posted on October 15, 2011 01:00
Game Five Rambling Observations And Stuff
I usually don't write on the weekends, but since we're talking NLCS here...I'll spit some "knowledge."
-Well, if you have been listening to the show and/or reading my columns, you know that few things have made me as batshit as Tony La Russa failing to pull Jaime Garcia against the Phillies in Game Three when he was clearly losing it...and then repeating history in Game One of the NLCS by letting him stay in there and give up a a 2R 2B to Ryan Braun and a 2R home run to Prince Fielder.
I was in shock the first time. I nearly passed out the second time.
And, sure enough...we had a third time.
Except this time...La Russa pulled Garcia.
In a move that was surprisingly criticized on the TBS call of the game and by David Wells on their post-game show, La Russa did the right thing---even if Braun would've hit a home run---by pulling Garcia after 4.2 IP.
Honestly, in my opinion, it was a no-brainer.
And, I think for Cardinal fans who have seen his implosions---and how quickly they occur---most felt it was an obvious move.
So, I'm kind of surprised that the guys calling the game didn't feel the same way. But, whatever works. Octavio Dotel has dominated Ryan Braun (somehow), and that was the move to make as Garcia was giving up first pitch hits leading into Braun...just like Sunday in Game One.
I'm of the opinion that if La Russa pulls Garcia in Game Three against the Phillies, it never gets to a Game Five. And, I'm of the opinion that if La Russa pulls Garcia in Game One, there's a *chance* that last night was a clincher. I don't feel like Game One of the NLCS was as open and shut of a case of a surefire victory as I did with Philadelphia...but I felt like the move was more obvious than the one in the NLDS.
Either way, even if Dotel would've given up a home run to Braun, I still would've complimented La Russa on the move. It pissed off Garcia, based on his pissy exit to the dugout and clubhouse...but too bad. It's about winning games. You can stay out there if you don't go batshit when the chips are down.
-Huge...and quite honestly, kind of surprising...to see Matt Holliday go on the recent tear he has gone on. Five hits over the last two games. I thought he was on fumes with his injury after an ugly Game Three. Glad I was wrong. He ripped the baseball last night.
-Also huge, but not as surprising, to see Yadier Molina get three hits. When I looked at the lineup pre-game, I was a little concerned about a potential offensive abyss with the bottom of the lineup featuring Molina, Nick Punto, and Jaime Garcia. But, Molina delivered...and Punto hit the ball hard and was robbed by Jerry Hairston but also dropped down a fine sacrifice. And, Garcia came through with making contact in two key situations...one time getting a huge break when Hairston let the ball through his legs...and when Betancourt didn't throw home on his ground out.
-How about the bullpen? What else can you say? Dotel, Lance Lynn, Mark Rzepczynski, and Jason Motte. Just amazing what's going on with this group. As Lance Berkman said after the game, "You can't give out postseason awards at this point, but if you could, and you could give out one to a group, it'd have to be the bullpen."
-I'm sure some people were wondering why Lance Lynn was hitting in the bottom of the seventh. The answer, in my opinion, is because Fernando Salas wasn't available after throwing the last two nights...and La Russa didn't want to go with Mitchell Boggs or Kyle McClellan.
-So...in order for the Brewers to win the National League pennant, they have to win with Shaun Marcum Sunday...and they have to beat Chris Carpenter on Monday. I'm surprised that Ron Roenicke is going with Marcum. I wouldn't go with Yovani Gallardo on short rest. I would've avoided pitching Chris Narveson last night...and had him go Sunday. I think it's a mistake on Roenicke's part, and if I were a Brewers' fan, I wouldn't be happy about it. But, as a Cardinal fan, I'm glad that Marcum is back out there...as he's been really bad over the last month...and the Cardinals crushed him in Game Two.
-Did Nyjer Morgan intentionally spike Albert Pujols when he crossed first base...after grounding into a double play?
-And, what about Carlos Gomez? Another clown. I guess if you play CF for Milwaukee, you are required to act like a jackass. Gomez gets a base hit in the second inning. He behaves like a lunatic for a little while before Matt Holliday throws the ball back into the infield. Then, he gets picked off. Clownfest. And, as he slides into Furcal on the play at second, he slides so late that he goes a few feet past the bag. Hmmm. Clowns.
-Speaking of hmmm...Milwaukee is hitting .229 on the road in the playoffs, but they're hitting .278 at home. They've hit seven home runs at home. Three on the road. And, they've scored 28 runs at home in five games, while they've only scored 15 on the road in five games.
-I'm not taking anything for granted in this thing. I was freaked out---because I'm psycho---when I heard people talking like it was a done deal that the Cardinals would win this series after winning Game Three. At this point, I do think the Cardinals are the better team, but I thought the Phillies were the better team as well. With that out there...if the Cardinals are to win this thing, doing so on Sunday would be huge for a number of reasons. But, from a World Series perspective, your rotation is set up incredibly well...using guys on proper rest and in their best environments:
Game One at Busch Stadium Wednesday: Carpenter
Game Two at Busch Stadium Thursday: Garcia
Game Three at Texas/Detroit Saturday: Jackson
Game Four at Texas/Detroit Sunday: Lohse
Game Five at Texas/Detroit Monday: Carpenter
Game Six at Busch Stadium Wednesday: Garcia
Game Seven at Busch Stadium Thursday: Jackson
You lose Sunday, and it throws everything off. Carpenter can't start until Game Three...but Garcia would have to start Game Five on the road...although quite honestly, I'm not sure La Russa would even mess with that at this point. Either way, he'd have to screw with the rotation for Game One if Carpenter has to throw Monday night in a Game Seven.
-Bottom line: while it freaks me out to talk about the World Series when there's still work to be done, the Cardinals have both match-ups in their favor for Games Six and Seven. And, they've played the best of any National League team at Miller Park. Since Game One's misery, La Russa has pulled the strings beautifully in getting his starters out of the game. When you have a deep bullpen, you can afford to do this, so it's a credit to him for the set-up of the roster...because he's got the depth to have the bullpen carry the pitching staff. This thing really could be/should be over already...and I'd focus on Game One more than Game Four as the missed opportunity, but both of them were there for the taking. The Brewers, on the other hand, were blown off the field in Game Two and handled pretty easily---part of it their own doing---in Game five, and the two games they've won, they've had to rally from defecits. The trends are in the Cardinals' favor, which is scary, because that's usually not been the case this year. But, despite all of it, here they are...one win away from the World Series.
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