Tagged: Playoffs

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


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

Can Jeters Make That Much Difference

This postseason we have seen some disputed calls, historic comebacks and injuries. Teams have been retired to watch from afar not from a dugout.

The Yankees ~ a proven team, always seem to be in the postseason mix. Since the season ending injury to SS Derek Jeters late in Game 1 of the ALCS, they have definitely seen better days. However, in their first game against the Tigers, even with Jeters in the game,  they lost 6-4.  Game 2, they were shutout, 3-0 … and that was while they were playing at Yankee Stadium.  Being in Detroit, the Tigers took Game 3, 2-1.

The Yankees find themselves in a possible “one and done” situation for tonight ~ or… they begin to come out of their slump for yet another great comeback. If not to win the ALCS series, at least to give the Tigers a run for the title and pennant. The Yankees hope will be on the mound tonight. Yankees SP CC Sabathia, 15-6/3.38.

Sabathia last pitched against the Orioles to take the win, 3-1, which advanced the Yankees to the ALCS. He “pitched a four-hitter, wriggling out of a bases-loaded jam in the eighth inning. It was his first complete game in 17 postseason starts, and the first for the Yankees since Roger Clemens did it in 2000.”   He has been on ‘rest’ detail since last Friday and was not scheduled to pitch until today’s game ~ Game 4. We will see CC bring his team back on track giving them the confidence they need.  For the Tigers in today’s game will be SP Max Scherzer, 16-7/3.74.

Last night, it was a pitching duel between Yankees SP Hughes and Tigers SP Verlander. Both holding the opposition in check through the third with no runs. However, Hughes excellent pitching began to falter in the fourth for the Yankees. Tigers’ D. Young hit a home run over left field on a 1-2 count. Hughes was retired due to a stiff back. Followed by RP Phelps, who closed out the fourth, but allowed a hit by M Cabrera in the fifth for an RBI.  Even though, the Yankees bullpen held the Tigers without any further runs in the game.

The Tigers SP Justin Verlander continued on course, looking to give the Yankees yet another shutout with only a couple of single hits by the Yankees. The Yankees saw a glimmer of hope with a lead-off homer by Nunez in the ninth off Verlander.  He was retired and the Tigers sent in CP Phil Coke. Coke allowed two hits, with two outs on the board.  But, he was able to wrap things up for the Tigers striking out Ibanez, leaving two runners stranded ~ giving Verlander the win, and adding a second save to his postseason stats.

The Yankees did lose their first game to the Tigers … along with losing Derek Jeters.  Are we seeing proof that one player can make a difference ~ not only on the field or at the plate ~ but as a great ‘support system’ for his team.  It’s not like the Yankees have never lost a game ~ just surprising how their performance has been lacking during this series. Losing Jeters definitely left the Yankees without one of their big hitters, but he’s not the only one in their arsenal. Not injured is Alex Rodriguez. His hitting has gone down the drain and was once again benched earlier in the game last night by manager Girardi.  Even though, the Yankees have Cano, Granderson, Nunez, Suzuki and Swisher who have been key hitters for the Yankees, along with Jeters.  Or, have the Yankees come to an untimely slump, which we know it can happen which is not unknown in baseball.

The Yankees faced the Tigers three times in regular season taking five games out of the nine games played.  They have faced the Tigers pitchers before … but it was with Derek Jeters in the mix. With elimination facing them, now would be the time for the Yankees to chart a different course. Knowing that Jeters will not be returning, will CC Sabathia be the force ~ the spark~ the Yankees need.  Time will tell.

Even with the very real demise facing the Yankees, I can not take away the great play by the Tigers. Not only offensively putting runs on the board, but their pitching staff has proven themselves to be worthy opponents in holding  the Yankees winless. They came back to take the AL Central Division title away from the Chicago White Sox in regular season. They have continued excellent performances throughout postseason.  With hard work and working as a team ~ they have earned their status … taking one game at a time. Should the Tigers sweep the Yankees tonight … or take the series in the end, they will win the pennant after a seven year dry spell and be World Series bound.

The Cardinals and the Giant begin Game 3 in St. Louis later this afternoon, tied in the NLCS series. Rain is in the forecast for the Midwest for today into this evening, with periods of clearing ~ so a rain delay may be possible.  Predicted west winds of 10-15 mph, with gusts up to 30, and temps to begin to drop.  The wind factor shouldn’t be too concerning in Busch Stadium ~ but with 30 mph gusts swirling in the outfield, could make a difference at times.

Enjoy your day ~ Always, Elichap

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

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