ST. LOUIS -- Numbers game? Here's one: Eight starting pitchers into this NL Championship Series, one finally produced a quality start. It came in Game 4 from the most unlikeliest of places: Soft-throwing veteran Randy Wolf.
And it could not have come at a more opportune time for manager Ron Roenicke's crew.
Brewers 4, Cardinals 2, and this series is dead even.
Which means one very important thing to both clubs:
Following Game 5 Friday night, this series is guaranteed to return to Milwaukee, where the Brewers practically have run the table this season.
That does not necessarily mean they'll do it again. But it does mean that if St. Louis has ideas of advancing to its first World Series since 2006, the Cardinals are going to need more out of their starting pitchers.
I know, that sounds like heresy when Tony La Russa has eight relievers on his playoff roster and, just a night before, folks couldn't heap enough praise on his hard-throwing pen. But asking them to be perfect every night is a tall order.
When Ryan Braun greeted reliever Mitchell Boggs with an RBI single in the fifth inning to snap a 2-2 tie and lift the Brewers into a lead they would not relinquish, you bet it was attention-grabbing: To that point, Cardinals relievers had retired 18 consecutive Brewers batters over the past two games.
But they've been pitching a lot of innings in a series marked by (marred by?) the brevity of innings from starters. Only Milwaukee's Zack Greinke and Wolf have lasted six or more innings. And only Wolf has surrendered three or fewer runs while doing so.
You would have predicted Chris Carpenter? Or Yovani Gallardo?
Wolf, tossing a riveting array of pitches from a slow curve (67, 68 mph) to a pedestrian fastball (90), kept St. Louis off-balance all evening. He left having allowed just two runs and six hits in seven innings. He whiffed six and walked just one.
Not that the Brewers were desperate for a performance like that after Gallardo's Game 3 clunker, but Bernie Brewer was seen pulling his winter sweaters out of storage up in Miller Park after that.
Now, it's a whole new series.
First team to get some decent starting pitching wins.