x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Pitched battle as Halladay and Lincecum hold key

The opening game matches Philadelphia's contender Roy Halladay against the pitcher who won the Cy Young Award the past two years.

The opening game of the National League Championship series matches Philadelphia's Roy Halladay, the favourite to win this year's Cy Young Award as the league's best pitcher, against San Francisco's Tim Lincecum, the pitcher who won the award the past two years.

"It's going to be fun," Pablo Sandoval, the Giants third baseman, said. "They have one of the best pitchers in the National League and we have one of the best pitchers on our team."

Halladay pitched a no-hitter against Cincinnati in the Phillies' opening game of the play-offs. Lincecum pitched a two-hitter with 14 strikeouts in the Giants' first game against Atlanta.

"We'll see what happens these first two games. It's going to be a hyped-up crowd," said Lincecum, who faced the Phillies in his major league debut on May 30, 2007.

"They're the team to beat. They've been there before and they're there again."

Bruce Bochy, the San Francisco manager, said he will adjust his rotation for this series, moving up Jonathan Sanchez, the left-hander, to Game 2. He said he wants break up the two right-handers - Lincecum and Matt Cain, who now is set to pitch Game 3 in San Francisco.

"It gives Matt the home opener here," Bochy said. "That's the way we're leaning right now. We have confidence in both of them but we really think to break up the righties and lefties is a better way to go."

Bochy said he did not anticipate any line-up changes against the Phillies though the teams have until this morning to set their rosters.

"They've got tremendous talent - pitching, a great offence," Bochy said. "You've got to play your best ball to beat them. I like where we're at. I like the way the guys are playing."