NLDS Grades: Cardinals slip past Pirates in five games

By Dayn Perry | Baseball Writer

After a five-game struggle with the Pirates, the Cardinals are moving on. (USATSI)
After a five-game struggle with the Pirates, the Cardinals are moving on. (USATSI)

MORE: Game 5 quick hits | R.I.P., 2013 Pirates

The NL Central-champion Cardinals have edged the Pirates three games to two in the NLDS, and now St. Louis will advance to play the Dodgers in the NLCS.

Before any of that happens, though, we must see to the business of passing judgment on the recently concluded Buccos-Cards series. So let's make with the report cards ...

AAdam Wainwright. The hero of Game 5 was dominant in each of his two starts. Across those 16 innings, Wainwright whiffed 15 batters, walked only one and gave up one run. The Cardinals won the necessary three games in this series, and Wainwright was largely responsible for two of those victories.
AThe home crowd at PNC Park. As we saw in the wild-card game against the Reds, the Pirates' hometown fans are not wanting for zeal, enthusiasm and raw volume. Standing room only crowds, deafening cheers, a raucous buzz in the air -- The folks at PNC in this series made it clear that baseball is back in the Steel City. Of course, that Busch Stadium crowd isn't so bad, either.
B+Pedro Alvarez. He was really the only Pirate who brought his bat on a consistent basis. For the series, he batted .353 and slugged .941. In Game 5, he drove in the Pirates' only run and kept the line moving in what could've been a big seventh inning for the visitors.
D- Lance Lynn. He fairly well imploded in Game 2, as he allowed five earned on seven hits in 4 1/3 innings of work. Since his earned runs tally exceeded his innings total for that particular outing, that qualifies as a "disaster start." To say the least, you don't want one of those in the postseason.
FStarling Marte and Neil Walker. They're the Pirates 1-2 hitters -- the table-setters -- but in the NLDS they did precious little setting of tables. Combined, Marte and Walker went a foul-smelling 1-for-38 (1-for-38!) across the five games. With no one on base for the power bats in the middle of the lineup, the Pittsburgh offense was deeply compromised.
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