come out, and a good pitcher loses on a night he deserves to win. But with that drama, the Phils' possible flaws were amplified. No one in the building forgets that they came up limp in a few of the games against San Francisco last October, and these two teams could very well face off in the postseason again this year.

The offense we've seen in the month of July, including just last night against this same team, are enough to counter any overreactions and hyperbole coming out of tonight's loss. It's not likely we'll see Barry Zito if these teams meet in the playoffs though, so let's hope they get a feel for how to hit the rest of the Giants' starters before then. They have five more games against each other in the next two weeks, so I'm sure we'll be hearing plenty more about it.

Carlos Beltran will join the Giants in Philly shortly and presumably be in the lineup for tomorrow's season finale (and Pat Burrell will could be released to make room). Tim Lincecum is expected to get the start for San Fran, facing Kyle Kendrick, who will try to get the Phillies their 10th straight series win.

Photos by Matt Slocum, AP

Howie Kendrick hit by pitch twice, removed from rehab start at Triple A

Howie Kendrick hit by pitch twice, removed from rehab start at Triple A

Howie Kendrick experienced a painful rehab start on Thursday night.

Rehabbing with Triple A Lehigh Valley, Kendrick was hit by a pitch twice before being removed after the sixth inning of the IronPigs' 8-4 loss to Indianapolis at Coca-Cola Park.

Kendrick was plunked both times in the upper left arm, according to Tom Housenick of the Morning Call.

There was no update on if Kendrick was injured or taken out for precautionary reasons. Thursday marked Kendrick's second rehab start as he recovers from an oblique strain that has sidelined him since April 15.

The Phillies' leftfielder started at third base Thursday. At the start of his rehab assignment, Kendrick was expected to play four games and see time at third and first base, as well as in left field.

Kendrick made a throwing error at third on Thursday and finished 0 for 1 with a run scored. In his two games, he's 0 for 3 with two strikeouts.

Kendrick hit .333 with four doubles, a triple and five RBIs in 10 games with the Phillies prior to landing on the DL.

When he returns, he could see time at third base instead of left field if Maikel Franco continues to struggle (see story).

NBA Playoffs: LeBron James makes history as Cavaliers roll into Finals

NBA Playoffs: LeBron James makes history as Cavaliers roll into Finals

BOX SCORE

BOSTON -- LeBron James scored 35 points and passed Michael Jordan to become the NBA's all-time playoff scoring leader as the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Boston Celtics 135-102 on Thursday night to claim their third straight Eastern Conference title and a return trip to the NBA Finals.

Kyrie Irving added 24 points and Kevin Love finished with 15 for the Cavs, who never trailed and led by as many as 39 points in one of their most dominating wins of the series. The Cavs set an NBA record by winning their 13th consecutive series closeout opportunity.

Cleveland's 4-1 series' win gives it a 12-1 record this postseason and sets up a third consecutive matchup with Western Conference champion Golden State, the team it beat in the Finals last season to claim the franchise's first championship.

It will mark the seventh straight trip to the Finals for James.

Avery Bradley led Boston with 23 points.

The Cavaliers basically conceded the East's top seed to the Celtics at the end of the regular season by opting to rest its starters in advance of the playoffs. But they displayed their superiority over the final two games to wrap up the series.

After allowing the Celtics to seize the early momentum in Game 4, the Cavs barely gave them the chance in Game 5.

Led by its Big Three, Cleveland quickly built a 21-point lead in the first quarter, while getting lots of contributions from their teammates.

Love continued to knock down shots from the outside, Irving sliced his way into the lane to the rim and James got free for several of his one-handed, tomahawk dunks.

It was a very welcomed sight in Irving's case, after he rolled his left ankle in the third quarter of Cleveland's Game 4 win. He showed no signs of lingering issues, though, beating several defenders off the dribble and handing out seven assists.

Meanwhile, J.R. Smith and Kyle Korver all helped spread out Boston's defenders by connecting on several wide-open scoring opportunities.

Deron Williams, who had been quiet for most of the series, also got in on the act with a series-best 14 points for Cleveland.

The Celtics did their best to keep up, but the consistent outside shooting, bench scoring and defense they relied on to stun Cleveland in Game 3 wasn't there Thursday night.

Tip-ins
Cavaliers: James has scored 30 or more points in 11 of Cleveland's 13 games this postseason. ... Improved to 36-5 against Eastern Conference opponents in the playoffs since 2015. ... The 43 points Cleveland scored in the first quarter set a team postseason record for points in a quarter.

Celtics: Injured point guard Isaiah Thomas led his teammates in a pregame huddle before they took the court for warmups. Thomas sat out the rest of the series after aggravating a hip injury in Game 2. ... Held a pregame moment of silence for the victims of the Manchester bombing. ... Were whistled for 16 fouls in the first half.