NLCS Notes: Why did Jimmy Rollins not steal second last night?

When Brian Wilson struck out Ryan Howard to end the sixth and final game of the NLCS last night, I immediately thought of Carlos Beltran’s looking K against the Cardinals to end Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS and the question that Phillies fans will be asking all offseason, “Why didn’t he swing?” Others have made the same remark in the press.

However, just as puzzling to be was the Phillies failure to give Jimmy Rollins the chance to steal second base in the ninth last night. When Kevin Millar of the Red Sox walked in the ninth inning of Game 4 of the ALCS with his team facing elimination against the Yankees, the Sox put Dave Roberts into the game as a pinch runner. As reiterated in Ken Burns’ recent Tenth Inning, everyone at Fenway knew that Roberts was going to steal second. And after three pickoff attempts by Mariano Rivera, he did. The rest, of course, is history. Rollins reached base in a nearly identical situation last night, and I was certain that he would attempt to steal second. And yet he didn’t. Granted, the Phillies did eventually get a runner to second base in the inning, but that didn’t happen until there were two outs when Howard walked to the plate and back to the dugout after having watched strike three graze the outside corner.

Some other, brief notes from last night’s game:

  • Opposing second baseman have had a very tough time in the field against the Giants this postseason. Will Ian Kinsler fare any better?
  • The benches cleared last night because Jonathan Sanchez and Chase Utley have a history. Joe Buck didn’t not mention that until much later in the game after his producer alerted him.
  • Tim Lincecum’s appearance had me worried not so much for the Giants, but for his arm and the future of his career. Fortunately, he didn’t last long. We’ll see how he fares on Wednesday’s Game 1 against Texas after five days of rest, excepting yesterday’s appearance.
  • Roy Oswalt threw back-to-back pitches at 67 mph and 94 mph—that’s an incredible 27 mph speed differential, and he was frequently in the 20-24 mph differential range.
  • Keep in mind that Sanchez was removed from the game after the fight in the third inning. He was not ejected or injured. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a pitcher knocked out of the game in the second of a game that ended with his team winning 3-2. For all the troubles the Giants’ bullpen has had this postseason, they really came through yesterday. Granted, it was one of their starters, Madison Bumgarner, pitching on short rest, who got them through some critical innings in the middle of the game.
  • This is an interview with Giants’ closer Brian Wilson, and this is Rangers’ pitcher C.J. Wilson’s Twitter feed.
  • Do players bring their own ski goggles for post-game celebrations? Or does the team purchase a huge lot of them that are just sitting on a table when they enter the locker room?

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