Tag:NLCS
Posted on: October 13, 2011 2:07 am
Edited on: October 13, 2011 2:10 am
 

Overheard: NLCS Game 3

Albert Pujols

By C. Trent Rosecrans

ST. LOUIS -- Brewers manager Ron Roenicke has repeatedly said he doesn't like to intentionally walk batters -- but he ordered three free passes in Wednesday's 4-3 Game 3 loss to the Cardinals, two to Albert Pujols. All three worked.

"I think when it really makes sense, we'll do it. I don't want to just put him on to put him on. You saw we put him on with a guy on third base. Next thing you know, it's second and third instead of first and third. They get a base hit there, they are scoring two runs instead of just one," Roenicke said. "We are going to pick our spots where we think we need to do it. If it comes up, you know, where it makes sense, then we'll try to put him on. But you know, he's scary when he's hitting everything, and we make good pitches and he's still hitting them. He's done a lot of damage to us."

Pujols had hits in both at-bats in which the Brewers threw to him.

Cardinals right fielder Lance Berkman was asked if he would pitch to Pujols right now: "Maybe. It would just depend on match ups. I don't think anybody thinks as highly as I do in terms of where he ranks in the history of the game, I think he's probably the greatest hitter ever -- doing it in this ballpark and in this era. It's a worldwide game, you have players from all over everywhere," he said. "That being said, I'm having a hard time walking anybody to get to Matt Holliday. This guy's won a batting title, he's been an LCS MVP. So, you might get him a couple of times, but you better be careful, because if you keep doing it, he's going to make you pay."

Holliday was 0 for 3, so he didn't. He has three hits in the series, but all three have been singles. 

Other things overheard after Game 3:

• Cardinals starter Chris Carpenter on Albert Pujols: "I was very fortunate to watch this guy play of rate last nine years. And when you are that type of player at that level, the expectations from you, me, I'm sure his family, his kids' friends, I mean, anybody that's out there, the expectation levee for what he's supposed to do is unbelievable. That being said, he continues to amaze me every single year. Every year, you can't believe the things that he does, the games that he has, the pressures that he deal with, distractions that he deals with.

"Coming int this season, free agent, how much money he is going to get, best player in baseball, is he going be here? Is he not going to be here? And he comes in, just like the same old Albert, and works hard in spring training, starts off a little slow, everybody is questioning whether or not it's because of his contract situation. No, he continues to grind, he continues to play and continues to do the things that amazes every single one of us every single day. So what he's doing now, does that -- it's him. That's who he is. He's an exceptional player, exceptional hitter. He's got the mind of stone. Nothing bothers him no matter what the situation he's in -- and that's what makes him great."

• Brewers infielder Craig Counsell on the Cardinals bullpen: "They've struggled with their bullpen, but they've got guys in the roles they want them in now. They've turned the corner."

• Mark Kotsay on Chris Carpenter: "He didn't have a feel for his curveball. He left some pitches on the plate that we took advantage of. But he made his pitches when he had to, got out of a couple of jams ... it was interesting that Tony took him out there with the pitcher's spot coming up in the fifth, but Tony (La Russa) obviously knows Carp, he knows his bullpen and he did a great job."

• Cardinals third baseman, and Missouri native, David Freese on Stan Musial's pre game appearance: "It's unreal. Every time Stan Musial comes around the clubhouse, we take time to go say hi to him. And when he gets on the field, whether it's tonight or opening day, all of the guys that are in the Hall come out and join him. It's just special to be a part of."

• Carpenter on Octavio Dotel and Arhtur Rhodes: "I think Doti and Arthur have brought a lot of confidence to some of these younger guys to not care; to go out, not be concerned about what's going to happen. Let's go out and give it our best and see what happens. If it works, it works; if it doesn't, it doesn't, and we'll go get 'em the next day."

• Tony La Russa on Yovani Gallardo: "He's got all of the pitches. We got him before he got sharp, but he's the real deal and he showed it. We had a couple of great chances to add, which normally come back to haunt you, but our pitching staff prevented that. But let me tell you, he's a handful, and he's every bit as good as a No. 1 starter is supposed to be."

• Gallardo on his start: "I think I was off the whole game, to be honest with you, even after the first. The four innings after that, I was struggling putting the ball where I wanted to."

He was then asked if it was any pitch in particular: "A little bit with every pitch. I'd hit my spot, and then the next one would be up in the zone, or not even close."

Corey Hart on the Freese double in the first inning: "It just kind of carried off, but I still had to go after it. I knew I was close to the track. It was like his home run [in Game 2] the other day, it just kept going. He's a strong kid."

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 13, 2011 1:25 am
Edited on: October 13, 2011 2:15 am
 

Cardinals bullpen retires 12 Brewers in a row

Jason Motte

By C. Trent Rosecrans

ST. LOUIS -- Only the Nationals had more blown saves than the Cardinals this season, as 26 times the Cardinals had a save situation and then lost a lead. But Wednesday, Chris Carpenter left the game after just five innings in Game 3 of the NLCS and said he wasn't worried about the outcome.

"Typically, as a starting pitcher, you're concerned about that -- you don't want to leave 12 outs for your bullpen," Carpenter said. "I was OK with it. I worked as hard as I could. I had confidence in my guys down there. I had confidence in what they were going to do. And they did it again."

NLCS Coverage

Not only did the Cardinals relievers -- four in all -- get the 12 outs needed, they only needed to face 12 batters to do it. No Brewer reached base after Carpenter intentionally walked Prince Fielder with two outs in the fifth. Fernando Salas got three fly balls to get through the sixth, then Lance Lynn had three fly outs in the sixth and stayed in the seventh to get Ryan Braun to ground out for the first out before lefty Marc Rzepczynski came in to face Prince Fielder. Rzepczynski got Fielder to strike out on four pitches before giving way to Jason Motte -- the team's not-closer -- to strike out Rickie Weeks and then stay in for the ninth and get two strikeouts and a ground out, ending the game.

"Get 12 outs against that offense -- it's not going to work very often that you can put four zeroes against their offense," manager Tony La Russa said. "But each guy came in and really stepped up. I thought they were really aggressive, they threw good strikes and didn't fall behind."

There's been an on-going joke that La Russa still refuses to call Motte his closer -- but since recording his first save on Aug. 28, he's had one blown save a 2.91 ERA. In the playoffs, he's yet to surrender a run, recorded three saves and appeared in five games, all while allowing just one hit.

"Now we've got a guy that's throwing 100 mph, has a nasty slider, it's a presence out there, a force, and you just tip your hat to him because he's turned himself into a closer pretty quick," Berkman said, before he was reminded Motte's not been designated the "closer" by La Russa. "Well, he ends the games for us, whatever you want to call it."

There's talk that La Russa would like to get a big-name, veteran closer during the offseason, so if Motte's not the closer, he doesn't have to demote him. For this season, though, the Cardinals turned around their bullpen late in the season when they traded for right-hander Octavio Dotel, left-hander Marc Rzepczynski and starter Edwin Jackson. Jackson allowed the team to move Kyle McClellan back to the bullpen to fortify the back end. 

Salas, Lynn, Dotel and Mitchell Boggs all recorded saves in the second half of the season, but Motte's seem to hold it down lately.

There's also the fact that the guy who more or less invented the modern bullpen usage is pulling the strings -- and for this series he has eight relievers to chose between.

"Tony is the most prepared person I've ever been around. He lives and dies by numbers, by match ups, by lineups," Carpenter said. "I mean, everyone questions at times why he throws different lineups up there. It's because there's reasons behind that. He's put his work into knowing why he's doing that.

"Why does he push the right buttons at the right times? Because he puts in work, he puts his time into knowing when to push the right buttons. There's a reason why he's won so many games he's won. There's a reason why his teams continue to win. There's a reason why he's a Hall of Fame manager and that's because he puts his work in, he's prepared more than any person I"ve ever see, and when he does push those buttons, he has no fear whatsoever, whether it's wrong or right, and he will answer to it if it's wrong and he will answer to it if it's right. And he's not scared about it, and that's what makes him great."

He also has little reason to be scared of his bullpen anymore. Now that fear should be in the opponent.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 12, 2011 11:20 pm
Edited on: October 12, 2011 11:48 pm
 

Brewers misplays leads Cardinals to NLCS lead

Mark Kotsay

By C. Trent Rosecrans

ST. LOUIS -- Milwaukee continued its postseason road woes, dropping Game 3 to St. Louis, 4-3, as the Brewers take a 2-1 lead in the NLCS.

Hero:  The Cardinals third baseman went 3 for 4 with two doubles and the RBI that turned out to be the game-winner. Freese is hitting .500 in the series and .367 in the postseason, helping bring some pop to the back of the lineup. He leads all Cardinals with 11 RBI in the postseason and three home runs. 

Goat: Ron Roenicke said "something always good seems to happen when he's in there" when asked about starting Mark Kotsay. Something good did happen -- he homered to lead off the third. The problem was two bad things happened in the first because he was in the game. Kotsay was doubled off of second base on Prince Fielder's liner to center. And, in the bottom of the inning, he was unable to get a Jon Jay sinking liner and allowed it to get past him for a double, starting the Cardinals' big inning.

Turning point: The Cardinals batted around in the first, scoring four runs. But the bleeding could have stopped after three had Corey Hart been able to corral a liner by Freese. It appeared to go right off the tip of Hart's glove. Matt Holliday scored the Cardinals' fourth run in the inning.

It was over when …: When Cardinals closer Marc Rzepcynski got the one batter he came in to face -- Prince Fielder -- to strike out for the second out of the eighth. Lance Lynn stayed in to start the inning after pitching the seventh inning, getting Ryan Braun to ground out to second. Rzepcynski came in and struck out Fielder on four pitches. Jason Motte then replace Rzepcynski to strike out Rickie Weeks.

Next: The Brewers' Randy Wolf and Cardinals' Kyle Lohse face off in Game 4 on Thursday at 8:05 p.m. ET.

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

Posted on: October 12, 2011 9:58 pm
Edited on: October 12, 2011 10:23 pm
 

Pitchers struggle early in NLCS Game 3

Yovani Gallardo

By C. Trent Rosecrans

ST. LOUIS -- That pitchers duel we expected in Game 3 of the NLCS? Well, that's not quite what we've got so far.

The Cardinals batted around in the first inning, scoring tour runs, while Chris Carpenter needed two double plays in the first three innings to avoid giveng up any more than three runs he allowed in the first third of the game. 

Both pitchers struggled with their control, as Gallardo needed 82 pitches to get through three innings, Carpenter 67. Carpenter walked just one in the first four innings and hit another batter. Both were done after five innings. Carpenter gave up three runs on six hits, striking out three and walking one. Gallardo gave up four runs on eight hits, walking five and striking out two. He's the first pitcher to walk at least five and throw three wild pitches since St. Louis' Rick Ankiel in 2000. In fairness, though, two of Gallardo's walks were intentional.

"Carp's not sharp, Gallardo's been sharper," Tony La Russa said during the TBS in-game interview.

Carpenter walked the second batter he faced and hit the third -- but was bailed out when surprise starter Mark Kotsay wondered too far off second base on Prince Fielder's liner to center and was doubled up to end the inning. 

Gallardo got no such help in the bottom of the first -- with Mark Kotsay unable to make a diving catch on Jon Jay's sinking line drive to score the first run and then Albert Pujols doubled in another. Another run scored on a Yadier Molina double play and then David Freese doubled to right on a ball Corey Hart just missed.

The Brewers were able to get to Carpenter in the second on three straight singles that scored one and then a sacrifice fly by Gallardo. Kotsay then homered to lead off the third.

Both teams have very good bullpens, and it looks like they'll need them.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 12, 2011 7:20 pm
 

NLCS hopes to dodge the rain

Octavio Dotel

By C. Trent Rosecrans

ST. LOUIS -- Brewers starter Randy Wolf isn't starting tonight and he say he wasn't worried about getting Game 3 of the NLCS in ahead of rain here, but he did worry enough to check out the forecast. 

"According to my AccuWeather I have on my iPhone, we are not supposed to get any rain, so I think we are going to be OK," Wolf said. "It's usually pretty right, too."

The Weather Channel app on my iPhone said there was supposed to be rain all afternoon and possible through the night, but I haven't felt a drop yet, so maybe I should change apps -- even though the skies have been gray all day and it's looked like it could rain at any minute.

"Cautiously optimistic is kind of the way I would explain it," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said before the game. "They think -- the latest check was 3 p.m. They are going to check again at 5 p.m. They are optimistic that we can play. But they are also, by the way, they were very clear, the Commissioner does not want a lot of delays, interruptions and (the like.)"

Ron Roenicke said he'd talked to Joe Garagiola Jr. of the commissioner's office and they don't want anything to mess with the starters -- especially with the matchup of the team's two best pitchers.

"I think probably if we get to about the 6:30 mark is really an important time when -- if we are going to start this thing on time and what we are going to do. Because you get farther than that, and we run into a situation where we ran into this year, where both starters were warmed up and walking off the field and we had an hour-and-a-half delay," Roenicke said. "Something I'm sure the Yankee-Detroit game had something to do with that and what happened. So those are tough calls, because there's some times when -- right now it looks like it's drizzle, but something can happen later on where it builds up more."

With rain being the only thing to mar this postseason so far, it's obvious that baseball wouldn't want another game changed by the weather. Both the Detroit-New York ALDS and the ALCS have had delays and rainouts. The National League has been lucky so far -- helped by the fact both Milwaukee and Arizona have retractable domes. But of course, today's the first game the Brewers have had without a dome in the postseason, so there's rain in order.

Maybe it's just following Wolf.

"You know, my first years in Philadelphia, I was nicknamed the Rain Man, because it seemed like every time I pitched, it rained," Wolf said. "But I learned, you just get ready for the game and you don't worry about what the weather is, because that's another external thing you can't control. But I think (Yovani Gallardo), today, he's going to be ready to pitch; he always is. I don't think that will be much of a concern."

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 12, 2011 6:58 pm
 

Kotsay starting in CF for Brewers in Game 3

Nyjer Morgan

Mark KotsayBy C. Trent Rosecrans

ST. LOUIS -- Those hoping for a fight in the NLCS had the chances lowered a little bit when Brewers manager Ron Roenicke put out his lineup for Game 3 of the series with Mark Kotsay in center field and batting second instead of Nyjer Morgan.

Morgan, of course, got into a shouting match on the field last month with Cardinals' Game 3 starter, bringing the bad blood between the two teams to a boiling point. On Tuesday, Roenicke hinted that he'd be leaning toward a different center fielder for Game 3, but it was assumed it would be Carlos Gomez, not Kotsay getting the call. The stated reason was for defensive purposes.

"I always feel good when Kotsay is in the lineup -- especially when we start him, he seems to have a big day, something always good seems to happen when he's in there -- numbers matched up good," Roenicke said. "I think, too, if Nyjer had beens winging the bat well, I wouldn't have even thought about this, but I think it's the right thing to do here."

Kotay, a left-handed hitter, is 4 for 11 lifetime against Carpenter with a double and a home run. He's 0 for 5 with a walk so far this postseason,  Morgan is 0 for 4 in the NLCS and 3 for 20 in the playoffs.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 12, 2011 6:31 pm
Edited on: October 12, 2011 8:11 pm
 

Brewers add patch to honor former groundskeeper

By C. Trent Rosecrans

ST. LOUIS -- You'll notice a new addition to the Brewers uniforms for the rest of the playoffs starting Wednesday, a patch with the initials GV to recognize the passing of Gary VandenBerg, the team's longtime groundskeeper.

VandenBerg, 59, had a long-term battle with cancer and died on Monday. He started with the Brewers in 1981.

"I think it's great we're (adding patches), he's a part of the Brewer family and has been for a while, and it's very sad," Brewers pitcher Randy Wolf said. "I talked to him quite a bit -- I'm always one to talk to the grounds crew about things I like or don't like about the mound, and I want to be involved. The one thing you learn throughout the years is that the grounds crew wants to get things right. … He was always great and was always very receptive about things. It's really sad, be we saw what happened over the course of a year you can have your life squeezed out of you. It's really sad to watch his deterioration."

The Cardinals will also honor VandenBerg with a moment of silence before Game 3.

"Gary was one of the most loved individuals in this organization, and this is a tremendous loss for everyone connected to the Milwaukee Brewers," Brewers owner Mark Attanasio said in a statement. "Gary was one of the most dedicated and positive persons that we will ever know. We were fortunate to have Gary as a member of the Brewers family, and we all feel a tremendous sense of sadness today. Our prayers are with the VandenBerg family and all of those who loved him."

On Tuesday, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa offered his condolences at the news conference.

"I really would like to express my sympathies on the passing of Gary," La Russa said. "A lot of us have known him for a long time. That's a real blow to the Milwaukee Brewers. We wish [his] family the best. He was a really good guy." 

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 11, 2011 7:17 pm
Edited on: October 13, 2011 1:28 am
 

NLCS Game 3: Cardinals riding high



By C. Trent Rosecrans

ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals' Game 2 victory wrestled homefield advantage from the Brewers as the National League Championship Series heads to St. Louis with Milwaukee needing at least one victory at Busch Stadium to ensure a return to the friendly confines of Miller Park.

Milwaukee struggled on the road this season, but still managed to go 4-5 at Busch Stadium as the two teams split their 18-game season series.

NLCS

"Everybody talks about our home record, but we didn't go undefeated at home by any stretch," Brewers third baseman Jerry Hairston Jr. said following Monday's loss.." It's a loss, but we've just got to go on the road and bounce back."

The Cardinals have won 15 consecutive get-away day games, tabbing their travels "happy flights." However, those "happy flights" leave a little bit of a hangover. In the games after their last 14 "happy flights," the Cardinals have gone 4-10.

Still, the Cardinals left Milwaukee happy, and with the series taking a much different complexion than it had after Milwaukee's Game 1 victory. Now, Milwaukee has to go on the road and depend on a starter that has struggled against the Cardinals and two more that have not been very good in the playoffs.

"(Winning Game 2) was big to us. We're 1-1, that was big to win, just because they've done well (in MIlwaukee)," Cardinals outfielder Jon Jay said following Monday night's victory. "But it was big for us to fight back and get a win after (Sunday's) game."

A win behind Chris Carpenter would put the Brewers on the ropes and could set the stage for the Cardinals' next happy flight to be after Game 2 of the World Series.

PITCHER MATCHUP

Gallardo vs. Cardinals: Yovani Gallardo has certainly been the Brewers' best -- and only consistent -- starter in the playoffs, going 1-0 with a 1.29 ERA in his two starts against the Diamondbacks in the NLDS. The rest of the team's starters are 1-3 with a 11.54 ERA in the playoffs.

However, Gallardo was 1-3 with a 5.70 ERA in four starts against the Cardinals this season and is 1-7 with a 5.66 ERA in 11 career starts against St. Louis. Among his four starts against the Cardinals this season were his best and worst performances of the season. On May 7, he allowed just one hit in eight scoreless innings, but on Sept. 1 at Miller Park, the Cardinals tagged him for eight earned in 4 2/3 innings.

Carpenter vs. Brewers: The Cardinals' right-hander is coming off a masterful victory over close friend Roy Halladay in Game 5 of the NLDS. While Carpenter struggled in Game 2 start on short rest, but Carpenter is fully rested going into Tuesday's start.

Carpenter was 2-2 against the Brewers this season with a 3.86 ERA -- but he was 2-0 in two starts against the Brewers at Busch Stadium, including a four-hit shutout on Sept. 7.

Ryan Braun's struggled a bit against Carpenter, going 5 for 22 (.227) with a home run and six strikeouts. Prince Fielder is 8 for 26 (.308) with two home runs, five walks and eight strikeouts against Carpenter.

Pitching matchup advantage:

 

If both are on in Game 3, it should be the opposite of the slugfests we saw in Miwaukee. Even as Gallardo has developed into a frontline starter, Carpenter's history of success in big games (and on full rest) is too much to overlook.

LINEUPS

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

NOTES

  • In 23 of the last 42 NLCS -- including this one -- the loser of Game 1 has come back to win Game 2.
  • St. Louis' 17 hits on Monday night tied for the second most the team had ever collected in a  postseason game. The Cardinals had 20 hits in Game 4 of the 1946 World Series against the Red Sox and 17 in Game 7 of the 1934 World Series.
  • With his ninth LCS home run, Albert Pujols is now tied with George Brett and Bernie Williams for the second-most in baseball history. Manny Ramirez holds the record with 13 LCS home runs. Pujols now has 14 career postseason home runs, tied with David Justice for eighth most in history.
  • Fielder's homer in Game 2 gave him four postseason home runs -- the most by any Brewer. Ted Simmons and Paul Molitor each hit three.
  • Former Cardinal and Brewer (and Royal and Red Sox and Diamondback and Pirate) Jeff Suppan will throw out the first pitch in Game 3 at Busch Stadium.
  • This series has been rain-free -- so far. Rain is predicted for gametime on Wednesday.
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com