With a 2-1 series lead, the St. Louis Cardinals are two wins away from their fourth World Series berth in the last nine years.
The 2-1 lead comes after a Game 3 win last night, which the Cards won 3-1 thanks in part to a Matt Carpenter home run. The Cardinals were able to keep the San Francisco Giants’ offense in check after the game was delayed for more than three hours.
Game 4 will feature an even pitching matchup. Adam Wainwright will take the hill for the Cardinals, and Tim Lincecum has officially been announced the starter for the Giants.
Lincecum, who didn’t pitch well during the regular season, has yet to start a game in the playoffs. He has however made three appearances, all of which he has come out of the bullpen.
In those three appearances, which have totaled for 8.1 innings pitched, Lincecum has nine strikeouts. In Game 4 of the NLDS, his best postseason outing so far, he only allowed two hits and one run in 4.1 innings.
Bruce Bochy hopes that the two-time Cy Young winner will pitch like he has in years past and even the series at 2-2.
On the Cardinals side of things, Wainwright has started twice against the Giants this year.
His first start against them was on Aug. 9. In that outing, he pitched seven innings while only allowing one run. As for his second, he let up five runs. Only two were earned, but Wainwright still was credited for the loss and only lasted 5.2 innings.
Unlike Lincecum, Wainwright hasn’t seen much success pitching in the postseason. He owns a 7.88 ERA in his two starts, and wasn’t credited a decision in either game.
Even though they won Game 3, the Cardinals need to get back some of their offense that they saw against the Washington Nationals. They averaged more than six runs a game during the NLDS, and so far in the NLCS they are only averaging 3.3.
The possibility of missing Carlos Beltran, their most consistent batter this postseason, will devastate the lineup. Beltran is batting .414 in the playoffs and has only failed to record a hit in two playoff games.
If Beltran is out, the Cardinals will look to other leaders such as Allen Craig, but Craig is one of the few struggling Cardinals. He has no hits in his last 13 at-bats.
Nonetheless, the Cardinals have a one-game lead, so Mike Matheny won’t make too many drastic changes.
The Giants offense hasn’t been that much better as they have averaged four runs a game so far this series and are a loss away from facing an elimination game.
Elimination games are nothing new to the Giants though, they faced three of them in the NLDS and won them all.
What has been troubling for the Giants though, is getting hits with runners on base. They left 11 runners on base in Game 3 and seven in Game 2.
The Cardinals have Beltran, but the Giants have not had a dominant batter in the playoffs so far. No Giant has more than two home runs or has a batting average of .300 or better.
This series Angel Pagan has stuck out a bit. He hit a leadoff home run in Game 2 and scored the only run for the Giants in Game 3.
If the Giants win, they will put some serious pressure on the Cardinals to win Game 5. The Cardinals will not want to go back to San Francisco trailing in the series.
Both offenses will be up to the challenge of scoring some more runs, mostly because both starting pitchers will have a rough game.
Lincecum and Wainwright will both be knocked out of the game early and it will be up to both team’s bullpens to bail them out.
The game-changer though will be Beltran. Even if he does play, he won’t be at 100 percent, which leaves a huge hole in the Cardinals lineup.
Final score: 7-5 Giants
Give Alex Bacon a follow on Twitter @abacon55 for tweets on the MLB playoffs.
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