The Giants Put The Cardinals in a Cage

As baseball goes and especially for the Cardinals ~ as hot as they were Sunday night, stone cold in last night’s game.  And the Giants ~ take the win, 7-1, to tie the series.

In the top of the first ~ it was Cardinals Matt Holliday that really got the Giants and fans all fired up. Just the spark they needed to forge forward.  In an attempt to break-up a double play off a hit by Craig, Holliday slid into second.  However, his slide was over the bag and right into Giants 2B Scutaro, who was downed sustaining injury to his upper left leg. Holliday was watching over his shoulder at first base when he began his slide not hitting the dirt before the bag, causing a collision that many wanted called as illegal….but wasn’t.  This started the fire for San Francisco.  And, Scutaro would prove to be an important factor later in the game for the Giants.

For Cardinals SP Carpenter, the bottom of the first told the story for the rest of the night for his stint on the mound. Giants Angel Pagan, lead-off hitter, no outs on a 1-2 count, hits one out of the park over right field.  That got the crowd into it early.  Carpenter was having a tough time finding his comfort zone that would cause havoc for the Giants batters.  Just was not there last night for short innings.  But before damage was done for Carpenter, the Giants take their first postseason lead at home which helped to break a three game losing streak on home turf.

Carpenter was retired after the fourth. He allowed six hits for five runs, gave up two walks and only one strike out for a 4.50/ERA. Carpenter’s performance fell short of what he wanted to accomplish ~ just as much as Wainwright’s the night before. Both Cardinal pitchers are contenders, team players ~ satisfaction in only going short innings is just is not acceptable to them. Even though, they both will re-group, work harder to be a help to their team in the near future.

The Cardinals pitching has been on a “wing and prayer” all season with injuries of one pitcher, or another.  A bullpen that has been lacking at times. But, they have come this far….their season is not finished yet.

It was Giants SP Vogelsong who had a great night, comfortable and unrelenting on the mound.  He went for seven very strong innings only allowing four hits. Chris Carpenter, for a moment, worked the bat against his adversary. He hit a double off Vogelsong for a single RBI in the second for the Cardinals to see their only run and tie in the game. Vogelsong gave up two walks and had four strike outs for an 1.29/ERA.  He held the Cardinals in check to be the first of the Giants’ starters to make it through six innings this postseason. “This was his first career postseason win.”

In both Sunday’s game and last night, the fourth seems to the magic inning when runs add up on the board. As the Cardinals had done on Sunday, it was no different for the Giants in last nights match-up. And, Cardinals Chris Carpenter felt the pangs of seeing the game slip away from him.

Giants Crawford was safe at first on an error by Carpenter with an RBI. Scutaro, who was injured in the first, came to the plate for a single for a two run RBI. Pagan scored on an error by Holliday. Now the Giants held the lead, 5 -1, which the Cardinals were not able to overcome.  In the eighth ~ former Cardinal Theriot hit a single off Cardinal RP Miller for a two run RBI which pretty much “sealed the deal” for the Giants.

Giants Marco Scutaro left the dugout in the fifth, x-rays proved negative to any major injury…but he will likely have a very healthy “contusion” to contend with.  However, happy that’s all he sustained.  Baseball can be hard hitting ~ that’s part of the sport.  We don’t see as much of that today as we have in years/seasons of old. Even though … Scutaro proved to be an intricate part of the Giants victory before leaving the game.

The two teams travel to St Louis’ Busch Stadium where the Cardinals will host the Giants. Tied in the series ~ which we have seen the Cardinals in this position before.  But the Giants were given an edge with their recent victory.  So the “teeter-totter” days for the Cardinals have to be discarded if they want to seriously stay in this race.

The Tigers and the Yankees will resume their series today, now in Detroit.  Without Derek Jeters, will the Yankees be able to overcome the Tiger’s who hold a 2-0 edge for the ALCS.  For today’s game it will be Yankees SP Phil Hughes against the very strong Tigers SP Justin Verlander.  I would say Hughes is going to have to give the performance of his season/postseason for the Yankees to have a chance in this race.

To all ~ have a great day.  Those Bronco fans out there … continue to enjoy their comeback win over the Chargers! Now that was Sweet!!  Yes … not so much a Bronco’s fan, as I am a Peyton Manning fan!!  “)

Always ~ Elichap

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Cardinals Start Off in the NLCS ~ Take Game One Against the Giants

With the explosive win over the Washington Nationals to advance to the NLCS, the Cardinals are beginning with determination against the San Francisco Giants.

What a performance last night ~ David Freese two run homer in the second. RBI’s by Pete Kozma and Jon Jay. Carlos Beltran adding a two run homer for his 14th HR in postseason and 32 overall.  But David Freese said it all ~ in the last game of their previous series, the Nationals were up by 6.  In last night’s game, the Cardinals were up by 6 …. proves, you must continue to play hard ~ there are no guarantees.

Both starting pitchers, Cardinals Lance Lynn and Giants Madison Bumgarner were retired early in the game … each only going 3.2 innings.  Bumgarner allowed the Cardinals their 6 runs into the top of the fourth, one walk and only two strike outs for a 14.73 on the mound last night.

Even though Lynn closed out the regular season with a record of 18-7, he was stepped down to the bullpen during the season to recapture his great pitching skills, with evidence on the mound, were in decline.  Lynn, was reinstated into the line-up to replace Jaime Garcia, who is out for the season due to surgery on his left rotator cup. As much as Bumgarner was having problems, Lynn didn’t fair too much better starting off the bottom of the fourth ~ even though prior innings he had held the Giants in check.  He allowed the Giants their four runs, one walk and only 2 strike outs, for a 9.82 for his stint on the mound.

It was the relief pitchers who came in for both teams that stopped any further damage ~ especially for the Cardinals.  Cardinals RP Mujica, who came in for the seventh inning ~ three up, three down ~ taking the win with CP Jason Motte getting his second postseason save.  Along with outstanding offense performances, the Cardinals defense held up to the test, also.

The Giants aren’t without their woes, especially at home in their AT&T Park. This is their third loss at home in postseason and have been outscored 20-6.  Some players have stated that it’s easier to play away without the pressure of the home field. Maybe this is the case for the Giants.  If that is true, will we see the Cardinals at 2-0 before returning to St. Louis and Busch Stadium. If that is the case, the Cardinals have to stand their ground with the Giants being “away”.

I believe, not only David Freese, but all the Cardinals realize ~ there are no guarantees.  At the moment, they are playing as a team ~ seemingly feeding off one another’s energy.  It was yet another exciting game ~ but a new game begins tonight and they must keep their energy going.

For tonight’s game it will be Cardinals SP Chris Carpenter who returned to the line-up, after his Tommy John’s surgery last season, the latter part of the regular season pitching three games.  “Carp” is 0-2/3.71, but don’t let that deceive you. He did have a win against the Nationals which gave the Cardinals with a 2-1 lead in that series.  Chris is improving with each time out and he’s a contender taking his work very seriously for his team ~ and, I’m sure tonight will be no exception.  He is slated to pitch against Giants Ryan Vogelsong, 14-9/3.37.

This will be our only play-off game for tonight as the Yankees ~ Tigers travel to Detroit for their game three. The Tigers gained a second game in their series by blanking the Yankees yesterday, 3-0.

And also sharing T.V. time will be the Denver Bronco’s at San Diego against the Chargers. Never a shortage of sport events to enjoy.

Have a great day!  Always ~ Elichap

The Rally in League History ~ The Cardinals Take The Honor

I’m still a bit numb this morning, as I’m sure the Nationals and their fans are, too.  Mine comes from a dream-like state, knowing the Cardinals had it in them to overcome. For the Nationals ~ total disbelief of what transpired.  The Cardinals have proven throughout the year, the teeter-totter they were on … they would manage to come out on top. It has been proven, that when the chips were on the table and the pressure was on, the Cardinals found a way to come through with a victory.

The Nationals have been an extraordinary team throughout the season, holding the best overall W/L record in the league. They were no less in this series.  Great players ~ great fans had their back. The Cardinals and the Nationals were tied in their five game series.  Last night was the “one and done“.  Last night was the game to end one team’s season for the year.

The Nationals started off out of the gate against Cardinals SP Adam Wainwright, with one out in the mix, he allowed three runs, which included a two run homer by Zimmerman, before Wainwright ended the first. The Nationals were held to their three run lead in the second. But, started up again against Wainwright in the third ~ solo home run by Harper on a full count, then a two run homer by Morse on an 0-0 count. Cardinals Wainwright had to concede to the Nationals challenge and was retired during the third. As much as Wainwright wanted to go the distance … Cardinals bullpen definitely performed their best to keep the Nationals in check.

The Cardinals were looking at a six run deficit going into the fourth. Even though, they began making their move. Holliday doubled with a RBI to put the Cards on the board. As much as Wainwright had his pitching woes, the Nationals SP Gio Gonzalez began experiencing his own; however, only gave up one vs. six. But the fifth inning proved to be no better for Gonzalez…the Cardinals had the bases loaded and on a wild pitch, brought in second run for the Cardinals. Still in the fifth, bases loaded once again….Gonzalez walked Craig, adding yet another run cutting the Nationals lead in half. Gonzalez was retired after the fifth.

With the Nationals bullpen, the Cardinals were able to add yet another run in the seventh. The Cardinals were inching their way, inning by inning.  I believe it was in the eighth inning that really fired the Cardinals up with a home run by Descalso to bring the Cardinals within one run of the Nationals. The Nationals would not be denied with a single by Suzuki for an RBI.  Score ~ Nationals 7 – Cardinals 5

Then the unbelievable happened ~ ninth inning stretch. Nationals CP Storen had two outs on the board, two strikes ~ Descalso at the plate hits a single which deflecting off the glove of SS Desmond for a double RBI.  Game tied.  All Storen needed was one more out to give his team a chance ~ much as the night before with Werth’s walk-off homer. Cardinals Kozma was at the plate, hits a single for another double RBI to take the lead. Storen got his third out but not before damage was done.

Cardinals CP Jason Motte ~ did what he does so well and has throughout the season.  In the bottom of the ninth ~ Nationals team and fans, reality of the moment, seeing their victory slipping away ~ Motte shuts down the Nationals to giving him and his team the win, 9-7.  Cardinals still have “magic” in postseason play.

By the record book, the Cardinal’s comeback has never been achieved before. It was the largest deficit for a team to overcome and “winner take all” in postseason game.

To the Nationals ~ what a great team and will be a force next season. I don’ believe they will take this defeat lightly come next year ~ they will be on a mission.

To the Cardinals ~ Congratulations on a great series, a great outcome against the “Best of the Best” Nationals in a hard fought battle. In sports ~ on any given day anything is possible …. even the unbelievable accomplishments of the Cardinals. Team effort has gotten the Cardinals to this point, but the player for last night’s game, MVP, who gets my vote is 2B Daniel Descalso.  He’s the one who got the fire started for his team.

Next stop for the Cardinals will be to face the San Francisco Giants for the NLCS series. First game will be on Sunday.  I’m sure St. Louis is still celebrating their good fortune regarding the victory of their home team.  Even though, tomorrow begins anew.

To all ~ enjoy your day.  Always, Elichap

Two In ~ Two Left To Be Decided

What a day for exciting playoff games. Yesterday, two teams advanced to the NLCS. The San Francisco Giants held on to their lead, but not without a moment in the ninth when the Cincinnati Reds looked to be making a come back with two men on and Ludwig at the plate. He hit a single to left for an RBI…cutting the Giants lead to two. Two runners on ~ but Giants CP Romo did his job and held the Reds with just one run. Giants win, 6-4. The Giants are the first team ever to have a comeback from being 0-2 and winning three straight in “away” games to take a series.

The Detroit Tigers continued their very strong play with a shutout over the Oakland A’s, 6-0. The Tigers winning pitcher and gets the shutout ~ Justin Verlander.  Justin went nine innings, only allowed four hits, had one walk and with eleven strike outs for a .56 in yesterday’s game to take the series for the Tigers.

Two games are left for today to decide who will advance to play the Giants and the Tigers. The Baltimore Orioles, once again proved their nemesis status for the Yankees, taking the win, 2-1.

The remaining pair ~ the St. Louis Cardinals against the Washington Nationals. It was a duel of the pitchers.  Both Cardinals SP Kyle Lohse and Nationals SP Ross Detwiler worked hard and kept each of their opposing teams in check. Lohse pitched through the seventh inning, allowed 2 hits, one run which was a solo home run by LaRoche in the second, walked one, with five strike outs. Detwiler was in for six. He allowed three hits, 1 run – a RBI by Cardinals Carlos Beltran in the third. Detwiler had 3 walks and two strike outs. With great defense from both teams, they helped their pitchers to hold the tie, 1-1.

The relief pitchers for the Nationals were unrelenting. The Cardinals had gone cold with seven straight strike outs into the ninth. The Nationals RP Drew Storen held the Cardinals with only one run on the board to close the top of the ninth. The Cardinals were hopeful of extra innings, bringing RP Lance Lynn to the mound.  Nationals Jayson Werth was lead-off hitter. Lynn throwing pitch after pitch to a full count, pitching total adding up to thirteen, Werth would not be denied. He connects with a perfect pitch over the plate sailing the high flier into the Nationals bullpen. The Nationals win the game with a walk-off homer by Werth, 2-1.  And with a crowd of 44,392 who had been standing and encouraging their team since the beginning of the seventh inning ~ went wild. Werth rounded the bases, index finger extended in recognition of their support for their “#1” team.

Nationals Detwiler gets the win, Storen the save. Cardinals Lance Lynn, the loss. Offensively, both teams were lacking yesterday, but all it takes is one hit to make a difference … and Werth found the one.

So it goes down to the wire showdown for our remaining four teams. For the Baltimore Orioles it will be SP Hammel, 8-6/3.43 against the NY Yankees SP C Sabathia, 15-6/3.38.

For the St. Louis Cardinals and the Nationals it will be a repeat of their first game for starting pitchers. Cardinals Adam Wainwright, 14-13/3.94 will face Gio Gonzalez, 21-8/2.89. The Nationals won that game ~ will the Cardinals have the force to comeback and change the outcome. Today is yet another “one and done” situation for the Cardinals.

Even though we have had some exciting games in the playoffs, I would like to add a special note. Yankees manager Joe Girardi’s father passed away last weekend.  My condolences and sympathies go out to Joe and the Girardi family.

To all ~ may you enjoy the games later this afternoon and evening. Who will we see on on the schedule for the NLCS seven game stretch.  Good luck to all!

Always, Elichap

What an Afternoon For a Playoff Game

Cardinals Chris Carpenter is back ~ Nationals holding Strasburg out … and will be one of the high subject matters in post season. Especially if the Nationals are knocked out. Even though ~ this afternoon’s game …..

This afternoon was Game 3  ~ Cardinals in Washington against the Nationals.  Series tied.  Cardinals SP Chris Carpenter against Nationals Edwin Jackson.  And what a show for the Cardinals and Chris Carpenter.  Carpenter no only had a shutout, but two hits at bat ~ one single – inches away from being a HR, and one lead off double.  Kozma has a 3 run homer ~ the first rookie to do so in post season since Chris Duncan, 2006.  Beltran had a great hit, which bounced on the outfield track and into the Nationals dugout for a double.  Holliday had a 2 run RBI. Descalso and Craig both added RBI’s.  Freese had a sacrifice hit for an RBI.  The Carp came off the field after 5.2 innings with Rosenthal to follow.

Defensive plays of the day for the Cardinals ~ Harper hits towards first, stopped by FB Craig ~ toss to RP Rosenthal who was one step in front of Harper to the bag.  Harper out.  Nationals Morse hits a long ball to center field, Beltran makes a great catch on the fence robbing Morse of any extra bases.

Cardinals RP Salas in for the eighth … 1-2-3 … 9th. coming up. Cardinals were held to no additional runs. Cardinals pitcher Joe Kelly in for the close. 1 – 2 down. Werth up ~ walked. Harper gets one last chance at bat ~ high fly to center, caught by Jon Jay.  Cardinals Chris Carpenter gets the win and shutout.  Joe Kelly did an excellent job to close out the game.

Definite a “team” game today!

“Meanwhile, in addition to Kozma claim to fame, Carpenter is just the second pitcher in major-league history to start and win a postseason game after going winless during the regular season. The first was Virgil “Fire” Trucks, who started just once in 1945 before winning a game for the Tigers against the Cubs in the 1945 World Series.”   Another record broken in the baseball history books.

Fun day to watch baseball ~ Cardinals win over the Nationals, 8-0.  Now lead their series, 2-1.

Enjoy your games ~ enjoy your evening.

Life is good!!!  “)  Enjoy the rest of the games.  Always, Elichap

Cardinal Win The WC2 ~ With Controversial Call

As we have seen many times with the Cardinals … the opposing team scores first.  The Braves started out strong putting two runs on the board early in the game ~ bottom of the second.  Braves Ross was at the plate, 2 outs for Cardinals SP Lohse. Looking at the third out, Ross called timeout just as Lohse threw the ball. Home plate ump stepped out in front waving for the time out, as Ross swung and missed ~ cancelling the third strike.  Lohse delivers his next pitch which Ross took advantage of knocking it out of the park for a two run homer.

However, for Cardinals Craig started the team off in the fourth with a RBI, solo HR by Holliday put them up by one. Then they added two more runs, 5-2. Molina, Holliday, Freese and M. Carpenter also added RBI’s to their stats. The game was moving along with strategy and good play, except the errors committed by the Braves.  The Braves have had the least amount of errors in the league during the regular season, but not yesterday. And the Cardinals definitely took advantage of their mistakes with unearned runs.

Then we get to the bottom of the eighth inning and things got a bit dicey. Braves were trying their best to overcome ~ added an additional run off RP Mujica.  Cardinals RP Boggs was brought to the mound.  Chipper Jones was at the plate.  Boggs walked him. Ross gets a single. Simmons up – high fly inside the 3rd base line … Cardinals SS Kozma began to drift towards the ball which carried past the dirt into the outfield. The umpire called an infield fly ball – Simmons out at first. The motion from the third base umpire was slow … the ball coming down in between LF Holliday and Kozma.  Looks like Kozma has the catch, but backs off and the ball drops between Holliday and himself. With the stadium noise,  signal by the umpire ~ did Kozma hear Holliday to hold up or did he see the umpire indicating the infield fly.  From my seat, look to be an error on Kozma; however, I did not see Holbrook’s motion at the base line.

Of course, the Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez came out and after much discussion ~ protested the call. Bottles and debris from the upper deck began to cover the outfield. Players from both teams were removed from the field and the umpires all met on the mound to avoid injury. As the crew was cleaning up the field, the decision was being discussed and disclosed later.  MLB executive Joe Torre stated the protest had been denied.

The Cardinals over the Braves, 6-3.  Lohse gets the win and CP Motte the save. The customary celebration on the field was quickly moved to the locker room for the Cardinals.  Matheny wanted the players off the field. “The Braves haven’t won a playoff round since 2001. Since then, they’ve gone 0 for 7 – including six decisive losses at Turner Field.” Chipper Jones, retiring after 19 seasons, refusing any blame on the umpiring.  He stated they had beat themselves with the three errors, which one of those was his own in the fourth inning.

Ugly as it was, the Cardinals come out victorious and will face the Nationals (98-64) on Sunday at Busch Stadium for two games, before heading East. I believe this whole concept of Commissioner Bud Selig’s brainstorm has lessened the greatness of the sport. Don’t get me wrong, I am a Cardinal fan and elated at their success. However, with sharing the worst record of the teams in the playoffs ~ matching that of the Tigers (88-74) ~ playing in this “first time ever” WC2 game … at this next level, why should the WC2 winning team have home field advantage.  The way I look at it, the WC2 winner should travel to the home field of, not only a division winner, but the league’s best record holder. If the team is to move up, would it not be to prove they are truly worthy. But we stick with the “regular play-off” format ~ the division winners traveling to the home park of the team with the lesser W/L record.

But this “one game only WC2” brainstorm of Selig’s escapes me ~ other than his grand thought of additional revenue.  Many stated when the plan was announced ~ “will be interesting to see how this plays out”.  It certainly was  interesting ~ scary even ~ and I learned about the infield fly ball rule.  Yesterday’s game will not be remembered for great plays, home runs, RBI’s …. or even errors made ~ but an umpire supposedly deciding the outcome.  And many will argue that it should be the Nationals coming to Atlanta (94-69) to begin the play-offs vs a WC2 game.  I can’t blame them.  Seemed ridiculous when announced ~ but an added mystery at the same time.

I was sorry to see the Rangers eliminated by the Orioles, 5-1. The Ranger’s have worked hard for the past three seasons to “get over the hump”, but seems the continued strength of the Orioles was proven while at Arlington Park, and took the win.

Today baseball continues with the Oakland A’s (94-68) against the Detroit Tigers. The Cincinnati Reds (97-65) taking on the San Francisco Giants (94-68).

Whatever the outcome of your team may be … We have new teams and it will make this post season very interesting. Which will make it in for the World Series and take the Championship ~ would be interesting to to see an intrastate battle … the Giants against the A’s!  What a concept.

To all ~ have a very enjoyable day!  Always ~ Elichap

Cardinals Get Help From The Giants

Yes, the Cardinals made it in to post season playoffs with the help from the Giants defeating the LA Dodgers. The Dodgers have been threatening for the past 6 games to overtake St. Louis. And before game times yesterday, there were still five questionable endings as to who would be in the playoffs.  Not so much in the NL, but in the AL.  However, once all was done ~ the A’s, Yankees and Tigers were crowned as Champs of their respective divisions.  In the NL, really no surprises with the Nationals, Reds and Giants taking their respective division titles.

The Cardinals wrapping up their series with the Reds in Busch Stadium ~ euphoria overtook the stadium, with a win, 1-0.  Cardinals manager Matheny held out seven of the regulars. Where as Reds manager Dusty Baker played his regulars in the game. It was Cardinals SP Shelby Miller on the mound against Reds SP Bailey.  A standoff at “OK Corral”!  Until the 8th inning, with a RBI by Cardinals Matt Carpenter for the one run.  Cardinals CP Jason Motte came in for the save.  Mood point, maybe ~ but the final game of the season … now the Cardinals team and fans could truly celebrate their advancement to the playoffs.

The Cardinals travel to Atlanta to take on the Braves.  Wild Card 2.  Cardinals SP Kyle Lohse, 16-3/2.86 will be up against Braves Medlin, 10-1/1.57.  Importance = “One and done”.   The Cardinals and the Braves last meeting, May 11-13, the Braves swept the Cards in their three game series.  The Cardinals’ mindset has to be “absolute” for their payback ~ if they want to advance to defend their title … it’s a must win. Playing in the Braves home part will not make it any easier.  The Braves have been contenders throughout the season, and they too will be looking to advance.  And I’m sure Braves Chipper Jones would enjoy another try for a World Series ring.

Out West, Thursday night in their WC game, will be the Texas Rangers hosting the Baltimore Orioles at Arlington Stadium. The Rangers SP Darvish, 16-9/3.90 will be up against ~ yet TBD by the Orioles.  This will be the third season in a row the Rangers have had a chance for the World Series … is there true lucky number ~ 3.

The excitement continues into our post season ~ new teams in the mix is good to see.  To all ~ enjoy!

Always, Elichap