Tagged: Carlos Beltran

Giants Vogelson Proves to be Cardinals Achilles’ Heel

“An Achilles’ heel is a deadly weakness in spite of overall strength, that can actually or potentially lead to downfall. While the mythological origin refers to a physical vulnerability, idiomatic references to other attributes or qualities that can lead to downfall are common.”  This is exactly what Giants SP Vogelson and team has been for the Cardinals ~ not only in Game 2, but in Game 6 last night.  The Giants handled the defending champions well taking the win, 6-1 and tied the series, 3-3. This was the second match-up for Cardinals SP C Carpenter and Giants SP Vogelson.

Ryan Vogelson went seven innings and had a career record nine strike-outs. Only allowing 4 hits, and one walk for a 1.29. A glimmer of hope for the Cardinals in the sixth. Beltran connected for a double, followed by Craig with a single bringing in Beltran for the Cardinal’s to put a run on the board. Their hope was soon deflated, and that was the only run the Cardinals would see for the night.

The Giants took advantage of Cardinals SP Chris Carpenter. Carpenter had returned to the line-up late in the regular season to replace the injured Jake Westbrook. He was coming back  from Tommy John surgery, had only pitched three games, 0-2/3.71 ERA in 17 innings pitched. For this series, he is 0-2 and, once again, had problems right out of the gate.  Unfortunately, he did not settle in until the third. However, the damage of the Giants offense within the first two innings let their presence be known, with one run in the first and adding four more in the second. Carpenter allowed the Giants six hits, five runs, two walks and the high note for Carpenter ~ did come out with six strike-outs before being retired after the fourth. He was not able to lead his team to the promise land.

The Cardinals looked tired, sluggish, and almost a defeatist attitude as they approached the  plate. LF Matt Holliday had been held out of the game due to lower back stiffness and replaced with Matt Carpenter in the line-up.  1B Craig was moved into LF, and M Carpenter to cover 1B. With ineffective pitching and having players in positions unfamiliar, also, added to the Cardinals frustration. They did get five hits from M Carpenter, Beltran, Craig, Descalso and Kozma but were unable to ignite anything beyond their one run.

The Giants proved, in front of their home crowd, they were just as much a “comeback” team as the Cardinals have been. Even though, we are not finished yet with series tied, 3-3, Game 7 ~ “winner take all” ~ is tonight.

There is rain in the forecast for the Bay Area today, so that could pose a possible postponement of the game.  However, it looks like the rain will settle in through tomorrow, also.  So that will remain to be seen.  Should the game be postponed and re-scheduled for Tuesday ~ that brings both teams right up to opening day for the World Series.  Granted, the Giants are at home, so no travel involved should they win.  However, should the Cardinals be victorious, travel back to St. Louis to play Wednesday. Either or ~ the Giants or the Cardinals ~ will face the well rested Detroit Tigers who took the ALCS pennant, in four games against the Yankees, adding three extra days rest, just waiting to see who their opponent will be.

For Game 7, it will be Cardinals Kyle Lohse, 16-3/2.86 against Giants Matt Cain, 16-5/2.79.  In regular season, Cain had only pitched once against the Cardinals on May 17, which the Giants won 7-5.  Lohse had never faced the Giants until postseason.  This is a rematch for the pitchers as they faced one another in Game 3, Oct 17 in St. Louis, Cardinals winning, 3-1. Lohse took the win, 1-0/1.59 against Cain, 0-1/4.05.  Out of all the SP’s for the Cardinals, I would say Lohse is their bullet currently.

It has been reported that Wainwright may be part of the Cardinals relief pitching for tonight’s game. Tim Lincecum has been added to the bullpen for the Giants.  Should that scenario become reality for the Cardinals, in the event Lohse can sustain the Giants through six or seven innings, with Wainwright in the bullpen, along with CP Jason Motte ~ could prove quite the combination.  However, the Cardinals offense has got to come alive ~ as we know they are capable of at the plate. ~ Because !! The Giants are 5-1 when scoring first in postseason play.

Another consideration for the Cardinals manager Matheny, should Jon Jay remain in the lead-off position. Jay has been at bat 25 times, only 5 hits with 1 double, 3 RBI’s and only at .200 for the NLCS. Would Craig or Beltran, at this juncture, be better suited.  Jay is an excellent player for the Cardinals and had done well during regular season ~ just has not been able to “connect” at the plate to get things going for his team during this series. I have no idea if Matheny will give thought to this consideration for tonight’s game. Just seems Jay, at the moment, may be better suited a bit down the line.

“While the Giants have won five straight games facing elimination this postseason, the Cardinals have won their last six dating to last year. This is the first time the NLCS has gone seven games since 2006, when St. Louis beat the New York Mets 3-1 at Shea Stadium. Carlos Beltran, now with the Cardinals, struck out looking when Adam Wainwright froze him on a curveball.”

Last night’s game, both offensively and defensively, the Cardinals certainly didn’t display too much enthusiasm. As for the Giants ~ “they were comfortable in their own skin” ~

So to Game 7 ~ “winner take all” ~ “one and done”.  Do the Cardinals have the gumption not to be denied yet another victory.  I don’t believe the Giants will be very accommodating with the efforts they have shown.

Even so, I still believe in #12-n-12 ~ who is waiting in the wings to return to help his team.

To all ~ enjoy your games. The Chicago Bears (4-1) host the Detroit Lions (2-3) in tonight’s MNF.  First time the Lions have played at Soldier Field on a Monday night in six meetings of the two teams.  Another exciting night in sports.

Have a great day! Always ~ Elichap

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Barry Zito Keeps Hope Alive for the Giants in NLCS Game 5

One good thing about last night’s game for the Cardinals against the Giants in Game 5, they remain in the lead for the series, 3-2.  That would be the only positive the Cardinals were able to walk away with after Giants SP Barry Rito did an excellent job shutting them down, 5-0.

And, for Tim Lincecum ~ you have nothing to feel bad about, except maybe, walking away without a tied series after Thursday’s game.  In comparison to the performance of Cardinals SP Lance Lynn, in last night’s game ~ a bad night happens.

As fired up and “on” as the Cardinals were in Game 4, there was no evidence of that even with seven hits by the Cardinals in last night’s Game 5.  Giants Barry Rito made sure six runners on were left stranded. With Giants CP Sergio Romo taking care of the seventh. Rito put up great numbers for his win and a shutout ~ going 7.2 innings, with six hits, obviously no runs, one walk and six strike-outs for an 0.00/ERA for the night.

On the flip-side of the coin, Cardinals SP Lance Lynn was smacked by the strong offense of the Giants. Lynn had struck out five of the first ten batters through the third. His undoing came in the fourth when he made a toss on a possible force-out which deflected off the second-base bag, paving the way for the Giants’ fourth giving up four unearned runs with RBI’s by Pence, Crawford and Zito off four hits. He allowed two walks, but did have six strike-outs to his credit. Lynn was retired after 3.2 innings with a 4.91. The Cardinals bullpen were doing their best to hold the Giants at four runs ~ waiting for their offense to ignite.  Down to the eighth with RP Boggs on the mound, facing lead-off batter Pablo Sandoval at the plate on a full count, gave Sandoval a pitch to connect with for a solo home run.

However, Giants Barry Zito has experienced his woes on the mound as well. This was his first postseason win since 2006. “Zito was left off the postseason roster when the Giants won the 2010 World Series because he had pitched so ineffectively. He started Game 4 of the division series against the Reds earlier in this year’s playoffs and lasted only 2 2-3 innings.”  I don’t believe there are any pitchers who have been without games they would really like to forget.  But for all intent and purpose ~ Zito did very well for his team last night, not only on the mound … but at the plate as well.

In last night’s line-up for the Cardinals, manager Matheny placed RF Carlos Beltran back in their active roster. Beltran had not been in the line-up since after the first inning of Wednesday’s game. He had been placed on the day-to-day DL due to a strained left knee.  Matt Carpenter had been his replacement and made quite a difference for the Cardinals. With wanting to take the win, close this series out at home, take the pennant … the question will always be ~ why? Beltran could have had an extra day’s rest … in the event of a win = an additional four days rest for Beltran to be ready to face the Detroit Tigers in the World Series.

Matt Carpenter had been key player both offensively and defensively in Games 3 and 4. We know Beltran has proven to be a very valuable player for the Cardinals, but it takes a team effort to win. The team seemingly had a fire going with M. Carpenter in the line-up … why change a good combination for this one game.  Now …. had Beltran been able to hit a double, triple or home run to get runs on the board and the Cardinals had taken the win ~ the decision would have been viewed as excellent planning. But they didn’t see such an outcome. With M. Carpenter in the line-up ~ the outcome of last night’s game could not have been any worse, but certainly could have been a positive difference. So why change a very good mix for one game as important as this one. However, it is what it was ~ the Cardinals just could not seal the deal.

Now the Cardinals travel back to San Francisco for Game 6 on Sunday.  It will be a re-match with Cardinals SP Chris Carpenter, 0-1/4.50 against Giants Ryan Vogelson, 1-0/1.29.   They faced one another in Game 2, Oct. 15th, with Carpenter only going 4 innings in that game.  Vogelson pitched a complete game for the Giants to take the win, 7-1, which tied the series at that point.

Once again, the Cardinals face the possible “one and done” situation away from home should the Giants take Game 6 to tie the series.  Of course, the Giants will be looking at the same, should they do so ~ however, the Giants sit in that position currently with the Cardinals lead in the series.

The Cardinals have overcome such a situation winning over the Braves and the Nationals on the road.  The Giants lost their first two games against the Reds at home, but came back to take 3 straight on the road to advance them to the NLCS.  We will have to wait to see if the Giants continue to win at AT&T Park … or will the road game for the Cardinals be to their benefit.  Aaaah ~ just have to love baseball for all it’s possibilities.

Until tomorrow ~ college football is in abundance today.  Enjoy your respective teams … and good luck to all.

Have a great day!  Always ~ Elichap

Rain Didn’t Bother The St. Louis Cardinals

Game 3 of the NLCS got underway on time yesterday afternoon ~ with the known forecast of severe weather heading towards St. Louis.  Predicted not to hit the area until late afternoon.  Busch Stadium was full to the brim and the white “terrible towels” waving by enthusiastic Cardinal fans ~ with rain gear stowed just in case.

Cardinals SP Kyle Lohse was up against the Giants SP Matt Cain. Tough adversaries on the mound.  Both held for two scoreless innings – until the until the third with the Giants scoring first with a ground out by Sandoval and Pagan able to put a run on the board.

For the Cardinals, it was Matt Carpenter who was, in my mind, the MVP in the game. Beltran was held out of the game after the first inning due to a strained left knee which occurred running out a double play. In the third, manager Matheny replaced Beltran with M Carpenter in the line-up.  John Jay, lead-off batter had a single, but was able to advance to second on a pick-off error by Cain. Then, it was showtime for Matt Carpenter coming to the plate. This was Carpenter’s first appearance in the NLCS. With little time to think, once again he faced Cain on the mound. Carpenter had been strong against Cain in regular season hitting four for four singles. The count was 0-2 in Cain’s favor, but Carpenter would not be denied. On 2-2 count, Carpenter connected with a hanging slider for a two run homer. The Cardinals were now in the lead, 2-1.

Both pitchers had their problems on the mound, even though Cain went longer than Lohse. Cardinals Kyle Lohse was retired after 5 2/3 innings with two runners on, two outs on the board. With Giants Pagan next at the plate, manager Matheny brought in RP Rosenthal. Pagan hit a grounder for a fielder’s choice and Cain was out at second. Rosenthal left the two runners stranded, holding the Cardinals with the lead. Between Cardinals RP Mujica and Boggs, they were able to keep the Giants at one run through the sixth and seventh innings.

The storm front was approaching and rain beginning to fall in the seventh ~ with looming reports of the front moving closer with 60 mph winds and severe lightning in a nearby county. Cain had the bases loaded, with two outs. Cardinals Shane Robinson was up to bat.  He grounded out with a RBI to give the Cardinals another run, now a 2 run lead. Cardinals Kozma and Descalso advanced.  Cain was retired and  “game delay” was called, bringing the tarp out  just moments before the major portion of the severe storm hit.

In postseason play, game in progress, play is resumed no matter how long it takes for a weather front to move through. After a 3 hour and 28 minute delay, the tarp was removed ~ with large puddles still standing the corner of the right field track ~ the game resumed. Cardinals CP Motte came in for the eighth – 3 up, 3 down and only nine pitches.  He also squashed any hopes for the Giants in the ninth.  Approximately, 23 minutes after the delay ~ the Cardinals take the win, 3-1 and a 2-1 lead for the series. A win for Lohse, and once again, a save for Jason Motte.

As much as the Giants ended their losing streak at home with their win to tie the series, the Cardinals were able to end another stat for the Giants.  Their loss last night ended a six game winning streak on the road. And, it was Matt Cain’s second loss for postseason play.

It was a great afternoon into the night for the Cardinals and fans alike. A great day for Matt Carpenter ~ not only to help our his team, but his mom and dad were in the stands. Beginning their trip at 2:30 yesterday morning, they had driven 9 1/2 hours to watch the game, unknowing that their son would be placed in the line-up. And what a performance they were able to see by their son. Matt knocking the ball out of the park to take the lead over the Giants. For mom and dad, his team and fans alike ~ he made them all proud. For himself ~ “this is what you train for … a player does what he can to help out”. And, that he did.

As the front moved towards the Detroit area late afternoon/early evening ~ the ALCS Game 4 for the Tigers and the Yankees scheduled to begin at 7:00 CST ~ was postponed until this afternoon.

Even though the major cold front moved through the area last night, there is still a 50% chance of rain in the St. Louis area for tonight with temps a bit cooler than the 71 degrees of yesterday.  With that possibility, will managers Matheny and Bochy reconsider their starting pitchers for tonight. Slated is Cardinals SP Adam Wainwright (14-13/3.94) and Giants SP Tim Lincecum (10-15/5.18). Or, will they stay the course and not worry about the weather forecast.

Also, this evening we have the NFL Thursday Night game kicking off Week 7. The Seattle Seahawks, coming off a win this past weekend, playing in San Francisco  against the 49er’s, who lost their home game Sunday.  Both teams are at 4-2.

To all ~ enjoy the games.  Always ~ Elichap

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