I couldn’t be more pleased with the Giants’ comeback in the NLCS. And I couldn’t have been more wrong about my prediction the series was over after the Cardinals took a 3-1 series lead.
As one reader (George A Giants) points out “Wrong on all counts, sir.” Well yes, indeed I was. Man guilty.
Perhaps it‘s my distaste for all things Cardinals baseball that clouded my judgment? Or maybe it was the fact the Cardinals seemingly could do no wrong the past two postseasons?
Whatever the case, I didn’t just question the Giants’ ability to win but accused them of lacking a ‘clutch’ gene following its Game 3 loss against St. Louis. Of course, I should have known better.
The Giants, of all teams, were arguably the most clutch of any contender this postseason when they bounced back against Cincinnati after an 0-2 start in the division series.
But once San Francisco set an identical scene in the LCS, forcing its hand to win three-straight games, it only appeared the G-Men were merely following suite with the rest of the National League and doing its part to bow-out against the ‘luck-be-a-lady’ Cardinals.
Not to mention, only twice in NLCS history has a team recovered from down 3-1 to win the series (and yes, sadly the 2003 Marlins’ comeback against the Cubs is one of them). And these were the Cardinals, after all–a team who seemingly poisoned the postseason with its frustratingly uncanny ability to stay alive against greater talent.
Then like a switch–’click’–the Giants turned back on. The many scoring opportunities wasted through the first four-games were no more, they capitalized on Cardinals miscues and most importantly, the Giants’ starting pitching was, in a word–outstanding.
Even when San Fran tied the series 3-3 I still figured the Giants were just setting us up for another Cardinals’ clincher…
Wrong again. Instead, the Giants handed St. Louis an old fashioned butt-whopping in Game 7, a 9-0 drubbing that was never a close match.
And despite all the thrilling games we’ve witnessed this October, I enjoyed not one of them more than last night’s Game 7. Why? Because finally a National League team stood up to the Cardinals and refused to give away the series as so many before the Giants had.
No one likes to be wrong, including me. But luckily, I’m absolutely tickled my NLCS prediction wasn’t accurate. And yes, I’ve learned my lesson, too. Forget not counting those Cardinals out, it’s the never-say-die Giants the Tigers should be worried about.
Baseball’s postseason is facing a dilemma that often challenges March Madness–the tournament has peaked in terms of national interest after the first weekend.
It’s been a sharp decline for baseball since the conclusion of the division series, which couldn’t have been scripted any better given each series reached a decisive Game 5–a first in postseason history.
But the outcomes of those series, unfortunately, has left us with a Final Four lacking virtually any rooting interest from the masses.
Nothing would’ve been more fun, more interesting, than watching the excitement of Moneyball II, the New Red Machine, BUCKleup and Natitude compete against each other for a World Series championship.
Instead, we’re left with another ALCS appearance by the Yankees and a Cardinals team we’ve seen reach the World Series in 3 of the past 6 seasons…and most likely 4 out of the last 7 years once they defeat the Giants in the NLCS (just a tinny little touch of sarcasm).
Aside from Buster Posey, there’s hardly anything exciting about San Francisco, whose most colorful player, Brian Wilson, was lost for the season due to injury, and whose best starting pitcher, Tim Lincecum, has been demoted to bullpen duty. Oh yeah, there’s also the Melky suspension.
Detroit, of course, offers us one of the game’s most dominating hurlers in Justin Verlander, and one of the game’s best sluggers in Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera. But the Tigers are largely thought of as underachievers for its lackluster regular season play…and who wants to rally behind that?
It’s fascinating, yet greatly disappointing, how quickly this year’s postseason has lost its luster after all the all the dramatics and thrills from the final two weeks of the regular season through the division series.
If we’re lucky, we might get a World Series Game 7, something that would give baseball fans aside from the MLB Final Four cities a reason to care again. But until then, and if a WS Game 7 even happens, what’s there to root for, what reason do we have to care?
Our postseason brackets are busted, our teams bounced. It’s March Madness in October…and the best, it seems, has already come. At the very least, the first weekend was fun.
Adrian Beltre has become this October’s version of Edgar Renteria–an accomplished veteran making the most of the postseason.
With all due respect to Ian Kinsler, who I tabbed as the early favorite to win the World Series MVP Award, Mike Napoli has earned top honors should Texas go on to win it all.
The bearded slugger remains a surprise thorn in the Cardinals side delivering clutch hits throughout the series, including his tiebreaking two-run double in the eight giving the Rangers a 3-2 series advantage in Game 5 Monday night.
Napoli is hitting .308 with 2 HR and a series leading 9 RBI, which nearly matches the offensive output from the rest of the Rangers’ lineup (12 RBI).
If there’s a downside to Derek Holland’s brilliant outing in game 4, (besides his pitiful cookie duster!) it’s that he likely won’t be available to start a potential Game 7 scheduled Thursday night in St. Louis.
The postseason is suppose to be reserved for power-arms. But Randy Wolf, a soft-tossing lefty, dominated St. Louis in Game 4 to keep Milwaukee’s World Series hopes alive.
Honestly, I didn’t think Wolf had seven innings of two-run baseball in him. Not after surrendering seven earned runs to Arizona in the NLDS, which came on the heels of 10 runs allowed in 11.2 innings of his final two starts of the regular season.
But despite allowing two early solo home runs, Wolf settled down to retire 13 of his final 15 batters while keeping St. Louis hitless with RISP–The Cards finished the game 0-for-8 in that category and remain 0-for-15 after the first inning of Game 3.
For Milwaukee this October, it’s finally a starting performance that’s postseason worthy.
Game 5 starter, Zach Greinke, has allowed 16 hits and 10 runs for a 8.18 ERA over two starts. Shaun Marcum: 14 hits, 12 runs, and a 12.46 ERA in two outings.
Yovani Gallardo has been the most steady hand, but unimpressive for a staff ace: 18 hits in 19 IP, 8 walks, and 2 HR in three outings.
Even with the NLCS now a best-of-three series, the Brewers staff better find another Wolf-like performance in them. Otherwise, Randy’s gem could be the lasting highlight for a brilliant Brewers season.
Get ready for a St. Louis-Texas World Series.
I’m speaking ‘unofficially,’ of course, but that’s where the LCS’s are headed.
Texas has the all too commanding 3-1 lead over Detroit. And even with the Tigers throwing Justin Verlander in Game 5…at best they’ll need him to come back on three days rest for a potential Game 7 in Arlington.
The Rangers’ bullpen, more so than its potent lineup, has been the difference maker. The relief corps allowed just a single run through 15 innings of the first three games–and one run in Game 4. Simply, Lights. Out.
Meanwhile, back in St. Louis…the Cardinals and Chris Carpenter withstood Milwaukee’s best chance to gain the series winning Game 3, 4-3.
For all intents and purposes, Yovani Gallardo lost the game, and perhaps the series, in the first inning allowing the first five Cardinals to reach base. Four of those runners scored–and that was that.
Cards win game. Cards take 2-1 series lead.
In fact, the Cardinals bullpen retired the last 12 Milwaukee hitters in a row and allowed just a single base runner from the fifth inning on. Sound familiar, Detroit fans?
Now St. Louis feasts on Randy Wolf in Game 4, coming off a 7 ER performance in his NLDS start vs. Arizona. And for dessert, a tasty treat of Zach Greinke and his 9.00 postseason ERA in Game 5.
The Brewers have lost eight consecutive postseason games on the road. They don’t beat the Cardinals in Milwaukee, and now they have to take 3 of 4 to win the series.
Not impossible, but not likely either.
St. Louis vs. Texas. Who knew?
I picked the winner of Game 3 to win the ALCS. Texas in the World Series…who would have thunk it?
The series, of course, is far from over, but the Rangers have been in control since the first inning of Game 1. And with Cliff Lee, Ron Washington’s bunch knows anything is possible– including toppling the mighty Yankees.
Lee just makes it look so easy out there. Poised, in control and hardly a sweat to wipe off his brow. The man’s not only dominated this postseason, but holds a career 7-0 record and 1.26 ERA in October. Unreal!
How many pitchers in baseball can do what Lee did Monday night at Yankee Stadium? Eight innings, two hits, 13 strikeouts…against NY…in October. I know this much–not many.
Lee’s been so ridiculous he’s become the first pitcher to achieve double digits in strikeouts three times in one postseason. Which means what?
It means we’re watching one of the best postseason pitchers ever. And for those who are wondering, that is possible for players not wearing a Yankees or Red Sox uniform.