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This is not a must-win game for the Phillies, by definition. (I have little faith this will prevent the broadcasters from calling it just that.) But it's still a key game for them to win.

Being the first seed gives Philadelphia home field advantage – on paper. But that's only if the series goes to a full seven games. Lose tonight's game, and the Phillies would have to win two out of three in San Francisco in order for the series to come back to Philly. So if they can't pull through tonight, they've squandered much of their home field advantage to start the series and dug themselves into a big (but not insurmountable) hole.

The good news for the Phillies faithful? The difference between Tim Lincecum and Jonathan Sanchez is greater than the difference between Doc Halladay and Roy Oswalt. That gives them slightly better odds than they had in Saturday night's game, favored at 56.85% by our PECOTA-driven estimates, compared to 43.15% for Los Gigantes. A look at how the Giants hitters project against Oswalt:

 

Hitter

AVG

OBP

SLG

Andres Torres

0.252

0.300

0.425

Freddy Sanchez

0.295

0.323

0.458

Aubrey Huff

0.277

0.325

0.475

Buster Posey

0.276

0.317

0.462

Pat Burrell

0.248

0.322

0.444

Juan Uribe

0.258

0.291

0.447

Cody Ross

0.259

0.304

0.447

Pablo Sandoval

0.290

0.324

0.474

And the Phillies against Sanchez:

 

Hitter

AVG

OBP

SLG

Jimmy Rollins

0.287

0.367

0.494

Shane Victorino

0.286

0.369

0.479

Chase Utley

0.280

0.393

0.495

Ryan Howard

0.242

0.356

0.455

Jayson Werth

0.250

0.372

0.441

Raul Ibanez

0.267

0.358

0.465

Carlos Ruiz

0.277

0.378

0.462

Placido Polanco

0.307

0.370

0.481

So the Phillies are favored to win tonight and even up the series – but not by a lot.