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Mark Townsend

Five reasons to believe in the San Francisco Giants

Mark Townsend
Big League Stew

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You don't have to go far to find someone who's picking the Philadelphia Phillies over the San Francisco Giants.

But not so fast, I say.

Although I'm not prepared to make any crazy guarantees that the Giants sweep the series in four or even win it at all, I have seen enough from them against the National League West and against the Philliles to believe they can make this thing very, very interesting.

Here are five reasons why Giants fan like this one can feel comfortable needling the national media for not thinking twice before picking Philadelphia in a walk:

1. The Giants were the only team in baseball to record wins over Roy Halladay(notes), Roy Oswalt(notes) and Cole Hamels(notes) in 2010: Not that I would have expected the Giants to be intimidated by the Phillies' big three, but their successful track record suggests they should actually come in pretty confident.

The loss for Halladay was his first as a member of the Phillies. It came all the way back on April 26, which is an eternity in baseball time. But hey, it is still something they accomplished. And to be honest. it's a little more impressive that they defeated him before they had Pat Burrell(notes), Buster Posey(notes) or Cody Ross in their regular lineup.

Their two wins over Roy Oswalt occurred when he was still a member of the Houston Astros. Tim Lincecum(notes) was the winner in both, holding that punchless offense scoreless over 15 innings. Once Oswalt arrived in Philly, his new teammates did a number on Barry Zito(notes) and got him a win. Unfortunately for Oswalt, Barry Zito probably won't be making any starts in this series.

In his two matchups with the Giants, former World Series MVP Cole Hamels went 0-1 with a 7.36 ERA. I'll go out on a limb and say he'll be better than that in this series.

2. Jonathan Sanchez(notes): Starting pitching is obviously the Giants' strength and everyone knows about Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain(notes). But the Giants scheduled Game 2 starter is on the roll of his career heading into the NLCS, if he can steal the start from Roy Oswalt, the Giants will be in good shape heading into the three games at AT&T Park.

From the San Jose Mercury News

"The last six or seven weeks, this guy has had great concentration and focus," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "He has confidence. He realizes how good his stuff is and that he can be his own worst enemy. And if he has to pitch out of a jam, he's keeping his poise out there. He doesn't get unraveled."

Sanchez also already owns two victories over the Phillies in 2010 — the one over Roy Halladay and another over Cole Hamels. If he gets two more wins in the next seven games, there's a good chance the Giants will be moving on.

3. They're a solid road team: It's not an easy accomplishment to finish a season with a winning record on the road. In fact, only four teams in the National League accomplished it this season — the Phillies and Giants are two of those four.

San Francisco continued their solid road play into the playoffs winning those two tight games in Atlanta. Obviously playing in Philadelphia is a whole different experience against an opponent that's playing on a higher level than Atlanta, but the surroundings shouldn't be a factor.

4. Buster Posey: Difference. Maker.

We know Posey's going to need help. He's going to need Andres Torres(notes) and others getting on base ahead of him. He's going to need a motivated Pat Burrell behind him producing. If he gets that, though, he's could be hoisting some hardware en route to San Francisco for Game 1 of the World Series. He was 6-for-16 with a double, three runs and one RBI against the Braves.

5. Why not?: As they explained over at McCovey Chronicles, it doesn't always make sense how or why the Giants win baseball games in 2010, but the bottom line is they always find themselves in a position to take advantage of every break that goes their way. A bounce here or a bounce there and they can be in control of the series.

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