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Posted on October 13, 2012 at 11:17 AM
Filed Under: San Francisco Giants | St. Louis Cardinals | Washington Nationals
These things don't happen.

They don't, they just don't.  And when they do happen, like they did last year in Game 6, they don't happen again.  Everyone gets all excited about "hey, they've done it before" but the other team knows it as well and puts them away, maybe after a short scare.  But they don't happen twice.

Until they do.

I'm a terribly nervous playoff game watcher.  I flip away, I do other things while keeping an eye on the game, things of that nature.  In fact, that's what made last year's NLDS Game 5 so memorable--I spent the whole game watching, pacing in front of my TV and sharing on Twitter.  This year, it was poker night and instead of watching, I went out there after a meeting.  (Before you slag me too hard, that's also where I spent Game 7 last year, and that worked out OK.)

Of course, before I even get out there it's 3-0 and as I keep following along on MLB At Bat, it moves up to 6-0.  I was on record as saying I thought Gio Gonzalez would be tough to beat anyway, and I just couldn't see this team getting six runs against him.  12 in '12 was nice, but it sure didn't look like it was going to happen.

Shows what I know.  Thankfully.

I kept watching and seeing how they were rallying.  6-1.  Then 6-3, but even that made me question things.  I mean, bases-loaded no-outs (for the second time in the series) and they did get two runs but without a hit.  I had to wonder if they were going to be able to get that big hit when they needed it.

6-4.  Then Daniel Descalso--man, if I did Heroes and Goats for the postseason, there's no doubt DD would have been my Hero for this one--launches a home run.  Descalso!  They don't give MVPs for the first round, but he would have been in the discussion.  Two home runs and he could have had a third if Jayson Werth doesn't rob him in Game 1.  (Then again, if Werth doesn't rob him, I don't think we are playing a Game 5.)

So Jason Motte comes in and I'm thinking, "Well, heart of the lineup up in the ninth, there's a chance for someone to pop one."  Right about that time Motte allows the RBI hit to Kurt Suzuki and it seems like all is lost.  You know how basketball teams get down and they scratch and claw back to a few points down, but never get over that hump and that's as close as they get?  That's a little what the eighth felt like.

Then there was the ninth.

I'm sure those that I was playing with would have been much more annoyed with the fact I kept holding up the game by paying more attention to my phone (which was quickly draining battery trying to keep up) than the action at the table.  When Carlos Beltran was on third with two outs, it didn't seem like there was enough magic to do more than just cut into the gap, maybe.

Then Drew Storen couldn't find the strike zone.

Yadier Molina had been cold, including swinging earlier at a 2-0 pitch out of the zone to fly out with runners on.  Yet Yadi was patient, knowing that base runners were so very valuable right then.

David Freese had been hot, but he was also patient and didn't try to replicate his big moment from last year.  He knew that it was better to draw the walk than to reach for a pitch in anxiousness to be the hero.  Which was even more impressive because he knew that the bottom of the lineup was coming up.

So the season rode on Daniel Descalso and, after him, Pete Kozma.  If you'd told a Cardinal fan that in April, they'd never have believed that this team could have been playing in October if that was the case.  They'd have assumed it was some September game that was the difference in them being eliminated or not, because there's no way those guys are regulars on a playoff team.

Desclaso went up there with a plan and executed it, bouncing a ball off of Ian Desmond's glove and tying the game.  Kozma then continued what is going to make for THE most intriguing question of the offseason--exactly how much of this is real and how much can you count on him for 2013--and drove in the two winning runs.

A 1-2-3 inning from Motte later, the National fans are going home with a hole in their stomach while the Cards are taking the ultimate Happy Flight.

It's been almost half a day later.  I watched an hour of ESPN coverage last night on the game.  I have read many articles this morning about it.  I've written this post, even.  And yet I still don't have my head around this whole thing.  These things just don't happen.  They definitely don't happen twice.

Until they do.

Obviously, I've not had a chance to really look at the Giants as we shift focus to the NLCS.  You know the experience issue won't be a factor there as the Giants were the 2010 World Series champs and a lot of the same guys are still there.  We know they have good pitching, but offensively they are challenged.  If the Cards are able to contain Buster Posey and Hunter Pence (who has always bedeviled the Cards), I feel good about their chances in this one.  The two teams did split their six meetings this season, splitting four games in St. Louis in August (one of which belied the thoughts about the offense as San Francisco won 15-0) and (if you do the math this isn't a surprise) split a two-game series in AT&T Park back in May.

Lance Lynn will start off the series for the Cardinals.  Lynn came out of the 'pen in the NLDS, most notably giving up the home run to Werth in Game 4 and also allowing two home runs in his three innings of work in Game 2, which came after the Cardinals had a healthy lead.  He shouldn't have to worry as much about home runs in this game, though SF can strike if he's not careful.

PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS IBB HBP GDP
Hunter Pence 6 6 2 0 0 0 0 0 1 .333 .333 .333 .667 0 0 0
Marco Scutaro 6 6 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .167 .167 .167 .333 0 0 1
Brandon Crawford 5 5 1 1 0 0 0 0 4 .200 .200 .400 .600 0 0 0
Angel Pagan 5 4 2 0 0 0 0 1 1 .500 .600 .500 1.100 0 0 0
Joaquin Arias 3 3 2 1 0 0 1 0 0 .667 .667 1.000 1.667 0 0 0
Brandon Belt 3 3 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 .667 .667 .667 1.333 0 0 0
Buster Posey 3 3 1 0 0 1 3 0 2 .333 .333 1.333 1.667 0 0 0
Barry Zito 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 .000 .500 .000 .500 0 0 0
Aubrey Huff 2 2 1 0 0 1 2 0 0 .500 .500 2.000 2.500 0 0 0
Xavier Nady 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0
Total 37 34 12 2 0 2 6 2 9 .353 .389 .588 .977 0 0 1
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 10/13/2012.

The Giants have been able to get to Lynn in a small sample.  He's only seen them once this year, allowing four runs in six innings on August 7.  That was in the middle of Lynn's skid this season, before he got demoted to the bullpen and got some words of wisdom from Chris Carpenter.  Hopefully we'll see the new Lynn and not that one.

It's not listed on the official page, but ESPN said last night that Madison Bumgarner would be the Game 1 starter for the Giants.  If so, it's a great way for the Giants to get a quick lead in the series.

PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS IBB HBP GDP
Allen Craig 14 13 3 2 0 0 3 0 2 .231 .214 .385 .599 0 0 0
Matt Holliday 12 12 2 0 0 0 0 0 3 .167 .167 .167 .333 0 0 1
Yadier Molina 8 7 2 0 0 0 0 1 0 .286 .375 .286 .661 0 0 0
Jon Jay 7 6 4 2 0 0 0 1 1 .667 .714 1.000 1.714 0 0 0
David Freese 5 5 2 0 0 1 1 0 1 .400 .400 1.000 1.400 0 0 0
Tony Cruz 4 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0
Daniel Descalso 4 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0
Carlos Beltran 3 3 1 0 0 1 2 0 1 .333 .333 1.333 1.667 0 0 0
Jaime Garcia 3 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 .333 .333 .333 .667 0 0 0
Shane Robinson 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0
Adam Wainwright 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0
Total 65 62 15 4 0 2 6 2 15 .242 .262 .403 .665 0 0 1
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 10/13/2012.

The Cards have often struggled with lefties anyway and Bumgarner is no exception. St. Louis got to him out in San Francisco, jumping on him for four runs in seven and a third back in May, and they also beat him in St. Louis in August, getting three off of him in six innings.  So maybe a lot of this sample was done last year.  Bumgarner is still a very good pitcher (16-11, 3.37 ERA, close to a strikeout an inning) but hopefully the Redbirds can take confidence from those games earlier in the season.

Got some great ways for you to be involved in the NLCS and I'll share those with you in another post shortly.  Also, Bob Netherton is writing The Bird's Eye View for the NLCS and if you aren't getting those series previews delivered to your mailbox, you can sign up for it right here.

Pick your adjective, folks, but last night was incredible.  Let's make sure it's not the last highlight of October, though!

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I did the same thing last night that I did during Game 6 last year; I stopped watching after they got down. For some reason, I was in a foul mood, and watching them get their heads handed to them would not improve my mood, for sure. That said, I would check in periodically, and when it got to 6-3, I started paying more attention. I saw DD's home run, and figured well, they're back in this thing, and then it was 7-5. Once again, I bailed, but just for a few minutes. And then the 9th inning happened. All I can say is wow. Just wow.
On a personal note, my father, who is responsible for me being a Cardinals fan, passed away 34 years ago today. It's fitting, I think, that the Cardinals won last night, because I know in my heart that he was watching and was willing them on to victory. Thanks, Dad.

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Heroes
Carlos Beltran (6)
Yadier Molina (5)
Matt Holliday (4)
Jon Jay (4)
Matt Carpenter (3)
Daniel Descalso (3)
Jaime Garcia (3)
Pete Kozma (3)
Shelby Miller (3)
Adam Wainwright (3)
Allen Craig (2)
Lance Lynn (2)
Tyler Lyons (2)
Edward Mujica (2)
Jake Westbrook (2)
David Freese (1)
Joe Kelly (1)
Seth Maness (1)
Trevor Rosenthal (1)
Michael Wacha (1)
Ty Wigginton (1)

2012 Top Hero: Matt Holliday (17)
2011 Top Hero: Lance Berkman (24)
2010 Top Heroes: Matt Holliday and Albert Pujols (24)
2009 Top Hero: Albert Pujols (28)
2008 Top Hero: Albert Pujols (25)

Goats
Jon Jay (6)
David Freese (5)
Mitchell Boggs (4)
Joe Kelly (4)
Pete Kozma (4)
Matt Carpenter (3)
Allen Craig (3)
Daniel Descalso (3)
Jaime Garcia (3)
Yadier Molina (3)
Matt Adams (2)
Carlos Beltran (2)
Matt Carpenter (2)
Matt Holliday (2)
Lance Lynn (2)
Seth Maness (1)
Shane Robinson (1)
Fernando Salas (1)
Adam Wainwright (1)
Jake Westbrook (1)

2012 Top Goat: Rafael Furcal (11)
2011 Top Goat: Ryan Theriot (12)
2010 Top Goat: Brendan Ryan (14)
2009 Top Goats: Rick Ankiel and Todd Wellemeyer (13)
2008 Top Goat: Troy Glaus (13)

Cardinal Nation Approval Ratings (March 2013)
Yadier Molina 96.2% (up 8.8%)
Chris Carpenter 89.8% (down 0.3%)
Derrick Goold 89.1% (up 6.3%)
Matt Holliday 88.4% (up 0.9%)
Allen Craig 88.3%
Adam Wainwright 88.2% (down 3.7%)
Jose Oquendo 87.1% (up 2.4%)
Jason Motte 86.9%
John Mozeliak 86.5% (up 1.1%)
United Cardinal Bloggers 85.2% (up 6.3%)
Bill DeWitt 85.1% (up 5.3%)
Mike Shannon 85.1% (down 0.2%)
John Rooney 84.5% (up 3.0%)
Mike Matheny 84.4% (up 3.3%)
David Freese 82.9% (down 2.6%)
Jon Jay 81.8% (up 10.7%)
Lance Berkman 80.6% (down 8.0%)
Jenifer Langosch 79.5%
Lance Lynn 79.5%
Dan McLaughlin 76.0% (up 8.0%)
Jim Hayes 73.0% (up 1.1%)
Ricky Horton 65.5% (down 2.0%)
Jaime Garcia 64.1%
Albert Pujols 59.2% (up 4.3%)
Ballpark Village 58.3%
Joe Strauss 54.3% (down 13.4%)

2012
Tony La Russa 88.2% (up 17.4%)
Mark McGwire 82.6% (up 20.1%)
Skip Schumaker 73.3% (up 9.2%)
B.J. Rains 69.5% (down 0.9%)
Kyle Lohse 68.9% (up 13.8%)
Al Hrabosky 66.4% (up 3.2%)
Colby Rasmus 46.5% (down 35.3%)

2011
Dave Duncan 87.9% (up 0.9%)
Matthew Leach 85.5%
Pop Warner 76.7%
Ryan Franklin 72.8% (up 3.1%)
John Vuch 68.9%
Jeff Luhnow 66.4%
Dan Lozano 58.7%

2009
Rick Ankiel 83.9%
Chris Duncan 69.1%


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