Game Four Ramblings And Observations And HotShots' Picks

Not much to say about this one.

Similar to the series...for the most part...it was slow and blah.

It's the first game of the playoffs since Game One of the NLDS that I feel like the Cardinals deserved to lose.

And, this isn't even "fun" to talk about, because there's no one to really...when it gets down to it..."blame." I give Randy Wolf credit. But, it's not like he was as good as his numbers indicate. The Cardinals had opportunities. They just didn't capitalize...once again. 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position. That sums it up. Boring...like the series so far...but true.

I'm sure some people want to blame Ryan Theriot. He did have the error in the top half of the sixth...and then had a really bad at-bat with Matt Holliday at third and one out.

And, I'm sure some people want to blame Kyle Lohse. The Cardinal starter had a 2-0 lead, and he was---legitimately---crusing. But, he got beat by Jerry Hairston Jr. and Yuniesky Betancourt to give up runs...and then he couldn't get right...just like his game story in Philadelphia. Crusing along...and then implosion.

Perhaps some want to blame Tony La Russa. I would disagree with that. I'd guess the reason they'd want to blame La Russa would be for not starting Lance Berkman. I wasn't certain about it one way or the other going into the game...but Allen Craig did hit a home run. You could say Craig should've played for Matt Holliday, but Holliday hit a home run, a double, and reached on a walk. Plus, after waiting too long to yank his struggling starter in Game Three of the NLDS and Game One of the NLCS, La Russa pulled Lohse early. No complaints there.

That's the thing.

The only complaints I can have are that the Cardinals had a lead...and then lost. But, it's not like they had all kinds of chances as the game moved through the middle and late innings. They had one good chance after the third...and Theriot struck out with Holliday at third and one out on a bad pitch. But, Jon Jay could've delivered afterwards, and he failed to do so.

"Cap tippers" aren't stimulating to talk about---or watch, in this one's case---but the Cardinals were fortunate it was only 4-2. It sure felt worse.

The bigger issue is that the Cardinal starting pitching has been flat-out bad in this series. Garcia. Jackson. Carpenter. Lohse. All four pitched below their standards, and all four failed to get into the sixth inning.

Lining up the final three games' match-ups, I'd give the Cardinals the edge in all of them...but I would've done the same going into Game Four.

The lingering issue is that the Cardinals keep going to the well with that bullpen, and while once again, it was pretty good last night, I wonder if any of those guys will tire by the time the end of this series rolls around.

My take?

I expect Garcia to pitch a damn good game tomorrow. He's a different cat at home. Just the way it is. And, I expect Zack Greinke to be vulnerable. He's a different cat on the road. Actually, he's just a different cat. But, he's even more of a different cat on the road.

So help me...if La Russa leaves Garcia out there to piss away another game in the middle portion, I think I'll have a coronary right on the spot.

If there was one game on the home slate that looked like it could really go the Brewers' way, it was this one...mainly because of the Randy Wolf/soft-tossing lefty factor. But, I never would've expected the Cardinals to only score two runs. And, let's be honest...Matt Holliday's ball isn't a home run 99% of the time.

So, now it's back to being tied.

I don't anticipate the pace or the quality of play to pick up. It's just a couple of lumbering teams with shaky starting pitching grinding their way into their 172nd game of the year.

But, if Garcia is who he is at home tonight, you'll know it early...because he'll be dealing quickly. But, just as quickly, potentially around the 80th pitch, he'll start to collapse. That's when La Russa needs to have someone ready and pull the trigger.

It's a shame the Cardinals can't win the pennant at home, but based on the match-ups, I'm still feeling good about their chances of advancing to the World Series. It's just going to be a gut-wrenching experience for fans of both teams. Now...it's on.

Best-of-three. No matter what, somebody's life is on the line Sunday in Milwaukee. Strap in. Strap on. And...hope that Sunday night, the Cardinals are celebrating at Miller Park.

HotShots Presents Week Seven of Football Picks

Producer Joe and I both went 3-3 last week...as we all pushed the Patriots (-9) against the Jets. @ProdJoe, who likes to speak highly of his Locks of The Week, lost his Lock with Texas A & M while I was fortunate to cover my Lock by 1/2 point with Clemson over Boston College. That improves me to 4-2 on Locks of The Week. Here's a look at where we are through six weeks:

Producer Joe: 21-16 (Overall)/3-3 (Locks of The Week)

Me: 20-17 (Overall)/4-2 (Locks of The Week)

Congratulations to Dakter for taking down the HotShots' $10 gift certificate. He won five games and the tiebreaker of total points in the Missouri-Kansas State game. This week, if you'd like to win the $10 gift certificate, pick the six games @ProdJoe and I pick, select your own Lock of The Week, and, as a tiebreaker, give us the total points on the Rams and Packers.

As I'm on a decent streak (and exhausted/lazy from going to bed at 1 a.m. during the playoffs), I'll continue to just give my team and pick...whereas Producer Joe will break it down like Hank Goldberg on a bender.

Iowa State at Missouri (-14.5)

Producer Joe: A game that unless you are in Columbia you won't see because when you play in the Big 12 you get used to getting the shaft for one thing or another.  But if you are really going to be honest about things....do you really want to watch Iowa State play anything?  I know the Tigers are 2-3 on the season but of those 3 losses the teams have a combined record of 15-1 on the season.  Thats pretty damn good.  So although the Tigers will probably struggle to find their way into a bowl game that no one has any interest in attending they will win this week for homecoming.  In fact, they will cover the number and get healthy before a stretch of games against 4 ranked teams. 
Pick: Missouri (-14.5)

Me: Pick: Missouri (-14.5)


Florida (-2) at Auburn

Producer Joe: Its a weak slate of games to be picking this week so I decided to sneak this one in because I am being lazy and trying to pound this out rather quickly.  Based on what Florida has done the past two weeks there is no reason I can think of for them to be favored on the road & I know they got beat by 2 of the 3 best teams in the country.
Pick: Auburn (+2)

Me: Pick: Florida (-2)

LSU (-17.5) at Tennessee

Producer Joe: Once again I being lazy and just wanted to complete my sweep of mascots for college football this week.
Pick: LSU (-17.5)

Me: Pick: LSU (-17.5)

Rams at Packers (-15)

Producer Joe: Sweet Jesus I have no idea how this line isn't 20+ points but I am not going to complain because I have loaded up.  Lets see....a team that hasn't covered all year, much less won a game all season, taking on the undefeated defending Super Bowl Champions on the road and the spread is only 15 points?  I am scratching my head trying to figure this shit out.  But...but...Spags led Rams teams are 2-0 ATS following a bye week, in fact they have won outright as well.  Doesn't matter.
Pick: Packers (-15)

Me: I'll comment on this one. I'm fascinated by the spread here. It's odd to me that it's only 15. I really thought it'd be close to 20. It's not so much that the Rams are bad and injured...although that's a big part of it...but because the Packers have '99 Rams'/'07 Patriots' kind of ability...especially versus the number. Let's assign probabilities. What's the probability the Rams score more than 20? I'd put that at 25%...being liberal. What's the probability that the Packers score fewers than 35? Keep in mind...Aaron Rodgers hit 12 receivers Sunday night in Atlanta...and the Rams have what...one cornerback? I'd put that probability at 33%. Those are two really favorable percentages for this spread.
Pick: Packers (-15)

Eagles (-1.5) at Redskins

Producer Joe: Get healthy week for the Eagles.  It has to happen.  Its like me continuing to bet on Tiger in every tournament he plays because I have invested so much on him it has to happen at some point.  Just like another Eagles win.  It has to happen.
Pick: Eagles (-1.5)

Me: Pick: Redskins (+1.5)

Cowboys at Patriots (-7)

Producer Joe: One team has a quarterback that is so damn up and down you never feel good about betting on him....that is until next week when the Rams visit Dallas.  The other team has a quarterback that will pick apart a weak secondary and thrown for over 300 yards with ease.  Its simple.
Pick: Patriots (-7)

Me: Pick: Patriots (-7)

Lock of The Week

Producer Joe: Saints (-4.5) at Buccaneers: LOAD.IT.UP and lock it down.  It will happen.
Pick: Saints (-4.5)

MeIndiana at Wisconsin (-39): Wow, I love this game. That's dangerous. But, it's the same rationale I applied to Clemson hosting Boston College last week. An undefeated team...with a legitimate shot at a BCS Championship...who probably won't get the shot...and therefore will beat the living shit out of the weak teams on their schedule to send a message...and because from a voter perpective, they can't afford not to.
Pick: Wisconsin (-39)

Now's your chance to make your picks for The Picks of The Week Presented by HotShots. Pick the six games Producer Joe and I have picked. Pick a separate Lock of The Week from www.scoresandodds.com. And, give us your total points on the Rams and Packers. Whoever does the best gets a $10 gift certificate to HotShots.

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# RonGant
Friday, October 14, 2011 7:53 AM
Iowa St.
Stanford -20
total pts 53
# jd
Friday, October 14, 2011 8:09 AM
Iowa St. +14.5
Auburn +2
LSU -17.5
Packers -15
Eagles -1.5
Cowboys +7
Lock of the Week: Oklahoma -35.5
MNF: 37
Friday, October 14, 2011 8:21 AM
Iowa State
LOW: Boise State by 32

MNF: 41
# GD_It!
Friday, October 14, 2011 8:25 AM
Missouri (-14.5)
Florida (-2)
Tennessee (+17.5)
Rams (+15)
Cowboys (+7)
Lock: Saints (-4.5)
MNF: 40
# cabowabo
Friday, October 14, 2011 8:32 AM
st. louisville cards
# st. louisville cards
Friday, October 14, 2011 9:13 AM
Iowa State
Stone Cold super shoe in lock of the week: Miami +3 @ UNC
Points: 52
# Pirate22man
Friday, October 14, 2011 9:39 AM
Lock: Oklahoma -35.5
Pts: 46

# robross07
Friday, October 14, 2011 9:41 AM
aub +2
lsu -17.5
philly -1.5
lock balt -8

Johnny Five
# Johnny Five
Friday, October 14, 2011 10:22 AM
Mizzou -14.5
Florida -2
LSU -17.5
GB -15
Philly -1.5
lock: Saints -4.5
pts: 50
# cpondoff
Friday, October 14, 2011 10:51 AM
1) Mizzou -14.5
2) Auburn +2
3) LSU -17.5
4) GB -15
5) Wash +1.5
6) NE -7
LOW) ILL -3.5
MNF) 29
Friday, October 14, 2011 1:53 PM
Missouri -2
Auburn +2
LSU -17.5
Packers -15
Redskins +1.5
Patriots -7
Panthers +4 at Atlanta
# MR-Q
Friday, October 14, 2011 2:31 PM
LOCK--BAMA -25.5
# itsjustme
Friday, October 14, 2011 3:20 PM
Iowa St
Fla St -12

# Dakter
Friday, October 14, 2011 4:50 PM
Iowa St +14.5
Auburn +2
LSU -17.5
Packers -15
Redskins +1.5
Cowboys +7
LOTW: Illinois -3.5
Points 45
# ricflair4h
Friday, October 14, 2011 5:02 PM
Missouri -14.5
Aburn +2
LSU -17.5
Packers -15
Redskins +1.5
Patriots -7
LOTW: Oklahoma State -7
Points: 46
Big shout out to Dakter for not only winning last week, but on the birth of his first child. Carpe Diem to the Dakter!
# BigDog
Friday, October 14, 2011 9:22 PM
LOTW Saints
# tandylow
Saturday, October 15, 2011 7:58 AM
Green Bay
Lock Alabama -24 at Ole Miss
Extra Point DJ
# Extra Point DJ
Saturday, October 15, 2011 12:26 PM
1. Mizzou -14.5
2. Auburn +2
3. LSU -17.5
4. Green Bay -15
5. Philadelphia -1.5
6. New England -7
7. Lock: Kansas St. +3.5
8. Total Pts. 51

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