Giants at Cardinals: NLCS Game 3 Preview
Woo-hoo! Postseason baseball is back! Man, that was a long wait. What’s it been? 36 hours?
The Giants are in St. Louie for Game 3 of the National League Championship Series (1:00 p.m. PT, FOX). The best-of-seven series is knotted at a game apiece, Marco Scutaro is supposed to play, and Matt Cain is on the hill. What’s not to like?
By the way, if you’re in St. Louis reading this (or on a plane 30,000 feet above Oklahoma headin’ that way) and you need tickets to tonight’s game at Busch Stadium, you can still snag some here, via TiqIQ.
The big question on everyone’s mind: Will there be retaliation?
Will Cain whiz one in the vicinity of Holliday’s chin? Or will that job be left to the Giants bullpen? Will the umpires fire a pre-game missive designed to quell any ill thoughts on either team’s part? Will Jose Oquendo and Will Clark (now dugout coaches for their respective teams) take a walk down memory lane today? Where’s Ozzie Smith in all this anyway?
As for today’s match-up, Cain hasn’t been exactly sharp in the postseason; I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t concerned. In 10.2 playoff innings so far, he’s 1-1 with a 5.06 ERA and 1.313 WHIP. Compare that to 2010 when Shotgun surrendered zero — that’s right — zero earned runs in 21.1 postseason innings.
As a matter of fact, seems Cainer hasn’t been the same ever since his perfecto against Houston back in June.
His 2012 numbers through June 13? Wicked: 8-2 with a 2.18 ERA and 0.853 WHIP. Cain allowed just seven homers in those first 10 decisions.
Since the perfect game, though, he’s 9-4 with a 3.40 ERA and 1.193 WHIP and has coughed up 17 home runs (three in the postseason alone). While those numbers aren’t exactly horrific, they do confirm what most observers have been thinking for the past couple of months: the second-half Cain is nowhere near as dominant as the first-half Cain.
Still, he’s our ace and on any given day, we’ll take it.
Meanwhile, Kyle Lohse (16-3, 2.86) will toe the rubber for St. Louis.
Lohse’s win-loss percentage is crazy (0.842). He’s even more devastating at Busch Stadium, where he went 8-1 with a 2.33 ERA this season. However, he hasn’t faced the G-men since April 10, 2011, when the Giants managed just five base runners off him in eight innings in a 6-1 loss to the Cards at AT&T Park.
Lohse is all about efficiency. The 34-year old right-hander lasted six or more innings in 11 of his 33 starts in 2012 and threw fewer than 100 pitches in those 11 games. He tossed just 87 pitches through seven innings in a 2-1, NLDS Game 4 loss to Washington and was the man Cardinals skipper Mike Matheny gave the ball to in St. Louis’ 6-3 wild card win over the Braves 12 days ago.
If you read my Game 2 preview, you’ll remember that I said one of the keys to the game for the Giants was getting Angel Pagan on base. Old Crazy Legs must’ve got the memo. Pagan went 2-for-4 on Monday, walked, scored twice, and hit a leadoff homer in the bottom of the first to help the Giants beat the Cardinals 7-1.
The key for the Giants today? Defense. As in, flawless D. No errors. I don’t see San Francisco scoring many runs to begin with and we all know the Cardinals bullpen is money. One or two runs may be all it takes for a win. Cain won’t be perfect today, but San Francisco’s glove work needs to be, or we’ll surely find ourselves in a hole again.
My Game 3 Prediction: Cardinals 3, Giants 1
Game 1: Cardinals 6, Giants 4 (STL leads series 1-0)
Game 2: Giants 7, Cardinals 1 (Series tied 1-1)
Game 3: Giants @ Cardinals: Wed., Oct. 17, 1:00 p.m.
Game 4: Giants @ Cardinals: Thurs., Oct. 18, 5:00 p.m.
Game 5: Giants @ Cardinals: Fri., Oct. 19, 5:00 p.m.
*Game 6: Cardinals @ Giants: Sun., Oct. 21, 1:30 p.m.
*Game 7: Cardinals @ Giants: Mon., Oct. 22, 5:00 p.m.