Still, you can't win a well-pitched game without some offense. And the Cards woke up the Giants when Matt "Take a" Holliday rolls into 2B, taking out Scutaro with a legal but nasty slide. For a while, it was not sure if we had lost Scutaro. But he came back, and that might have inspired the team or also the fact that Holliday pulled that dirty move, as first Pagan hit that lead-off homer (second in the playoffs) the team scored four runs in the bottom of the 4th, with Scutaro getting the key hit, driving in two runs, with a third run coming in on Holliday's fielding error. Later, Scutaro had to leave the game and his replacement, Theriot, formerly a Cardinal last season, singled to drive in two more runs for a 7-1 lead, which was the final score. Both Affeldt and Romo pitched one inning and shut out the Cards.
Game 3: Cain vs. Lohse
Matt Cain: The Giants won eight of Cain's final 10 regular-season starts, which earned him the Division Series Game 1 start against Cincinnati. His 55 regular-season wins since the beginning of 2009 are the NL's third-most.
Kyle Lohse: After leading the Cardinals to a Wild Card game win, Lohse made one of the best starts of his career in Game 4 of the NLDS. Though a lack of run support cost him the win, he needed only 87 pitches to pitch seven innings, giving up a run on two hits.Cain has not been pitching up to his high standards during the playoffs, but he has been OK in his starts so far, with two 3 PQS starts, and he was one out away from a 5 PQS in his last game. He has been hit hard in the new Busch Stadium, 8.27 ERA in 3 starts, 16.1 IP, giving up 22 hits and 8 walks, striking out 14 and giving up 3 homers. That was a bad start in 2008 and 2012, sandwiched around a good start in 2009. And he was really unlucky in his last start, it was a 3 PQS and one out away from a DOM start, yet he gave up a lot of runs.
Cain has been a different, much better, pitcher in recent years so I thought I would run over his St. Louis experience over the past 3 seasons. He had 4 starts, 23.2 IP but gave up 27 hits, obviously BABIPed there, plus he gave up 4 HR, 1.5 HR/9 so that is also above his normal career numbers. More key is that he had 20 K's, for a 7.6 K/9 and only had 6 walks, for a great 3.33 K/BB ratio. So he has actually pitched very well, but BABIP was high as well as HR hit, and both contributed to his high ERA of 4.94 over the three years. If BABIP and HR rate regresses to his career mean, he should dominate the Cards with his 3.33 K/BB ratio and 7.6 K/9.
Many hitters have not done well. Holliday has the most AB, due to his years with Colorado, and he only hit .200/.277/.450/.727, but 3 HR in 40 AB. Beltran, of course, has hit him well, .389/.450/.778/1.228 in 18 AB. Molina has done OK, .286/.363/.357/.710 in 17 PA. John Jay went 4 for 6 and Matt Carpenter went 4 for 4. Schumaker has a .432 OPS, Descalso .250 OPS, Freese .143 OPS, Craig .000 OPS.
Lohse has a 3.40 ERA in Busch Stadium overall, 3.42 ERA against the Giants in AT&T, and no starts in St. Louis against the Giants. Both RHB and LHB hit him well, though he is much better against RHB: .272/.317/.425/.742 and 2.66 K/BB against RHB, .282/.342/.450/.792 and 1.84 against LHB. However, this season, he has been stellar at home, 2.33 ERA in 16 starts, 108.0 IP, giving up 91 hits and 24 BB, striking out 74 (6.2 K/9 and 3.08 K/BB).
There are some players who have faced him a lot. Pence has a lot, and did OK, hitting .298/.327/.383/.710 but no homer in 47 AB. Huff has been horrible, but Theriot has been great, so he's probably going to get the start because of that plus to give Scutaro a rest, .545/.545/.818/1.364 in 22 AB. Meanwhile, Scutaro has a .400 OPS in 15 AB. Pagan .500/.429/.667/1.095 in 7 PA and Blanco 1 for 2 and Sandoval 1 for 3.
Lohse actually outperformed Cain in terms of PQS, he had a 70% DOM vs. 63% DOM for Cain (both had 0% DIS). But obviously, his ERA was much worse than Cain. That's partly because he only had a 6.1 K/9 but because he don't walk many, his K/BB is stellar at 3.76, while Cain had the much higher 7.9 K/9 similar 3.78 K/BB because his walk rate was a little higher. Plus, of course, Cain has a career BABIP of .268, which is much better than the .300 mean that most ordinary pitchers, like Lohse, regress to. Lohse has a career .301 BABIP, FYI.
Lohse did not pitch that well in the Wild Card Play-In game, 2 PQS, but had a 5 PQS start in game 4 of the NLDS, the only DOM start the Cards got in their playoffs series, which matched what the Giants got, though I would note that Cain was one out away from a DOM (5 PQS) start in game 5 (he had a 3 PQS instead).
Sidenote: I ran through the pitching performances in the NLDS for the Giants and it was actually pretty even, even though the Reds could have won at any time. The Giants had the better PQS in games 1 and 5 (both Cain starts) and worse in games 2 and 3. Game 4 was even because both starters had a DIS start. So it really could have gone either way. The Reds lost because, although they had 2 DOM starts to our 1 DOM start, they had 3 DIS starts to our 2 DIS starts. And as I've noted before, avoiding DIS starts are just about as important as getting a DOM start, probably more important in terms of keeping your ERA low. Obviously, the Cards and Giants tied in game 1 of the NLCS as both starters had 0 PQS starts. But the Giants got a DOM start in game 2, whereas the Cards got another 0 PQS start.
Sideobservation: the media started copying me by publishing the same information as I am doing here regarding pitcher vs. batter matchups, so I assume they are reading my blog since I've never seen them do that before (one reporter doing it sure, maybe random, but two?). Though they aren't being consistent, so who knows. But if they do make it a consistent thing they provide, I'll probably stop here. Like I've said from the beginning of my blog, the main reason I write is because I don't see this type of information available, and I'll stop if I don't need to generate the info myself, I'll be happy to give it up.
Scutaro's x-rays was negative, he appears to be fine, and he has two days to get better, though I don't know how it will react with the airplane flight and the air pressure. He will also get an MRI which should help clarify his condition. Thought his leg or knee would be the problem area, but all the reports look like it is his hips. Hopefully he is OK, he had two hits in the game and the RBIs, and he and Pagan got on base 5 times (plus one for Theriot).
Still, Theriot had done well for us in the #2 spot earlier in the season once he got healthy, so I would be OK if Scutaro misses a game to get some rest and healthier. His stats just show how important it is to be healthy and why players should just get well first then try to help the team, only superstars can help the team subpar. Theriot had problems since at least spring training but didn't want to not play and help the team. But he struggled to May 8th before DLing. He was hitting .179/.217/.196/.413 up to then. Once he returned on May 25, he started hitting like he could. In the first month of his return he hit .318/.357/374/.730, which is good for the #2 position. And from his return to Scutaro taking over 2B, he hit .282/.332/.338/.671, which, while not great, is acceptable for a replacement starter. He basically hit well for exactly two months - .311/.360/.372/732 - then was back to his poor hitting early in the season until Scutaro took over 2B.
This is the game we need to get, and that, really, is the way it is with every game in any playoff series, I'm beginning to realize. Each loss in a series is magnified, and thus each win. Lohse has pitched well during the season but is not much of a strikeout guy, so he can be BABIPed into submission. Also, the offense appears to be fired up and if Scutaro is still bothered greatly on Wednesday, that will be a reminder to the team to focus and take care of business in that first game in St. Louis. And this current Giants lineup seems to love being on the road.
The playoffs is actually a stark reflection of their second half. The team was not that great at home, I think they might have even been only around .500, whereas they were great on the road and won a lot of games there, that is how they won the NL West Division title, by playing great on the road in the second half. At home in the second half, they were 14-15 until they went 8-2 in their last homestand, while on the road, they were 23-8 until their final road trip, when they had already clinched, and finished 3-3 on the road. And so far, they are 1-3 at home, 3-0 on the road.
And the game looks winnable, as lefties has hit Lohse better during this career and Cain, while he has a bad history against them, it looks like he was BABIPed before, so it should even out eventually, perhaps this game. He has shown good skills performance in recent seasons against the Cards - but just had a lot of bad luck in BABIP and homers - and thus we should expect a good game out of him here. And while he hasn't had a DOM start yet, he was just one out away in his last start, which Bochy usually would have let him do in the regular season, and he pitched OK in his first start, so it wasn't like Cain hasn't done well, just that he didn't duplicate his 2010 performance of throwing shutout after shutout. That's once in a lifetime thing, what he's doing so far is OK, just that we are expecting (hoping for) more out of our first starter. He should be good in this start.
Not that everything is great. Beltran and Jay appear to be the two hitters Cain needs to watch out for in this start, which will make things tough because they are the two hitters atop their lineup. Plus, of course, they have home advantage, which they had taken advantage of before, 50-31 at home, only 38-43 on the road.
However, there are mitigating factors on that great home record. First, they are only 57-57 against RHP. Which is why I think Lincecum is starting game 4, and not Zito, though I can see him starting game 5 in place of Bumgarner. And they are only 39-40 against winning teams, while the Giants were 44-42, so the Cards did what they had to do at home, take care of the lousy teams, but overall, they have had a tough time - like all good teams - against other good teams.
It should be a good game and I think we have a good chance of winning it, because I think Cain is a better pitcher than Lohse, who has had a good two seasons but that appears to be very good luck in BABIP, which balanced out his career BABIP that was higher than .300. Of course, perhaps Lohse figured out something with the Cards in recent years. Still, I think Cain has been the better pitcher and the Giants offense has been better on the road, and still they took it to the Cards pitchers well in the first two games of the NLCS, suggesting that they might do even better in St. Louis.
Vogelsong had an epic achievement in the game: he doubled. It is the first double by a Giants pitcher in the post-season since the 1923 World Series (saw this reported from most media sources). Plus, Pagan is only the second player ever to have two leadoff homer in the playoffs. Rollins did it for the Phillies in 2008, which is when they won their one and only World Series during this great stretch of winning in recent years.