posted on October 16, 2012 06:53
NLCS Game 2: Random Observations And Stuff
Once again…I’m writing this just minutes after the completion of the game.
However, I’m willing to wager all of the money I should’ve bet on Alabama that you can find approximately 300 columns on how the Giants were fired up by Matt Holliday’s slide into Marco Scutaro and how they responded with a huge win to honor their fallen teammate.
This column will not be one of those.
This column wouldn’t be one of those if it was Pablo Sandoval sliding into Daniel Descalso.
My opinion on the slide?
It’s a late slide.
No grey area.
Late slide and really a bad play by Holliday.
My opinion on its impact on the outcome?
It had none.
It may have impact on the outcome of future games…as the Giants could be without Scutaro.
But, to act like the Giants were inspired by it is, in my opinion, as wrong as saying Angel Pagan was taunting the Cardinal dugout by saluting them…when he was directly in front of the Giants’ dugout.
But, hey…whatever builds up interest and storylines. I get the Vince McMahon game.
Here’s how I look at Game 2. It’s quite simple, really:
-Ryan Vogelsong owned the Cardinals.
-Chris Carpenter was not good.
-It’s the first game this postseason that I feel like the Cardinals just flat-out got beat.
Now, I realize the above doesn’t give Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless something to talk over each other for 30 minutes, so you probably won’t hear about any of the above, but that’s how I see it.
And, isolating it on just Game 2, I can live with it.
However, here’s how I look at where things are in this series through two games:
-The Cardinals have a serious issue with the middle of the order. Matt Holliday, Allen Craig, and Yadier Molina aren’t hitting…and two of the three (Holliday and Craig) haven’t hit for the majority of the postseason. Last night…it was a cap-tipper to Vogelsong. The guy was outstanding. Outside of Beltran, nobody hit. But, it’s the first time they’ve faced a non-Jim Joyce-induced gem from a starter…and yet Holliday, Craig, and Molina haven’t hit…in particular with golden scoring opportunities. I tend to think that will turn around…but it’s incredibly concerning.
-The Giants’ offense is weak…and without Scutaro it gets even weaker. The seven runs last night and the four runs Sunday are deceptive, in my opinion. They still count. Don’t get me wrong. If they were raking, I’d tell you that. Hell, I’m sure I’ll get lit up by some for being down on Holliday’s slide, so this isn’t pro-Cardinal dogma here. But, the Giants dinked and dunked Lynn in the fourth inning Sunday…then got him with a couple shots when he was gassed. Pagan raked Carpenter, but even with Carpenter not on, it was a series of crappy little hits that led to their big inning…before Scutaro finished him off with a pitch that Carpenter called a mistake.
-But, here’s the biggest issue…and you can sit in the Bay Area and stroke yourself all day to paintings of Marco Scutaro…or you sit in San Francisco---or St. Louis for that matter---and condemn Matt Holliday…or you can convince yourself that everything will be fine when the Cardinals get back to Busch Stadium…but this is how I see it: Suddenly, the Cardinals have starting pitching problems. And if something doesn’t turn around soon, they’ll be fatal.
This has all started in the last week.
But, it’s bad…and as you’ve seen…even a team with a not-so-dangerous lineup like the Giants can be oh-so-dangerous when Cardinal starters are missing locations and not executing their pitches.
Over the last three starts, Adam Wainwright, Lance Lynn, and Chris Carpenter have combined for 10 innings pitched, 18 hits, and a 10.80 ERA.
Wainwright admitted Sunday he’s not the guy he was a couple of years ago. Lynn likely won’t get another start. And, Carpenter didn’t exactly baffle the Nationals last week. He dodged bullets. That’s what he’s been able to do so many times in the playoffs. He wasn’t able to do that last night.
I’m not sure if it’s a good thing that Kyle Lohse, the one guy you feel you can count on---at least I do---is pitching against the best pitcher on either team’s roster: Matt Cain.
By that I mean I feel like the Cardinals are going to likely win a Lohse start, especially against the Giants…but if they don’t hit---see Game 4 of the NLDS---it doesn’t matter how good he is. If Lohse is going up against Matt Cain, the likelihood of the Cardinals struggling offensively increases.
However, as pointed out last night on the Fox Sports Midwest Postgame Show, Cain has struggled more against the Cardinals than any other team in his career. He’s 2-3 with a 4.94 ERA.
Some may say that stat doesn’t matter…and maybe it will prove not to…but I recall Jordan Zimmermann having a similar negative track record against the Cardinals, and you saw how he got run in Game 2 last week.
If ever a playoff game didn’t feel incredibly important---as odd as that might sound---it was Game 2 last night. I assure you…I’m not saying that because the Cardinals lost.
It sucks to lose a Carpenter start, but when you go up 1-0 on the road, you can afford to go home 1-1. The Giants couldn’t afford to lose last night.
However, Game 3 becomes incredibly important…for both teams…but I think more for the Cardinals. Yeah, the Giants don’t exactly have lockdown guys lined up for Games 4 and 5. Hell, as of last night, Bruce Bochy was unsure who would start them. It sounded like he was going with Tim Lincecum and Barry Zito…and while they’re names…they haven’t killed it this year. But, on the Cardinals’ side of things, they have big question marks.
I’d like to think Adam Wainwright rises to the occasion in Game 4 and bounces back. But, that innings load on his repaired arm may finally be taking a toll. It’s tough to really get a grasp for how good he was against the Nationals in Game 1…because I do believe both starters benefited from the shadows. Yeah…Gonzalez walked a bunch of people…but he didn’t give up a bunch of hits. Neither did Wainwright. And, I’m all but certain that he doesn’t K 10 guys without the help of the shadows in Game 1. Then the question becomes how representative of where he is was Game 5. He clearly didn’t have it. He got rocked. But, he got rocked in Washington six weeks earlier…and then came back and had some damn good starts in September.
So, that was just a paragraph on Adam Wainwright…a guy five days ago most of us felt good about heading to the mound in a Game 5 do-or-die situation.
We haven’t even talked about The Friday Night Death Match. Who gets that one? It didn't sounds like it was going to be Lance Lynn yesterday before the game. Joe Strauss indicated as much on TheITDRoll.com Morning After Monday. But, now Mike Matheny is saying to the Post-Dispatch that he's leaning toward keeping Lynn in that spot. But, it's not a done deal. So, who gets the ball?
I’ll tell you who I’d go with: Shelby Miller. That is if and only if you’re committed to not using Lance Lynn. Now, I’m not 100% sure that’s the right move…because Lynn really hasn’t been great out of the bullpen this year and that’s where you’re now sending him. But, you need a big start…and you’re rolling the dice no matter what…go with Miller.
Don’t mess with what you have going with Trevor Rosenthal and Joe Kelly…but Rosenthal in particular. Rosenthal has been deadly out of the bullpen. That role could grow if the Cardinals continue on.
Give Miller a shot.
I think it’s important that Matheny got to see him in a playoff game last night, and he was outstanding in the first inning of work. If it weren’t for the Dipshit Festival that is a lack of instant replay, his second inning of work would’ve been much better than it wound up being.
And, two things to consider:
-even if he does get lit up…you have Kelly and Rosenthal…in roles they’ve now had for this postseason…ready to go. You’re not asking them to switch up. You would be if you had them start.
-I just don’t think this Giants’ lineup is that great. Now, if they come to St. Louis and go 1995 Colorado Rockies on the Cardinals, you can email me after the fact and vent your personal and/or professional frustrations on my opinion of a baseball team’s lineup. I think I’m talking to like three people when I write that…but you wouldn’t believe the anger that comes out in October.
The point is you’re not sending Miller out there to face the 2011 Texas Rangers. If Scutaro is out, then it’s an even lighter lineup.
Of course, if the Cardinals continue to get the starting pitching that they have in Games 1 and 2, the Giants will continue to look like they can flat-out rake. I just don’t think it’s there.
Here’s what I think this series is going to come down to: the Cardinal starting pitching.
And, at this moment, that’s a scary proposition.
But, I like Lohse on the mound…at this point…at anytime.
And, I just have too much belief in Adam Wainwright to think he’ll go out there and get rocked again…especially at Busch Stadium…and especially against a weaker lineup.
What about Friday night?
Could Shelby Miller join names like John Stuper and Anthony Reyes with shocking postseason starts?
Who knows? He might not even get the ball. But, if they’re committed to Lynn getting out of the rotation, I’d like to see Miller get the shot.
Here’s what I do know: it should be quite entertaining over the next three days in Downtown St. Louis.
Cain-Lincecum-Zito vs. Lohse-Wainwright-and (perhaps) one of the Cardinals’ top pitching prospects.
It’s a baseball nerds’ wet dream.
I don’t need to come up with fake storylines to be fired up for what’s coming our way Wednesday afternoon. And my guess is you don’t either.
Don’t get me wrong…I would’ve loved it if Angel Pagan really saluted the Cardinal dugout. And, I would’ve loved it if the Giants were motherfucking Holliday left and right and suddenly got all fired up because of his slide.
But, alas, ‘tis all bullshit.
I wish it weren’t, but it is. It’s a lot more fun when you have good ones like Jeffrey Leonard and Nyjer Morgan to hate on during an NLCS.
Perhaps by Friday night we’ll have watched these two teams grow to hate each other. Perhaps by Friday night they’ll like Matt Holliday more in San Francisco than they will in St. Louis. Perhaps by Friday night, one of these two teams will be on their way to the World Series.
I’m fired up---with great anxiety---for the rollercoaster ride of Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.
It’s going to be tough to lock in and do the show and write the column.
But you know what?
I’m going to do it.
I’m going to fucking do it.
In honor of Marco Scutaro.
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