"I thought he threw the ball well," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "I thought he did a good job. Johnny's been probably as good as anybody on our staff the last six weeks. I thought he did a nice job in Game 2."
Sanchez has been a very nice roll of late.
There was a victory over the Padres in a crucial game on the final day of the season in San Francisco that clinched the National League West title. On Oct. 10 in Atlanta, Sanchez wasn't the winner, but he turned in an excellent 7 1/3 innings of two-hit ball in a pivotal Game 3 of an NL Division Series the Giants won in four games.
Until this past Sunday at Citizens Bank Park, Sanchez had been major pain for the Phillies all season.
During their only Philly trip of the regular season for a three-game series on Aug. 17-19, the Giants lost the first two games of the series by a combined score of 17-5. Bochy gave the ball to Sanchez for the final game of the series.
That day, Sanchez pitched eight innings of two-hit, one-run ball, striking out seven and walking two as the Giants defeated Cole Hamels, 5-2.
Overall, Sanchez was 2-0 in his two starts this season against the Phillies, allowing only two runs on five hits.
Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said his club tried a different approach against Sanchez in the NLCS.
"Basically from what I saw, the success we had against him was when we tried to make him bring the ball up, especially when he got ahead of us in the count," Manuel recalled Thursday. "He's got good command of his stuff and he throws a good slider. Usually to right-handed hitters, it breaks down toward the back knee. He keeps the ball down good. We were a little bit more patient and we got some better pitches to hit than we usually do. But he pitched good. I felt like he pitched a pretty good, strong game against us."
Sanchez has fought wildness in his career, particularly earlier in the season. He was 13-9 in 33 starts, but allowed 142 hits and 96 walks in 193 1/3 innings for a WHIP (walks plus hits in innings pitched) of 1.23. At the same time, opposing hitters batted .204 against him.
Of his 13 wins, four came in his last six starts.
Sanchez recently said that he started pitching more aggressively later in the season and that was the reason for his increased success.
"Just being aggressive in the strike zone ... trying to get first-pitch strikes and then just get ahead [in the count] with my breaking balls," he said.
Bochy agreed that the difference was more substance than style.
"He really didn't make any adjustment in his delivery as much as stopping from trying to overthrow, throw too hard, do too much," Bochy added. "Just stay in his delivery, and that's his focus. That's what's helped him with his command. At times he would fly open, trying to add a little bit to his fastball. And sometimes going for strikeouts, he tried to power his way through the lineup. He got away from that and became a more complete pitcher."