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Game 7 battle favors Giants over Cardinals

Oct 21, 2012, 11:30 PM EDT

San Francisco Giants' Belt hits a broken bat single against St. Louis Cardinals relief pitcher Rzepczynski in the eighth inning during Game 6 of their MLB NLCS playoff baseball series in San Francisco Reuters

With their backs against the wall, the Giants have been unstoppable this month, winning five straight elimination games against the Reds and Cardinals.

It’s an impressive streak, no doubt. The Cardinals would likely be the first to admit it. After all, they’re riding a streak of six straight wins in elimination games themselves.

Now one of those streaks is bound to come to an end on Monday. Or perhaps Tuesday, since the forecast for Monday evening is pretty grim.

The Giants’ key for Game 7 is obvious: they need ace Matt Cain to come out and match the starts put up by Barry Zito and Ryan Vogelsong in the last two games. Cain’s looked more like a No. 3 than a No. 1 so far this month, giving up exactly three runs in all three of his starts. It’s left him 1-2 with a 4.67 ERA. That’s quite a change from the last two months of the season, when Cain allowed two runs or fewer in 10 of 12 outings.

The Cardinals probably don’t need quite so much from fellow 16-game winner Kyle Lohse, not with Trevor Rosenthal and Jason Motte both ready to pitch up two innings in relief. Lohse, though, is definitely the guy they want out there. He’s 2-1 with a 1.96 ERA in his three postseason starts. He outdueled Cain in Wednesday’s Game 3, a 3-1 victory for the Cardinals in St. Louis.

The guess here is that Cain is due. The same goes for likely NL MVP Buster Posey. And while the Giants’ best relievers don’t match Cardinals’ huge arms, they’ve been plenty effective to date.

Of course, everyone who has come away doubting Lohse lately has been made to look foolish. At the very least, he always keeps it close. The Cardinals are 23-13 in Lohse’s starts this year. Of the 13 losses, nine were by one run, three were by two runs and one was by three runs (May 30 against the Braves).

  1. Marty - Oct 21, 2012 at 11:43 PM

    Two great teams who have every reason to be here. Nothing much else to say.

    My only concern is that the World Series will be a let down.

    • cur68 - Oct 22, 2012 at 12:42 AM

      Yeah, what you said Marty. Still, one more showdown before the big fight.

    • richwizl - Oct 22, 2012 at 12:40 PM

      No let-downs coming; all good teams left and the WS will be a tough battle for anyone.

  2. ndnut - Oct 21, 2012 at 11:43 PM

    “The guess here is that Cain is due. The same goes for likely NL MVP Buster Posey.”

    I said it before the Cardinals Braves game and I will say it again. Due never does. Every situation has its own set of circumstances, and mathematically there is no better or worse chance based on previous outcomes. Yes, I am a math geek (but not a total sabermetrics guy).

    • longhornpride05 - Oct 22, 2012 at 12:07 AM

      sure there is. you look at the odds of Cain throwing a 4th consecutive 3+ run game before 6 innings with the basis being the 2 months before.
      Stats are a lie because a TRUE statement can be given that A. they are due B. each game individually has the same stats (what you’re saying) C. Cain will struggle because of hist postseason performance and Lohse won’t because of his.
      It all depends how big of a sample you want to look at. None of those are wrong and that’s why no one should trust stats, anyone can twist them to say anything they want in their favor.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Oct 22, 2012 at 5:51 AM

        There’s no evidence of people being due, in fact, google gamblers fallacy and see how you are wrong. Also interesting that you make a comment about how stats lie, then you want to reference a ridiculously small sample size of two months as if it has any predictive value whatsoever.

        It’s possible Cain tosses a7IP shutout, or a quality start our gets blown out of the water; however, unless he was hurt his last start, what he did then has no predictive bearing on what he does in game 7.

    • stlouis1baseball - Oct 22, 2012 at 9:02 AM

      When you said it before the Cardinals/Braves game I responded…”due just did” right after the Cardinals won the game. Cain may be “due.” But so are J.J., Holliday and A.C.. While I didn’t want to go back to San Francisco (and certainly didn’t want to play a game #7)…I will take my chance with this St. Louis Cardinals lineup. It has been a great series. As Marty says…by two teams that deserve to be here.
      I fully expect a hard fought game #7. Go Cardinals!

  3. libertynchurch - Oct 21, 2012 at 11:58 PM

    Rain tommorrow, Game 7 on Tuesday. No rest for the Cardinal pitchers before they face the Tigers. A non-competitive WS, Tigers over the Cardinals in 5.

    • longhornpride05 - Oct 22, 2012 at 12:09 AM

      the only pitchers who would get a days less rest are Lohse and Cain, it’s not like all the Giants and Cardinals starting pitchers will be pitching tomorrow night…

      • stlouis1baseball - Oct 22, 2012 at 9:04 AM

        longhorn: your logic is lost here.

    • voteforno6 - Oct 22, 2012 at 8:03 AM

      The Giants will have home field advantage for the World Series, so it’s not like they’ll have to worry about a travel day.

  4. libertynchurch - Oct 22, 2012 at 12:40 AM

    Having to use your ace in a Game 7 League Championshp is a very big deal. Google the list of World Seies MVPs. Dominated by pitchers. Whoever wins the NLCS will be at a disadvantage matching the Tigers pitching rotation. The
    NL Champ will be forced to look for lightning in a bottle from a number two or number three starter. Look at the WS MVP List. MVP Aces.

    • opshuns - Oct 22, 2012 at 4:22 AM

      This staff tossed up 4 consecutive shutsouts this year… They are not the normal run of the mill guys even with a limp (Timmy)….

    • seeingwhatsticks - Oct 22, 2012 at 5:20 AM

      I actually think this is too much waiting around for the Tigers. An extra day or 2, to get some rest and get your rotation set, is an advantage. However baseball is a game of timing and skill and there’s a rhythm to it that’s critical. This is the longest break the Tigers have had since before the season started in April. Think about that. How do they respond? For an all-time great team it’s a challenge and I don’t think the Tigers, good as they are, would qualify as one of those teams.

      Here’s a realistic scenario: Verlander goes in game 1 against the 2nd or 3rd best starter of the Giants or Cards. He has a rough first 2 innings and gives up a pair of runs before settling in and pitching 7+ strong innings. Unfortunately that 2nd or 3rd best pitcher is able to get through 5 innings of 1 run ball, keeping Tigers hitters off balance enough to dance through some rain drops before exiting in the 6th. Whichever team the Tigers face will have an excellent bullpen, which steps in and shuts the door for the final 4 innings and the NL takes game 1. Now both teams know that A. the Tigers blew a Verlander game, and B. the Tigers haven’t even faced the NL’s ace yet.

      Now, that exact scenario leading to a 2-1 game may be unlikely but a situation where the Tigers are just off enough to lose game 1 and find themselves staring at the NL’s ace in game 2 or game 3 is hardly a stretch. I actually think it’s almost an advantage to keep your ace away from a Verlander start, especially given the fact that the game 1 starter wouldn’t be scheduled to start game 6 or game 7.

  5. jayquintana - Oct 22, 2012 at 1:32 AM

    Can has to be due for a big game… no?

    • jayquintana - Oct 22, 2012 at 1:37 AM

      Er, make that CAIN.

  6. sailcat54 - Oct 22, 2012 at 1:54 AM

    With Cain on the mound, and with Lincecum held in reserve as a long reliever, the Giants can be expected to hold the Cards to fewer than four runs, at most. If the Giants come to the game ready to hit, they can win. If they forget how to use their bats, they will have a harder time of it; Posey, Pence, and Crawford have to come through tomorrow if the Big Guys expect to go to the WS.

    Can they do it? Hell yes! Go Gigantes!

  7. nothanksimdriving123 - Oct 22, 2012 at 3:44 AM

    Perhaps you can forgive some Nationals and Rangers fans if we would like to see the Cardinals take an 11-0 lead into the bottom of the 9th, get two quick outs and have Pence down 0-2, before, well, I’ll bet you can guess what we’d like to see happen then.

    • stlouis1baseball - Oct 22, 2012 at 9:34 AM

      Hahaha! Although I detest what it is you are insinuating…please know I gave you a thumbs up on the spirit alone.

  8. richwizl - Oct 22, 2012 at 12:48 PM

    Longtime Red Sox fan anticipating a great game between two deserving clubs. Both teams are to be respected for what they’ve accomplished this season; unfortunately, one group will be feeling really low at the end of this final game, as one group celebrates wildly in front of them. The Tigers are powerful but will have a worthy opponent whichever team prevails.

  9. mazblast - Oct 22, 2012 at 2:02 PM

    If the NL team wins the World Series, we’ll hear all about how the Tigers were “rusty” and/or the NL team had “momentum”.

    If the Tigers win, we’ll hear all about how the NL team was “exhausted” andf the Tigers “overcame” their “long” layoff.

    Either way, the media hacks have their cliches and truisms ready.

    Personally, my favorite truism-that-isn’t-true is “pitching wins the short series”. On one hand, it’s obvious, as the team that pitches better wins (because they allow fewer runs than the losing team, duhhhhh); on the other hand, if it were really true, the Braves would have won more than one WS during their historic run of division titles.

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