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PHILADELPHIA -- Officially, it is Game 2 of the best-of-five National League Division Series, but unofficially, Thursday's meeting is a must-win game for Philadelphia.
It's a must-win for the Phillies not only because home-field advantage has now switched to Colorado by virtue of the Rockies' 4-2 victory in Game 1, but because historically a team losing Game 1 of a Division Series at home with its ace going usually doesn't make it to the next round. And of course, no team wants to be down 0-2 in a best-of-five before hitting the road.
By losing Wednesday at Citizens Bank Park with All-Star left-hander Cole Hamels on the mound, the Phillies suddenly find themselves in a predicament faced by several teams in recent years, and the track record is not encouraging from a Philadelphia standpoint.
In recent Division Series history, losing at home with your ace has been the kiss of death for playoff teams:
Last year, St. Louis and Chris Carpenter beat San Diego ace Jake Peavy at PETCO Park in Game 1 of the NLDS. The Cardinals advanced and went on to win the World Series.
Oakland and Barry Zito surprised Johan Santana at the Metrodome in Game 1 of their ALDS last season. The Twins were swept in three games.
In the NLDS two years ago, Houston and Andy Pettitte beat Tim Hudson and the Braves at Turner Field in Game 1. A year earlier, the Astros surprised 15-game winner Jaret Wright in a Game 1 win at Turner Field. The Astros went on to the next round each year.
Now the Phillies will see if they can come back in a short series after losing at home with their best pitcher. At least they can take some comfort in the knowledge that they have been a very resilient team this season.
"No doubt at all, we're going to put this game behind us, learn from our mistakes and come out [Thursday] ready to go," second baseman Chase Utley said. "Everyone knows we've had a big up-and-down year; the thing that's stayed the same is our attitude and our positivity. And we're going to continue with that."
Thursday's matchup will feature a pair of rookie starters: Colorado's Franklin Morales and Philadelphia's Kyle Kendrick.
"We've had confidence in him all year long and there's no reason not to be confident in him going into [Thursday's] game," Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins said of his teammate.
Colorado manager Clint Hurdle has his team in an enviable position, but realizes it is still just one game.
"But I would think it would beat the heck out of losing Game 1, and from there, I mean, our focus from start till now has just been, you know what we're going to do tomorrow, we're going to show up and get ready to win a game tomorrow," Hurdle said after Wednesday's victory. "That's what we're going to do. Obviously, this is a venue that provides some challenges. But we've come in here a couple different times and held our own. Our team plays with a lot of confidence and they play with a slow heartbeat, so I don't expect it to be much different tomorrow."
Rollins said the Phillies, too, are looking forward to Game 2.
"We've got another chance," Rollins said. "No one was surprised, no one felt overpowered, we just didn't come up with the big hits, so we're looking forward to [Thursday]."
The National League's two best offenses combined for just six runs and 10 hits in the series opener. Don't expect the low scoring to continue.
"Game 1, somebody has to win, somebody has to lose; this time it was us," Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard said. "But it's not a slow start. You know one game, if the series was over, it would be horrible, but if we win the next three, we won't be having to talk about this one anymore."
First pitch is scheduled for 3:07 p.m. ET.