posted on October 17, 2012 23:21
NLCS Game 3: Random Observations And Stuff
The following is not usually a winning formula:
Watch Matt Cain breeze his way into the 7th inning on less than 100 pitches.
Lose the best postseason hitter around after one inning to injury.
See your best starter allow 12 baserunners in 5.2 IP.
Send the closer out to try and get the first six-out postseason save since 2005.
Matt Cain was damn good. But, his line is not reflective of how good he was. 6.2 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, and 2 K’s. He got beat one big time…and he and the Giants paid for it. He didn’t make a mistake. He got beat. Matt Carpenter got him…just like Matt Carpenter has somehow gotten him a number of times before. Carpenter was four-for-four against Cain going into that at-bat. What in the fucking world?
Lohse, on the other hand, wasn’t damn good. But, his line score is not reflective of it. Lohse only allowed one earned run over 5.2 IP. But, he walked five, which is incredibly uncharacteristic for him in 2012. As Lohse told The Cat following the game on The Fox Sports Midwest Postgame Show, he was battling with an inability to locate pitches, and “It could’ve gotten ugly out there.”
But, it didn’t.
I would tell you that Chris Carpenter pitched just as well as Kyle Lohse in his start Monday. But, on that night, the Giants’ bounces on their dinks and dunks fell their way. They didn’t yesterday.
I’ll tell you this: The Giants’ lineup is not impressive on paper, and so many times their hits are little bloops or bouncers that find the right spot. However, their hitters battle. The fight off pitches, and they make the Cardinals come to them. I think that’s one of the biggest reasons that Lynn, Carpenter, and Lohse all have not been able to deliver a quality start. They’re throwing a shitload of pitches while the Giants’ hitters---who may not be as intimidating as the Rangers last year---have a hell of a lot of discipline…much better than the Rangers last year.
Lohse said it himself to Ken Rosenthal right before play resumed after the three hour and twenty-eight minute rain delay: “Those guys weren’t going after the pitches that other teams I’ve faced lately have been going after.”
That’s a credit to the Giants.
And, that is an illustration of how they do so much with so little.
Butttttttttttt…it’s also a hell of an opportunity for the Cardinals in this way: these guys just don’t have the lineup that you usually see at this point in the playoffs. Don’t get me wrong…if the Cardinals’ starters are off, they can make them pay, because they don’t waste at-bats. They grind. But, they just don’t have a deadly lineup. Lohse was off…way off for him…and they couldn’t do much with it.
The fact that they got that kind of start from Cain…and had a vulnerable Lohse out there for the Cardinals…and couldn’t win has to be tilting for the Giants.
Whereas I felt like the Cardinals really got beat for the first time this postseason in Game 2, I feel like Game 3 was the first one they stole.
The Giants had more opportunities. They got the better pitching. And, they lost.
Carlos Beltran wasn’t even around after the first…and they lost.
Beltran, Matt Holliday, Allen Craig, and Yadier Molina combined for a 1-for-12 day…and they lost.
This is the type of loss that if it were the Cardinals that pissed it away, I’d lose sleep.
The Giants lost with their ace…and now have to come back with Tim Lincecum, someone who has the name and the Cy Youngs…but someone who has been struggling so badly this year that Bruce Bochy had him in the bullpen in the NLDS and Game 1 of the NLCS.
Lincecum last made a start on September 30th. He allowed four earned runs in six innings against the Padres. The start before he allowed seven earned runs in four innings against the Diamondbacks. Now, Lincecum has looked great coming out of the bullpen against the Reds and Cardinals this October…but he was a mess as a starter this year.
Lincecum carried a 5.18 ERA in 2012…and a 6.43 ERA away from home.
In a pitching matchup that would be paradise if it were 2009…but still pretty damn good in 2012…Lincecum takes the Busch Stadium mound against Adam Wainwright.
How will Wainwright respond from the mess that was his start in Game 5 of the NLDS?
Was that an indication of things to come for a guy who’s thrown a hell of a lot of pitches after Tommy John Surgery…or was that just an exception to the rule and a guy who didn’t have it on one night?
I’ll tell you this (this is the second thing I’ve told you): if he gets rocked by this lineup, that’s a big problem. It’s one thing for Jayson Werth, Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman, Adam LaRoche, Michael Morse, and Ian Desmond to get to you…it’s a totally different ballgame with the Melky-less Giants.
I’ll tell you this (I’m on a roll…in my own mind…with this stupid phrase): the Cardinals really haven’t played particularly well this series…and they’re up 2-1.
I just can’t believe that Holliday, Craig, and Molina are going to continue to struggle like this.
The golden opportunity to break out of it is over the next two days: a not-so-freakish Tim Lincecum and then Barry Zito in Game 5.
As the late great Blues’ GM Ron Caron would say, “There’s meat on the burner.”
In this case, it could be on the mound.
Got to come through.
Got to take advantage of it.
If this were 2009 Lincecum and 2001 Zito, it’d be a different program. But it’s most definitely not. Zito was better this year…but he still has failed to regain that Oakland form. The Giants don’t exactly show a whole lot of faith in him either…as Bochy yanked him after 2.2 IP in Cincinnati…and he had only allowed two earned runs.
Imagine if the Cardinals’ offense got it going just a little bit. Just one of Holliday, Craig, or Molina got a couple of big hits.
It hasn’t happened yet, and so the math makes me believe it has to happen at some point soon. Of course, over in the Giants’ clubhouse, I’m sure they’re noticing that Buster Posey and Hunter Pence aren’t exactly raking either.
Bottom line: I really do believe the Cardinals had to have that one. With the sudden struggles of Wainwright, Carpenter, and Lynn, media/fans aren’t sure if they’re blips on the radar or trends. Lohse, however, has been rock solid. Not glamorous. Just solid.
And, he wasn’t even particularly good yesterday…yet he made pitches when he had to get out of jams.
Sometimes that’s what it takes. I’d point to Carpenter’s Game 3 start against the Nationals. He wasn’t great, but he made pitches to minimize the damage.
What will we see tonight?
Will Wainwright return to form? Will Lincecum carry over his bullpen momentum to a start? Has he figured it out? Will one of the Cardinals’ big bats finally get it going? Will one of the Giants’ big bats finally get it going? Will Carlos Beltran play?
If these answers fall on the side of the Cardinals’ favor, you’ve got to like their chances to take a commanding series lead.
Of course, the Giants had the answers fall on their side in Game 2…and they missed a golden opportunity to put their hands around the neck of the Cardinals.
Tonight, the Cardinals can make San Francisco pay dearly for wasting a great start and numerous opportunities to score and win Game 3…by burying them in Game 4.
Lincecum vs. Wainwright in Game 4 of the NLCS at Busch Stadium.
It’s Baseball Nerd Heaven.
Log-in to post your comments, or you can email me at email@example.com.