NLCS Game 3 Preview

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In game three of the NLCS, the Los Angeles Dodgers (1-1) will play the Philadelphia Phillies (1-1) . Hiroki Kuroda, RHP starts vs. Cliff Lee, LHP .

The National League Championship Series moves to Philadelphia after the Phillies and Dodgers split the first two games. The first game featured home runs from Carlos Ruiz and Raul Ibanez. Despite a stellar performance by Pedro Martinez, the Phillies blew a 1-0 lead thanks to a throwing error by Chase Utley. After an off day, the series returns with Hiroki Kuroda and Cliff Lee on the mound.

From one extreme to another, weather will be a factor. The weather was beautiful in Los Angeles; 93 degrees and sunny. It’ll be the complete opposite in Philly: cold and rainy. The frigid temperatures didn’t seem to bother Lee in game four of the division series. “I think that affects the hitter more than the pitcher,” Lee said.

Lee has been streaky since joining the Phillies. He went a perfect 5-0 with an ERA under one in his first five starts, but scuffled towards the end of the year posting an ERA over six. Right now, he’s in a hot streak. In 16.1 innings during the NLDS, Lee allowed only two earned runs. Lee’s only start against the Dodgers came in his Cy Young year. He pitched seven shutout innings before exiting after allowing a one-run single.

Lee has benefited from the hometown crowd, posting a 2.52 ERA at Citizens Bank Park. However, Lee will have to watch out for Manny Ramirez. Ramirez is 6-for-14 (.429) with two home runs against the lefty.

Kuroda will make his second postseason start against the Phillies, with the last coming in 2008’s NLCS. Kuroda will forever be known as the pitcher who threw at Shane Victorino’s head, but also leading the Dodgers to their lone NLCS victory that year. He pitched six innings allowing two runs in 08’s NLCS, but that is only a small portion of his success against the Phillies. In three starts, Kuroda is 1-0 with a 0.95 ERA, 0.58 WHIP and .100 BAA against the Phillies in his career. He has struck out 17 Phillies in 19 innings.

Kuroda tossed six shutout innings against the Phillies earlier this year, but there is uncertainty surrounding this start. Kuroda will be pitching for the first time in over three weeks due to a herniated disk in his neck. Kuroda also suffered an oblique injury and was hit in the head with a line drive this season.

While Manny is always a threat for the Dodgers, Ruiz has been the biggest threat this postseason. Ruiz is 7-for-18 (.389) with a home run, six RBI, and a stolen base during the 2009 playoffs.

“I’ve got all the faith in the world in our team. It’s going to be a good series, guys. This series by no means is over. It’s going to be a tough series,” Charlie Manuel said.

Break out the rally towels. Home-field advantage starts now.

Tonight’s Lineup: Rollins (SS), Victorino (CF), Utley (2B), Howard (1B), Werth (RF), Ibanez (LF), Feliz (3B), Ruiz (C), Lee (P).


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