NLCS GAME 2: Bashed By The Bay
The Cardinals looked to Chris Carpenter to snatch a second win from the San Francisco Giants in their home ballpark and take a series lead home to St. Louis. Unfortunately, a clearly uncomfortable Carpenter fumbled through four difficult innings before surrendering to a largely-ineffective bullpen. Bad umpiring calls, terrible at-bats, and some shoddy defense sealed the Cardinals’ fate, as they dropped the second game of the NLCS 7-1 to the feisty Giants.
VULNERABLE: Hopefully Carpenter is okay, because he looked very un-Carp-like tonight. With his velocity down sharply (averaging high-eighties tonight) and featuring a break-free curve ball, Carpenter was visibly agitated and laboring through an abbreviated four inning start. Carp surrendered five runs, but it could’ve been much worse; the Giants were battering him from the moment Angel Pagan started the first inning with a monstrous home run. We really needed vintage Carpenter to give us a quality start. Instead, we were forced to lean again on a bullpen that has really been ridden hard already. A day off never seemed so necessary.
THE SLIDE: With Matt Holliday on first in the first inning, Allen Craig bounced a ball towards shortstop (one of 1,287 ground balls hit tonight). Shortstop Brandon Crawford flipped the ball to Marco Scutaro for the double play just as Holliday was bearing down on him. Holliday went in for a slide ( a bit late, I’ll admit) over the bag, ramming into Scutaro and hurting his right leg while breaking up the double play. Was it a dirty slide? I’ve seen much worse this year (remember Yadier Molina‘s brutal hit?), but it looked like Holliday was trying to take Scutaro down. And all that did was fire up the Giants even more.
TIP OF THE CAP: Ryan Vogelsong pitched a hell of a game, constantly jamming Cardinal hitters. Sometimes the opposing pitcher beats you.
FUNKY: Here are some averages in the postseason – Jon Jay (.152), Yadier Molina (.138), Matt Holliday (.250), Allen Craig (.276). Teeny tiny Pete Kozma is batting just .185, but his 6 RBI’s are tied with Daniel Descalso and Carlos Beltran for the most on the team. We don’t stand a chance unless these key players in the middle of this lineup don’t start producing some offense.
FIRST PITCH SWINGING: Molina in particular looks bad at the plate. I’m no batting coach (obviously), but it seems to be a bad idea to go up there hacking at the first pitch despite it being high and inside when you’re in a slump. And Molina is in a slump. If that’s the plan for the rest of the postseason, then I suggest that Molina start using a bat that is less than five feet long. He’s getting tied up on every pitch and grounding out, or he’s reaching. MAKE THE PITCHER THROW YOU A STRIKE.
HOLLIDAY STRIKES AGAIN: Here is a bit of baseball trivia you won’t find on any stat sheet – Matt Holliday is the worst left fielder in the history of postseason baseball. During the season, Holliday slides across the grass to make amazing, athletic catches; I know, because I’ve seen them. But once he reaches the postseason, he turns into some sort of destructive gremlin intent on ruining routine plays. Tonight, a single magically became a bases-clearing three-run double when Holliday let the ball bounce off of his glove and to the wall – OOOPSIE!! Then, a casual fly ball became a confusing, dropped-in single when Holliday, chugging in from left field, decided to “take charge” and call off David Freese. Freese, startled, turned away from the ball just as it dropped inside the foul line. TEE HEE HEE! That Matt is such a TRICKSTER! Watching Holliday field baseballs in the postseason is like watching a drug-free Michael J. Fox pour tea into fine china at a cocktail party. HEY MATHENY – PUT Adron Chambers OUT THERE! HOLLIDAY ISN’T HITTING ANYWAY!
THE FUTURE MUST WAIT: Shelby Miller made his postseason debut with two innings of stark contrasts. His first inning was nasty, as Miller struck out two and looked positively invincible. But the following inning, marred by a bad call at first base (see below) and the infamous Holliday dropped ball, led to two runs and Miller’s ouster. No doubt that the kid will have a bright, ring-filled future with the Cardinals. Tonight, though, was a tough beginning.
INSTANT REPLAY: There are times when I truly wish we could institute instant replays and automated strike zones. We have the technology – let’s get it right! Anyway, yet another blown umpiring call screwed up Miller’s debut. Brandon Crawford lined out to Jon Jay in center, and Jay made an amazing catch just above the grass. In an instant Jay was back on his feet, firing to first to double up something named Gregor Blanco. Although Craig did apply the tag on Blanco’s back (and Blanco ran out of the baseline, too), the dumbshit umpires called Blanco safe. This led to an unraveling in the inning, allowing two more runs to score. Just an ugly inning.
PLEASE STOP: I’d like to not see two things anymore during this NLCS. (1) No more backstop ass cam shots. I’m not tuning in to watch the home plate umpire’s ass wiggle around, okay? (2) No more shots of attention-whore Brian Wilson acting retarded in the dugout. And no more discussions about his stupid fucking beard. And I definitely don’t want to hear anything or see anything involving his painted fingernails. Basically, stop showing Brian Wilson. He’s not playing this year, he has nothing to do with the Giants’ success, so stop featuring him.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Jay for that catch.
CONCLUSION: We managed a split from a tough Giants team in their ballpark, so I’m not unhappy. Still, tonight’s sloppy, distracted, inconsistent play continues to concern me. Hopefully some home cooking, a day off, and a start by our staff ace on Wednesday will help heal some wounds opened tonight.