Playing in a hitter-friendly ballpark frequently compared to little more than a bandbox, Giants pitchers surrendered nine runs while splitting the first two games of the National League Championship Series against the Philadelphia Phillies.
Now they’ll get a chance to improve that performance in a ballpark notoriously less welcoming to batters.
With its spacious outfield dimensions, including a 30-foot wall looming over the deepest part of right-centerfield (a daunting 421 feet away from home plate), AT&T Park is a far cry from the cozier confines of Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park, which has yielded an average of 2.60 homers per game since it opened in 2004, the third-highest rate in the majors over that time span.
Phillies batters excelled this season at Citizens Bank Park, knocking out 94 homes runs while helping their team to a league-best 54 home wins.
The story was notably different in road games, as Philly hitters combined to whack just 72 homers and won 11 less games away from their home ballpark.
As well as having to deal with tougher hitting conditions, Philly outfielders also must adjust to the expansive outfield settings at AT&T Park. How their fielders respond to balls in play will be a major factor in deciding this series, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said.
“I think it gets down to the fact that you definitely can’t make mistakes in the outfield,” Manuel said. “I think if you do, you’re going to be in trouble.”
While the Giants’ power numbers suffered at home — they hit 75 homers at AT&T Park, 12 fewer than they did on the road — the team excelled in San Francisco, posting a 49-32 home record. Matt Cain, the Game 3 starter, has been particularly effective at home, notching an 8-4 record with a 2.93 ERA. He was just 5-7 on the road.
“It’s definitely exciting to be able to start off these three games at home,” Cain said. “It will be fun to be able to get this thing started in front of our home crowd.”
Different type of park
87 Home runs the Giants hit on the road this season
75 Home runs the Giants hit at home this season
94 Home runs the Phillies hit at home this season
72 Home runs the Phillies hit on the road this season
1 Home runs the Phillies hit in three regular-season games at AT&T Park in 2010
3 Home runs the Giants hit in three regular-season games vs. the Phillies at AT&T Park in 2010