Tag:Jaime Garcia
Posted on: October 17, 2011 12:39 am
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Eye on Photos: Cardinals take out Brewers in NLCS



By Matt Snyder


The St. Louis Cardinals have continued their Cinderella story, beating the Milwaukee Brewers in the NLCS, four games to two. Let's take a look at the series that was, in pictures.

Click on any photo below to enlarge.

Prince Fielder came through with a huge home run in Game 1, a Milwaukee victory. (Getty Images)
Despite the loss, Game 1 was when David Freese set the tone for a huge series, here with a three-run homer. (Getty Images)
After a lackluster Game 1, Albert Pujols broke through with a monster Game 2, pictured here with a two-run shot in the first inning. (Getty Images)
All kinds of awesome here, but my favorite part is that the umpire looks like he's shoving Yadier Molina out of the way. Pujols was safe, and the Cardinals went on to win 12-3. (Getty Images)
In Game 3, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke decided to go with Mark Kotsay in center. It did not go well in the first inning. (Getty Images)
In a matchup of aces, Yovani Gallardo coughed up four runs in the first inning of Game 3. The Brewers would lose 4-3. (Getty Images)
Chris Carpenter, on the other hand, did just enough to get the game to the bullpen with a lead. (Getty Images)
Yadier Molina with what appears to be his answer to the Brewers' "Beast Mode." (Getty Images)
Jerry Hairston's incredible slide helped propel the Brewers to victory in Game 4. (Getty Images)
St. Louis loves this one, right? (Getty Images)
Maybe they're talking about how much money combined they're gonna haul in this offseason. (Getty Images)
The Brewers' needed a huge performance out of starting pitcher Randy Wolf in Game 4 and he provided it, even gathering a double with his bat. (Getty Images)
Matt Holliday had struggled this postseason until this swing resulted in a wind-aided homer in Game 4. He'd start swinging the bat well after that. (Getty Images)
It wasn't necessarily why the Brewers lost the series, but there were far too many pictures like this. (Getty Images)
Octavio Dotel has been a major piece for the Cardinals this postseason. (Getty Images)
The squirrel. Nothing more needs to be said. (Getty Images)
An underrated piece for the Cardinals was Marc Rzepczynski, who twice came on to strikeout Prince Fielder in big spots, like here in Game 5. (Getty Images)
Jaime Garcia got what many thought was an early hook in Game 5, but the Cardinals bullpen would throw 4 1/3 shutout innings. (Getty Images)
Rough NLCS for Zack Greinke. (Getty Images)
Huge out here, as the Brewers had two on and nobody out for Ryan Braun, who grounded into this fielder's choice. It was close, too. (Getty Images)
This guy again? Freese's first-inning, three-run home run gave the Cardinals a big lead early in Game 6. (Getty Images)
Yes, that's Jonathan Lucroy on a home run trot. He cut the lead to 5-4 in the second. (Getty Images)
Things got so weird in Game 6, Lance Berkman made a diving catch. (Getty Images)
The Brewers had a big chance to carve into the Cardinals' lead in the bottom of the fourth, but Corey Hart struck out to end the threat. (Getty Images)
That sound you heard was a collective gasp from the entire city of St. Louis. Pujols did stay in the game, though. (Getty Images)
Rafael Furcal gets a beer shower from teammates after the win. (Getty Images)


Up next for the Cardinals: The Texas Rangers in the World Series. The Cardinals are playing for their 11th World Series title, while the Rangers are playing for their first. St. Louis has homefield advantage despite having a worse regular-season record by virtue of the NL winning the All-Star Game. It's funny, too, that the deciding play in that game was a three-run homer by Milwaukee's Prince Fielder.

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Posted on: October 16, 2011 11:50 pm
Edited on: October 17, 2011 1:24 pm
 

World Series preview: Rangers vs. Cardinals



By Matt Snyder


Talk about your clashes in historical pedigree.

The St. Louis Cardinals franchise began all the way back in 1882 (as the St. Louis Brown Stockings). After having just won the 2011 NL pennant, the Cardinals now have 18 NL titles and 10 World Series championships -- looking to add No. 11 in the next week and a half or so. The history of the franchise is loaded with Hall of Famers and transcendent personalities, and the city is often said to be one of the best baseball towns in the country. Manager Tony La Russa has been playing bullpen matchups since before Al Gore invented the Internet.

The Rangers' franchise, on the other hand, has only been around since 1961 (as the Washington Senators -- they moved to Texas and became the Rangers in 1972). Prior to 1996, the Rangers/Senators had never been to the playoffs. Prior to last season, they'd only won one playoff game in franchise history. The only individual Hall of Fame plaque with a Texas Rangers cap is Nolan Ryan's. Sitting right in the middle of die-hard football country, Arlington hasn't exactly been romanticized as a baseball hot spot. Manager Ron Washington took his first managing job in 2007.

Full playoff coverage
Of course, history has absolutely nothing to do with this series. The players are the ones who will win this series, not the uniforms or any flags in the respective stadiums honoring the past.

The Rangers are now making their second consecutive trip to the World Series and there's no doubt they're a current baseball powerhouse. Anyone who watched Game 6 of the ALCS can attest that the fans are as great as anywhere, too, because Rangers Ballpark was rocking.

These two teams have lots of similarities, too.

Both lost an ace before the season even began. The Rangers lost Cliff Lee to free agency while the Cardinals lost Adam Wainwright to a torn UCL in his throwing elbow -- requiring season-ending Tommy John surgery. Both offenses feature several power hitters while the bullpens got stronger down the stretch on the strength of midseason acquisitions and some roster/role tinkering. And both teams have been scorching hot for the past six or so weeks.

Sure, the Cardinals late surge got lots of attention and rightfully so. It's because they were running down the Braves from a double-digit deficit in the NL wild-card race. But check this out:

Rangers' September record: 19-6
Cardinals' September record: 18-8

Rangers' October record: 7-3
Cardinals' October record: 7-4

So if you're going to argue for the hotter team winning the series, you're picking the Rangers -- not the Cardinals. Since a Sept. 10 loss to the A's, the Rangers are 21-5. To put that in perspective, that's a 162-game pace of 131 wins. To reiterate, the Cardinals are playing exceptional baseball right now and deserve all the credit they've gotten for the huge comeback in the regular season and run in the playoffs, but let's not be fooled into thinking they come in hotter than their Texas-sized opponent.

TEAM INFORMATION

Texas Rangers (host Games 3, 4, 5*)
96-66, AL West winner.
ALDS: Beat Tampa Bay three games to one.
ALCS: Beat Detroit four games to two.
Manager: Ron Washington
Offensive ranks: 3rd in R, 2nd in HR, 1st in AVG, 5th in OBP, 2nd in SLG
Pitching ranks: 13th in ERA, 12th in K, 5th in WHIP

St. Louis Cardinals (host Game 1, 2, 6*, 7*)
90-72, NL wild card winner.
NLDS: Beat Philadelphia three games to two.
NLCS: Beat Milwaukee four games to two.
Manager: Tony La Russa
Offensive ranks: 5th in R, 13th in HR, 5th in AVG, 3rd in OBP, 6th in SLG
Pitching ranks: 12th in ERA, 21st in K, 15th in WHIP

*if necessary
[Note: All rankings were regular season and for the entire MLB]

POSITIONAL BREAKDOWN -- WHO HAS THE EDGE?

Catcher: Mike Napoli vs. Yadier Molina


Big offensive advantage to Napoli here, but Molina can hit, too. Big defensive advantage to Molina here, but we've seen what Napoli can do behind the plate this postseason. This is a tough call for many reasons. We're weighing Napoli's power stroke (30 HR in 369 at-bats this season) against Molina's ability to completely eliminate the opposing running game. Ultimately, it's a toss up between two really good players.

First base: Michael Young vs. Albert Pujols


Young is a very good hitter. A great one at times, including most of the 2011 season. He just became the first player in LCS history to record two extra-base hits in one inning. He's gotten some noise in the AL MVP argument. It's just that he's not Albert Pujols in any aspect of the game.

Second base: Ian Kinsler vs. Ryan Theriot


Theriot's a scrappy singles hitter who makes lots of baserunning mistakes. He's not a defensive liability at second like he was at short, but he's still not much more than just an average player. Even if Skip Schumaker can return at full health, the upgrade is pretty minor. Kinsler had 32 homers and 30 stolen bases in the regular season and is far superior with the glove. 

Shortstop: Elvis Andrus vs. Rafael Furcal


Andrus is a solid defender and base stealer, but not a very good hitter. Furcal has provided St. Louis a bit of a power-speed combo atop the order since his acquisition. It's a really close call here, but Furcal seems to be providing his team more of a spark at this point in time. Things could easily change by the second inning of Game 1, but we're going Furcal by a nose for now.

Third base: Adrian Beltre vs. David Freese


A healthy Freese has been a monumental boost for the Cardinals' offense, especially as Matt Holliday has dealt with some injuries. Freese was a really good hitter in the regular season and absolutely exploded in the NLCS. Beltre can match and exceed his firepower, though. Beltre had 32 regular-season homers and then went yard three times in the clinching ALDS Game 4 at Tampa Bay. He's also a great defender. Before the NLCS, Freese was underrated, but let's not overcorrect based upon six games. He closed the gap, but is still slightly behind Beltre overall.

Left field: David Murphy vs. Matt Holliday


When healthy, Holliday is an elite player. He's starting to look healthy based upon the last few games, too, so this is an easy call.

Center field: Josh Hamilton vs. Jon Jay


Jay isn't a bad player by any stretch, but he's out of his league here. When Hamilton can keep himself on the field, he's one of the most feared sluggers in the league, and will also sell out his body to make a big defensive play (see Game 6, for example).

Right field: Nelson Cruz vs. Lance Berkman


We cannot discount the season that Berkman, the NL Comeback Player of the Year, put together. He was great, and especially valuable early in the season when Holliday was hurt and Pujols was struggling. But Cruz still almost matched his power production despite playing 21 fewer games in the regular season. In the playoffs, Cruz has been the best hitter in baseball, not to mention that he's a much better defender than Berkman. This one would be a toss up, but Cruz's hot hand pushes him over the top. Put it this way, Cardinals fans: What if you could trade Berkman for Cruz straight up for the series? You'd do it. Don't lie.

Designated hitter


The designated hitter for the Rangers is a mix and match thing. Young or Napoli can be used there, which would get Mitch Moreland or Yorvit Torrealba into the lineup. It's also possible Washington goes with Endy Chavez or Craig Gentry in the outfield and uses Murphy at DH. So, essentially, we're judging the bench here. For the Cardinals, the smart money is on Berkman being used as the DH, which then puts Allen Craig in the outfield. So what we're really judging here is which offense benefits more from being able to use a DH and, oddly enough, the NL team here does. Craig is a much better offensive player than Moreland, Torrealba, Chavez or Gentry. So the three games in Texas will actually favor the Cardinals in this one aspect of the game, however small it is.

Starting rotation: C.J. Wilson, Colby Lewis, Matt Harrison, Derek Holland vs. Chris Carpenter, Jaime Garcia, Edwin Jackson, Kyle Lohse


Both rotations have good ability yet have been shaky at times. Holland and Garcia particularly struggled in their respective LCS'. Wilson and Carpenter both pitched like aces at several points throughout the regular season, but the deciding factor here is that Carpenter has shown he can carry his team in a big game. Wilson, meanwhile, is 1-4 with a 5.40 ERA and 1.40 WHIP in seven career postseason starts.

Bullpen: Neftali Feliz et al vs. Jason Motte et al


The fact that both teams won four of six games against their respective LCS opponents with zero quality starts tells you all you need to know about how good the bullpens are right now. The Cardinals' bullpen has significantly improved down the stretch, as Motte has stepped in as the closer -- despite not being "officially" named as such. Marc Rzepczynski has been a solid left-handed addition just as right-hander Octavio Dotel has gotten some really big outs. Especially after the NLCS, you have to say the Cardinals have a very strong bullpen right now. The way things have gone for Texas of late, though, it's even better. Scott Feldman and Alexi Ogando have proven to be an exceptional duo to bridge the gap from the starters to the potentially dominant Mike Adams and Neftali Feliz at the back-end.

Defense


Getting Furcal helped the Cardinals, as will being able to use Craig in right instead of Berkman when the games are played in Texas, but this isn't really a match. The two teams had virtually identical fielding percentages during the regular season, but that doesn't measure range. The advanced metrics that do measure range pretty heavily side with the Rangers here. If you just go by position, only at catcher and first base are the Cardinals clearly better. Everywhere else it's either debatable or definitely the Rangers.

PREDICTION

First of all, keep in mind all categories above aren't created equal. Having a slight edge at shortstop, for example, isn't near as important as having an edge in the bullpen. The position-by-position breakdown is just a snapshot at the different strengths and weaknesses of each team. Adding everything together, including the momentum and swagger heading into the World Series, the Rangers have a better offense, defense and bullpen. And while the Cardinals have been having all their happy flights, the Rangers haven't lost consecutive games since August 23-25. The Cardinals' run has been a great story and nothing would surprise us here, but we'll go with the St. Louis run ending when it runs into a more talented buzzsaw. Rangers in six.

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Posted on: October 15, 2011 1:38 am
Edited on: October 15, 2011 1:41 am
 

Errors didn't help, but neither did Greinke

Zack Greinke

By C. Trent Rosecrans

ST. LOUIS -- Among qualified starters during the regular season, no pitcher struck out more batters per nine innings than Zack Greinke, and just 11 pitchers had a higher percentage of swings and misses on their pitches than Greinke's 10.6 percent.

To say Greinke wasn't that pitcher in Game 5 of the NLCS on Friday is an understatement. He didn't record a strikeout and of the 89 pitches he threw, there were just two swings and misses by Cardinals batters. So instead of his season percentage that was better than Justin Verlander (10.2 percent), his 2.25 swing-and-miss percentage was closer to Elih Villanueva of the Marlins, and nearly a full percent less than the swing-and-miss rate recorded by Scott Kazmir. So as much as his fielders struggled behind him in the Cardinals' 7-1 victory, Greinke can shoulder plenty of blame himself.

NLCS Coverage

"Wasn’t a great game pitched for me," Greinke said afterward. "Made several mistakes that ended up costing us. They pitched a good game. Tough loss. Definitely could have done better and made it a better game. I made a couple tough mistakes."

Both of the swinging strikes came on fastballs, while his best out pitch, his slider went for 11 strikes, but none of them swings and misses. 

No batter swung and missed at a pitch until Greinke's 68th pitch of the night, a 1-1 fastball to Matt Holliday in the fifth inning. Holliday hit his next pitch to shortstop for a hit. Greinke's next swinging strike was on his 88th pitch of the night, a 1-1 fastball to Albert Pujols in the sixth. Pujols blasted Greinke's next pitch into left for an RBI single.

"I don't think his slider was biting as it usually was tonight," Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy said. "He had velocity, but his movement wasn't there and it usually is on his slider. His best pitches are his slider and his fastball, and if his slider's not working, it takes away from his fastball."

Greinke's fastball averaged 93 mph and had a high of 95.4 mph, but the Cardinals weren't missing them. He still threw 18 sliders (20 percent), close to his usual percentage.

"The slider wasn’t very sharp at all today," Greinke said. "I kind of wanted to get it up a little more and get some weak contact with it. I did that pretty good. But whenever I needed to get it down, I had some trouble doing that. The last pitch to Albert (Pujols) was a hanging slider, and if I get it down, it’s probably a strikeout. You could say that several other times, where if I’d have gotten the slider down better, there’d have been better results."

In all, he allowed seven hits in 5 2/3 innings and five runs, although just two were earned. He actually lowered his postseason ERA to a pedestrian 6.48 -- hardly the type of production expected from a former Cy Young-winner who demanded out of Kansas City so he could pitch in playoff games. Now three games into his playoff career, he's not shown himself to be the level of Chris Carpenter, Roy Halladay or Cliff Lee, the top-line pitchers who also have proven themselves under baseball's brightest lights. And make no mistake, there were those who wondered how Greinke would fare under the glare of the postseason. While it's not appeared to be a mental block, his lack of production in the postseason will be an issue and concern until he proves he can pitch on this stage.

He didn't have help on Friday -- Jerry Hairston Jr. missed a grounder by Cardinals starter Jaime Garcia that allowed two runs to score, Corey Hart missed a ball in right field that produced St. Louis' first run, Rickie Weeks missed a tough over-the-shoulder catch in the fourth before commttin an error in the fifth and Yuniesky Betancourt's error in the sixth aided the Cardinals' final run off of Greinke. That's all true, but it's also true that Molina's double and Garcia's grounder in the second were both hit very hard. That's because Greinke wasn't fooling anybody, and like it or not, his reputation in the postseason will be based more on what he's done in his three starts this October than anything he's done in the past.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: October 14, 2011 11:15 pm
Edited on: October 14, 2011 11:29 pm
 

Brewers hand Game 5 to Cardinals

Zack Greinke

By C. Trent Rosecrans

ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals' 7-1 victory in Game 5 has put St. Louis one game from the World Series, as they lead the series 3-2 after Friday's win.

Hero: Jaime Garcia really got the job done with his bat, as three of the Cardinals' first four runs came off the bat of Garcia. Two runs scored in the second on his grounder that went through the legs of Jerry Hairston Jr. and then he knocked in a run in the fourth on a ground out. Oh, and he pitched too... allowing only one run and striking out five (but did give up seven hits) in 4 2/3 innings. 

Goat: Hairston was the toast of Milwaukee for about 23 hours after his brilliant slide in Game 4 and then his diving stop of a liner by Nick Punto in the second inning on Friday that temporarily saved two more runs. But with the next pitch, Garcia hit a grounder that went right between Hairston's legs, allowing two runs to score with two outs. He wasn't alone in the Brewers error-parade, but his was the first one and the most costly.

Turning point: It's hard to overstate how crucial Hairston's error was -- even though it seems like it's getting beat to death here. With the pitcher up, all the Brewers need is a routine play and it's still 1-0 after two. Instead, it's 3-0 and the seeds of doubt have been sown. 

It was over when … Octavio Dotel came in to face Ryan Braun with two on and two outs in the fifth inning and the Cardinals leading 4-1. Braun came into the game just 2 for 9 with seven strikeouts against Dotel. He left the game 2 for 10 with eight strikeouts against Dotel.

Next: The series returns to Milwaukee with the Brewers' season in the hands of Shaun Marcum. Expect a run of Pepto in Wisconsin. Edwin Jackson can send the Cardinals to the World Series with a victory.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: October 14, 2011 9:21 pm
 

Brewers defense comes up short early in Game 5

Corey Hart

By C. Trent Rosecrans

ST. LOUIS -- For the second time in three games, a ball went just off Corey Hart's glove, leading to runs for the Cardinals. Neither the ball hit by David Freese in the first inning of Game 3 on Wednesday, nor the double off the bat of Yadier Molina in the second inning of Game 5 on Friday were ruled an error -- nor should they have been. But both showed the small difference between scoring runs and preventing them.

With two on and one out in the second inning, the Cardinals catcher drove a ball deep to right off of Brewers starter Zack Greinke and Hart jumped near the fence, but the ball ticked off his glove, allowing one run to score and Molina to motor into second with a double. Molina and Freese would both score on an error by Jerry Hairston Jr. later in the inning, give St. Louis an early 3-0 lead.

On Wednesday, Hart had a shot at Freese's liner, but missed that one as well, allowing the fourth run of the first inning to score in an eventual 4-3 Cardinals victory.

The Brewers are not a very good defensive team and that could come back to hurt them in this series. Game 3 turned not only on Hart's play, but also Mark Kotsay's inability to catch Jon Jay's liner that started the first-inning rally.

After Molina's double, Hairston made a nice diving play to temporarily save two runs on Nick Punto's liner, but he then let Jaime Garcia's ground ball go between his legs, scoring two more.

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Posted on: October 14, 2011 3:19 am
Edited on: October 14, 2011 4:31 pm
 

NLCS Game 5: Cardinals' backs against the wall



By C. Trent Rosecrans

Brewers at Cardinals, 8:05 p.m. ET, Busch Stadium, St. Louis. Series tied, 2-2.

ST. LOUIS -- With Thursday's Brewers victory, this much we know for sure, the NLCS will be headed back to Milwaukee. That simple fact makes Game 5 bigger game for the Cardinals, who would certainly like to go to Milwaukee up a game instead of on the verge of elimination.

"We want to be 3-2 going into Miller Park and not having to win two games over there. It's a big game, we've got Jaime (Garcia) on the mound. We're going to come ready to play," St. Louis infielder Nick Punto said. "It's one of those teams that we play pretty good with our backs against the wall and our backs are against the wall again -- we'll see what happens."

Milwaukee, it has been beat into the ground by now, had baseball's best home record. The Cardinals, though, were 4-5 at Miller Park this season, not a winning record, but pretty good against a team that only lost 24 home games all season. And St. Louis also split with the Milwaukee in the series' first two games.

"We've been in this situation. It's the best out of three," Albert Pujols said. "We want to win (Friday) and then we go to Milwaukee. But one thing we can look at is that we're pretty much the on in the team in the National League that played pretty well in Milwaukee. We need to flip the page, hopefully take the lead (Friday) and go to Milwaukee and win."

WHO HAS THE EDGE?

 

This is a tough one -- I usually just go on the pitching matchup, and even that is problematic. In the end, although Garcia has been very good at home this year and Zack Greinke has struggled in the playoffs and on the road, Greinke's the better pitcher. Garcia can be very good, and he's one of the best young pitchers in the game. Greinke, though, can be the best in baseball at times. The 2009 Cy Young Award winner has struggled in the playoffs thus far, but the potential to shut down a team -- even one as explosive as St. Louis -- is there. 

Brewers' Zack Greinke: Greinke wanted out of Kansas City so he could pitch in the playoffs. The Brewers wanted him not only to help them get to the playoffs, but also to have a no-doubt No. 1 starter if they got to the playoffs. But it hasn't worked out that way. The Brewers have won both of his playoff starts, but Greinke's hardly been impressive in his two starts.

In his first playoff start, Greinke allowed eight hits and four runs in five innings, but did strike out seven Diamondbacks in Game 2 of the NLDS. He was back for Game 1 of the NLCS, allowing six earned runs on eight hits in six innings, but getting massive backing from his offense to earn the victory over Garcia.

"In all honesty, it's just another game… kind of," Greinke said Thursday when asked about his playoff experience. "I thought it might be a lot different, but it's really just a normal game, and you just get as ready as you can and do what you can. The first two games, I've given ups one runs, but I've been really happy with how I've pitched. So (Friday), I'm just going to do what I can do, and if I throw good, I'll be happy."

Cardinals' Jaime Garcia: Like Greinke, Garcia's been much better at his own ballpark, going 9-4 with a  2.55 ERA at Busch Stadium and a 4-3 record with a 4.61 ERA. In Game 1, he gave up six runs on six hits in just four innings before giving way to the Cardinals' bullpen. But that was at Miller Park.

"Obviously I like pitching here, but I don't really feel any different on the road," Garcia said. "I just feel like a lot of this throughout the year, a lot of the times where I've pitched on the road, it's just one of those things don't go your way, but I've had some good games on the road and then some not very good at home. So I can't really answer your question, because to me, it's all the same. Obviously, I like pitching at home -- you have the fans, you can sleep in your own bed. But other than that, to me it's the same. I just try to see it as any other game and then prepare yourself for that specific game."

His career home/road splits also show that Garcia's much better at home. He's 16-9 with a 2.37 in 35 appearances at home and 11-7 with a  4.28 ERA in 35 road appearances.

"If you want Jaime to pitch, this is where you want him to take the ball," Pujols said.

LINEUPS

Brewers Cardinals
No. Name Pos No. Name Pos
1 Corey Hart RF 1 Rafael Furcal SS
2 Jerry Hairston Jr. 3B 2 Jon Jay CF
3 Ryan Braun LF 3 Albert Pujols 1B
4 Prince Fielder 1B 4 Lance Berkman RF
5 Rickie Weeks 2B 5 Matt Holliday LF
6 Yuniesky Bentancourt SS 6 David Freese 3B
7 Carlos Gomez CF 7 Yadier Molina C
8 Jonathan Lucroy C 8 Nick Punto 2B
9 Zack Greinke RHP 9 Jaime Garcia LHP

NOTES

  • Since the seven-game LCS format was introduced in 1985, only 14 of the 52 series have been tied at two after four games. Of the previous 13 LCS tied at two, six have gone seven games and the other seven have gone six games.
  • David Freese's eight-game postseason hitting streak is the longest for a Cardinal since Scott Rolen hit in 10 straight games in 2006. Freese was 2 for 4 in Game 4.
  • The Brewers' last road victory in the playoffs was on Oct. 12, 1982, at old Busch Stadium in Game 1 of the 1982 World Series.
  • Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun has reached base safely in the first inning in each of the team's last eight postseason games, becoming the first player to do so in eight straight games. Gary Sheffield reached safely in seven straight in 1997 for the Marlins.
  • Francisco Rodriguez has no allowed an earned run in eight career LCS relief appearances. He allowed two unearned runs in Game 5 of the 2005 ALCS for the Angels against Chicago.
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Posted on: October 10, 2011 2:20 am
Edited on: October 10, 2011 4:47 pm
 

NLCS Game 2: Miller Time is good to Brewers



By C. Trent Rosecrans

MILWAUKEE -- It's been beat into the ground by this time in the playoffs, but it's only because it's held true -- every game at Miller Park is crucial to the Brewers, who held baseball's best home record and struggled on the road this season. So far, the Miller Park faithful has seen four postseason victories and no losses. The Brewers also lost both of their road games in Arizona in the first round, furthering the storyline.

Sunday, the Brewers came back from an early deficit to beat the Cardinals, giving Milwaukee the early lead in the series and keeping the momentum alive at home.

NLCS

"The atmosphere here is something that we really feed off of, I think it's one o fate big reasons we've been so successful here at home," Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun said. "Obviously the fans are very passionate. And they're excited. I think they're enjoying it as much as we are, playing meaningful baseball games on Oct. 10. And they're embracing the opportunity, just like we are, and trying to make the most of it."

For St. Louis, getting a win in Milwaukee would mean a chance at clinching a trip to the World Series at home. For a team that came back from 8 1/2 games in the wild card in the last three-and-half weeks of the season and lost the first game of the NL division series, St. Louis is used to performing under pressure.

"Just look at how we've played over the last six weeks -- we've lost some tough games and bounced back, we did it against Philly, we did it in the last two weeks of the season when we needed wins, we're too good of a ball club," St. Louis first baseman Albert Pujols said. "This is too long of a series  and whoever wins four games is going to the World Series. Just because they won one game -- you can go to the (Brewers) side and ask them -- it's not over."

PITCHING MATCHUPS

Cardinals' Edwin Jackson: The right-hander's last outing came in Game 4 of the NLDS with the Cardinals facing elimination and he rebounded from giving up two first-inning runs, he allowed just three more base runners in his six innings as St. Louis forced a Game 5 with a victory over Roy Oswalt and the Cardinals. 

The start was Jackson's first postseason start of his career, but not his first appearance, having pitched in three games of the 2008 postseason with the Rays. The oft-traded Jackson has gone 5-2 with a 3.58 ERA in 12 starts and 13 games since coming to the Cardinals, and take out one start and his ERA's down to 2.92. But there's the rub -- that one start you'd need to take out was against the Brewers, at Mlller Park. In just his second start for the Cardinals, Jackson surrendered 10 runs (but just eight earned) in seven innings on 14 hits. The Brewers tagged him for four homers -- three by Casey McGehee and one from Corey Hart to lead off the first inning. 

On Sunday, Jackson was asked about that start -- "What start? It's that simple. I mean, I'm a competitor. I mean, I can take my beatings and I can handle that. It's not my first one and it probably won't be my last."

Jackson followed that start with another against the Brewers -- losing but in better fashion, allowing three runs (two earned) on six hits in six innings on Aug. 9. In his next start in Milwaukee he allowed just one run in seven innings, earning the win.

Brewers' Shaun Marcum: The Brewer right-hander wasn't able to get through the fifth inning in his one start in the NLDS, going up seven runs in just 4 2/3 innings in Game 3. During the season, he flashed moments of brilliance, but also struggled -- evening out to a 13-7 record with a 3.54 ERA.

Marcum's Game 3 start will best be remembered for his flip of his glove after giving up a grand slam to Arizona's Paul Goldschmidt.

"I didn't really see the replay, and I didn't realize I did it until afterwards," Marcum said. "I was like, what the heck did I just do? It reminded me of Ted Lilly a couple of years ago in Arizona, but he slammed his glove down on the ground. It's just a reaction thing. Definitely I didn't realize I did it until afterwards."

Like just about every other pitcher in this series, he's seen plenty of his NLCS opponents -- facing the Cardinals three times in August, going 0-1 with a 4.26 ERA in those three starts and 1-1 with a 4.15 ERA in four total starts against St. Louis.

"They know what I'm going to do; I know what approach they're going to take for me," Marcum said. "For me it's a matter of going out and locating, keeping the ball down. I do know what they're going to try to do. They know what they're going to try to do against me. We're going to go back and forth."

Starting pitching advantage for Game 2:

Both starters are so unpredictable that it's hard to give anyone an edge -- it depends on the night.

LINEUPS

Cardinals Brewers
No. Name Pos No. Name Pos
1 Rafael Furcal SS 1 Corey Hart RF
2 Jon Jay CF 2 Nyjer Morgan CF
3 Albert Pujols 1B 3 Ryan Braun LF
4 Matt Holliday LF 4 Prince Fielder 1B
5 Lance Berkman RF 5 Rickie Weeks 2B
6 Yadier Molina C 6 Jerry Hairston Jr. 3B
7 David Freese 3B 7 Yuniesky Betancourt SS
8 Nick Punto 2B 8 Jonathan Lucroy C
9 Edwin Jackson RHP 9 Shaun Marcum RHP

NOTES

  • With his 62nd postseason game in a Cardinals' uniform, Albert Pujols passed Jim Edmonds for most in franchise history. With his single in the first inning, Pujols has now hit safely in 21 of the 26 LCS games in his career, hitting .354 (34 for 96) in the LCS with eight homers and 18 RBI.
  • Based on history, the Brewers' victory in Game 1 puts them in the driver's seat -- in the last 19 NLCS, winner of Game 1 has gone on to win the series 16 times (84.2 percent).
  • Rafael Furcal hsas a hit in each of the nine games he's played at Miller Park this season, with eight of those coming as a Cardinal. He's hitting .323 (10 for 31) here this season and .295 (26 for 88) in his career.
  • Despite the Brewers' prodigious power, Sunday was just the second time in team history Milwaukee hit multiple homers in one playoff game. The only other time came exactly 30 years before, when Pal Molitor and Ted Simmons hit home runs against the Yankees in Game 3 of the ALDS on Oct. 9, 1981. It was the 37th time Braun and Fielder homered in the same game.
  • Marcum may not have the most success with the Cardinals this season, but he has had success against Pujols and Lance Berkman. Berkman is just 1 for 15 in his career against Marcum and Pujols is 1 for 9.
  • Likewise, Jackson's been good against Braun and Fielder. Braun is 2 for 12 against Jackson and Fielder is 2 for 13. McGehee's three homers are his only three hits against Jackson in his career.
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Posted on: October 9, 2011 10:30 pm
Edited on: October 9, 2011 10:37 pm
 

Overheard: NLCS Game 1

Yuniesky Betancourt

By C. Trent Rosecrans

MILWAUKEE -- Prince Fielder's fifth-inning homer had people at Miller Park buzzing -- both during the game and after. Fielder's homer was measured at 119.2 mph off his bat, according to ESPN's Home Run Tracker, making it the fastest ball off a bat this season.

But that's not all they were talking about at the stadium following Milwaukee's 9-6 victory in Game 1, here's more:

Ryan Braun on Fielder's homer: "That was one of the hardest hit balls I've ever seen. I'm always worried when I'm on first base and Princeis up that he's going to top spin one at me. I had a good view of it. It got out in a hurry."

Yuniesky Betancourt (above) on the criticism he get: "I don't really understand English very well, so that being said, I don't really pay attention to what the critics say. Since I don't understand, I don't get mad. I just try and do my job."

• Albert Pujols on fouling off a pitch in the seventh before grounding into a double play: "I had a good pitch, but I just missed it -- seven out of 10 times, I put it in the seats. That's baseball, next time I get that opportunity, hopefully I'll come through."

• Zack Greinke on the Brewers' 17-0 record when he starts at Miller Park: "I don't know. We've got a good record. I answer this question after every start -- and before every start. We feel like we're going to win."

• Jonathan Lucroy on Greinke: "I think the key with Zack, as it was with his last start, he kept us close. Not letting the game get out of hand. ... He's very strong. He's very stoic. He's not Cy Young out there [right now]. He's going to execute, and he's going to make mistakes like all pitchers do."

Tony La Russa on leaving Garcia in to face Braun and Fielder: "The guy is cruising -- there's a ground ball, he makes one mistake. How many hits does he have at that point? I mean, maybe (he should have pulled Garcia), because that's strategy. But no, he was not ready (to be taken out). Only when I saw him throw a ball down the middle to Braun, I said that's enough.  And he tried to make a pitch to Fielder and it's a two-run homer. No, I wouldn't have made move to (face) Braun. I He was throwing the ball better than that. He made one mistake. It's a tough league, but it's not that tough."

• Braun on the Cardinals keeping Garcia in: "I thought Garcia was really cruising and throwing the ball well. I think the first inning he obviously didn't have great command. After that, I thought he was really throwing well. We had a couple of great at-bats by Corey (Hart) and Jerry (Hairston), and Prince and I each swung at the first pitch. I don't think he had an opportunity to really come in the game."

Ron Roenicke on the Miller Park crowd: "I don't even know if I heard the ball come off Prince's bat. I knew it was a good swing and came off nice, but when you can't hear the ball the sound of it, because of all the people yelling -- I wasn't sure what was going to happen there until I saw the ball's flight."

Fielder on his homer: "It felt good. I thought it might be off the wall or a double in the gap, and it kind of kept going, so that was good."

More NLCS coverage 

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