posted on October 15, 2012 06:24
NLCS Game 1: Random Observations And Stuff
I’m writing this like five minutes after the completion of the game, so I’m still untightening my bryceharper.
But, I’ll try and write with some perspective and leave the Prisoner of The Moment stranded on Alcatraz.
So…with that…we begin:
If someone would’ve told you Madison Bumgarner was only going to 3.2 IP and give up six runs, at what percentage would you have put the likelihood of a Cardinal win? 90%? A little higher if you knew it was 6-0 when he exited?
On the other hand, if someone would’ve told you Lance Lynn only lasted 3.2 innings and gave up four runs, at what percentage would you have put the likelihood of a Cardinal win? 20%? 30%? Or maybe since you know the Cardinals enjoy making things difficult and then heartfucking the opposition, you’d still go 90%.
The Cardinals escaped with a 6-4 win last night, and they did so despite Lance Lynn going from a no-hitter entering the bottom of the fourth to out of the game by the end of it.
Much like Friday night in Washington, I would’ve liked to have seen Mike Matheny get a reliever up quicker, but other than that, the Cardinal manager used his bullpen perfectly, and the pitchers executed in the same fashion.
The bullpen had to pitch 5.1 innings, and in doing so---with a batshit AT & T Park firmly believing the Giants would be the second team in 48 hours to come back from a 6-0 playoff deficit---they allowed just two hits, two walks, and no runs.
It was the first time in LCS history that both starters pitched fewer than four innings.
It was the third time in five games it’s happened to the Cardinals.
That is something to be concerned about.
Now, one of those guys is done for the year (Jaime Garcia), but Lance Lynn has thrown a lot as of late and not looked particularly good…and Adam Wainwright acknowledged to the Post-Dispatch yesterday that he’d be lying if he said he was the same guy he was a couple of years ago…or the same guy he thinks he’ll be in a year.
Another note of not-so-positive observation before we get to slobbering all over the Cardinals is the fact that the Giants’ bullpen absolutely shut the Cardinals down. They did better than the Cardinal bullpen.
5.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 5 K, 1 BB…in only 65 pitches.
What in the world happened?
Now, you may say, “Well, the Cardinals did the same to the Giants.”
You’d be correct.
However, the Cardinal lineup---I think most people would agree---is a better lineup than the Giants’. If San Francisco is going to beat the Cardinals, it’s going to be because of their pitching…not their hitting.
And…also…if San Francisco is going to beat the Cardinals, they’re going to have to win a game in St. Louis.
If Chris Carpenter has his way, it’ll be two games they’ll have to win in St. Louis.
Game 1 is an odd game to attempt to break down, because there really isn’t that much to break down.
The bullpens wound up pitching the vast majority of the game, but the outcome was determined early. The Cardinals unloaded on Bumgarner which, as Bernie Miklasz pointed out before the game, maybe shouldn’t have been that surprising.
@miklasz: Bumgarner 16-11, 3.37 ERA this season. But in last 8 starts including NLDS...2-5, 6.15 ERA.
So, along those lines, which direction is Vogelsong trending?
Well, he carried a 3.37 ERA in the regular season with a 1.23 WHIP.
Pretty impressive, but…
…he had a 6.32 ERA in August and a 6.46 ERA in September.
However, since August 1st, his last four starts have been his best (22 IP and 2 ER). Well, his best with one exception. He pitched the Giants to a 15-0 victory over the Cardinals on August 8th and went seven innings allowing no runs.
But, in between that start and September 20th, he was a mess. He didn’t allow fewer than three runs per start, but most of his outings were four, six, or even eight earned runs allowed.
I’d be curious to see what he’s done as of late to reverse that trend, because once that ball starts rolling down hill late in the season, it doesn’t stop.
Suffice it say, this is a monster start for Vogelsong.
On the other hand, it’s a hell of an opportunity for the Cardinals.
If you can recall 10 years ago when the Cardinals played the Giants in the NLCS, San Francisco came in here as an underdog. The Cardinals had just swept the defending World Champion Diamondbacks out of the NLDS…and they were firing on all cylinders. But, the Giants won the first two at Busch Stadium, and that was about all she wrote. The Cardinals were done in five.
Same deal in 2000.
The Cardinals had the momentum of sweeping the Braves…and the Mets came to town and won the first two at Busch Stadium. The Cardinals were done in five that year as well.
The premise is it’s incredibly difficult for a team to come back from an 0-2 deficit after losing the first two at home. As a matter of fact, since my baseball memory began in 1982, the only time I can recall the Cardinals winning the first two on the road and losing the series is 1985. It’s a murderous kick in the balls for a team to have to go on the road down 0-2.
For example, at this point, who’s expecting the Yankees to win that series with the Tigers?
Get the win tonight…and you’re putting yourself in a hell of a spot…and the Giants in a hell of a corner. On the other hand, if they lose Game 2, it’s 1-1 with Matt Cain on the mound for Game 3 in St. Louis. Of course, the Cardinals will counter with Kyle Lohse, so I wouldn’t write that one off by any means.
Going into this series, I wondered if the Cardinals would carry the momentum from Friday night in and just bury the Giants. Like a 2004 Red Sox deal after coming back to beat the Yankees in the ALCS. The first few innings lent itself to that theory. Then the Giants responded…and it reminded me that the Giants had some sick momentum themselves by making history of their own in coming back against the Reds.
But, with Beltran and Freese hitting like they have in their postseason histories (Beltran’s sample size being much larger…but that intangible of being a guy who rises to the occasion is back in year two for Freese), and with Daniel Descalso and Pete Kozma continuing to contribute, there shouldn’t be a weak spot in the Cardinal lineup.
Bad games can happen. Great starting pitching can silence them. Or, batshit strike zones (see Washington Game 4) can take over a game.
But, the Cardinals have played seven games now in the playoffs, and they’ve done some raking in five of the seven games.
On the other hand, considering how good the rotation had been, it’s a concern right now.
The thing is…just like last year…and just like 2006…young arms are emerging in October and bridging the gap from a starter’s hell to a Cardinal victory.
The Cardinals have had three games of seven in which their starter lasted four innings or fewer.
They’ve won them all.
Trevor Rosenthal and Joe Kelly are delivering at a critical time…and I wouldn’t mind seeing Shelby Miller get a shot if a game gets out of hand one way or the other. That’s how Matheny got comfortable with Rosenthal (Game 2 of the NLDS in a blowout). Adding Miller to that two-headed-monster-of-heat would make it even more deadly.
Last year it was Boggs, Lynn, and Motte.
In 2006 it was Josh Kinney, Randy Flores, Tyler Johnson, and Adam Wainwright.
You need a guy to emerge in October…but over the last few Octobers, the Cardinals have had a number of people go from relative obscurity to playing crucial roles.
The trend is continuing this year.
Young arms. Clutch hitting. Ridiculous defense. Their best baseball right at the end of the year. Once again, they’re firing on all cylinders again at the right time.
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