Game 2: Carpenter vs. Vogelsong
Chris Carpenter: Making just his fourth start of the year, Carpenter pitched 5 2/3 shutout innings in the Cardinals' Game 3 win in the NLDS. Carpenter's command and arm strength have improved each time out, meaning that durability is no longer a concern.
Ryan Vogelsong: Vogelsong no-hit Cincinnati in the final four innings of his NLDS Game 3 start, which happened to be his first postseason appearance. Opponents hit .426 off him with runners in scoring position in his last nine regular-season outings.Carpenter is amazing, coming back from missing all that time with his injury, then after mid-season surgery. And all at 37 YO. He worked his way up too. He had a 3 PQS but probably could have had a 4 if he could have went one more inning, he appeared to have been capped as to pitch count. Then he had two DOM starts to end the season. He had a 1 PQS disaster start in the playoffs, but was able to stop the damage and ended up with a shutout in 5.2 IP against the Nationals, and one more out would have made it a 2 PQS start. And he has been great in his career, so he looks to be a tough pitcher to hit against.
He has two starts, but long ago, 2004 and 2009, against the Giants. But Pence has faced him a lot with the Astros. Huff and Theriot too, but only Theriot has any success (a lot of success at that, .467/.500/.667/1.167), Pence and Huff were pretty much shut down (under .600 OPS). Sandoval has done OK, in multiple games, .730 OPS. The rest are just one game, presumably in St. Louis. Posey, Belt, and Crawford did well.
He hasn't been as good in recent years as he was before, but he generally has shut down RHB and been hit OK (.272/.332/.426/.758) by LHB, and as noted before, we have a number of LHB in our lineup. He has also done a little worse on the road than at home. But he has been in a good groove since recovering from his surgery, and presumably his poor results were related to the physical problem that was fixed by the surgery.
Vogelsong had a good year, again, 65% DOM, only 13% DIS, so it should be a good battle in this game. He has a bad history against the Cards, but more importantly for us, in the last two years, he has pretty much shut them down, 1 run in 5.0 IP in 2011, 0 run in 7.0 IP in 2012 (2 PQS and 3 PQS), shutting down the other team when he wasn't at his best. He has done very well against RHP in the past two seasons, pretty good against LHP (low 700 OPS). However, Beltran is a new guy and has done very well against Vogie, 1.319 OPS (including HR), also Jon Jay and Matt Carpenter had good success in limited exposure. But he has mostly shut down the team, as his results the past two years show.
Looks like it will be another tough game. Carpenter has been a crafty guy, but so has Vogelsong. Carpenter has not been totally dominant in his starts but he has been pretty good still. Same with Vogelsong. But Carpenter's weakness is LHB and we have a number of them. We have a slight edge given that we are playing at home, and they have not played well on the road, yet they are 4-1 on the road now during the playoffs. I wonder if Beltran will prove to be Vogie's undoing in this game.
Many series seem to swing depending on who happens to be hot during that playoff series. Clearly in 2010, it was Ross and Renteria. Who needs to be in this series? Pagan has been sputtering but him getting hot, I think would help Scutaro, then on down the lineup. Sandoval being hot would help both ahead of him and afterward. And I think Pence needs to be more than inspirational and more offensive, hitting for a better batting line. But it may end up being one of the guys at the bottom - Belt, Blanco, Crawford - who might become our differentiator, they got that 4-run rally going with all their hits. But we need somebody to step up, if we are to have any hope, because the Cards have a great pitching staff.
I was thinking while listening to Game 1 that there is an added level of difficulty in facing the Cardinals. Their manager, Matheny, not only is a former Giant, but he was our starting catcher too. He should be very familiar with everything that Rags and Gardy do for us in handling the pitchers, tricks of the trade. He never played until Bochy, as Bruce took over as manager the season after Matheny's last game for us, but we did have Matheny under contract for another two seasons, so he could have been around, soaking in what Bochy says and does, though perhaps not in this case as Matheny had a bad concussion that kept him at home and unable to travel. Maybe he got to see things in spring training? In any case, he knows things about the Giants that other teams don't.
At least we have Theriot on our side, he should have some ideas what is going on in the Cards dugout, though he is not as involved as a catcher would be, and thus have less knowledge that way.