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October 16, 2012

Playoff Prospectus

NLCS Game 2 Recap: Giants 7, Cardinals 1

by R.J. Anderson

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There’s been a lot of talk about narratives lately, mostly concerning the Yankees and identifying reasons for their struggles. By comparison, the National League Championship Series seemed almost boring. Here you had two good teams playing for a chance to win their second world title in a two- or three-year span—nothing exciting about that whatsoever. In Monday night’s Game Two, the series-defining narrative arrived.

It happened almost right away. In the first inning, with runners on first and second base with one out, Allen Craig hit a groundball to the shortstop Brandon Crawford. Crawford threw the ball to Marco Scutaro, and Scutaro turned and fired the ball to Brandon Belt. Craig was called safe on the play and the inning continued. But that didn’t matter. What did matter was how aggressively the baserunner, Matt Holliday, went into second base. Holliday’s slide resembled a tackling effort as much as anything. If the intent was to disrupt Scutaro then Holliday succeeded and some; Scutaro fell to the earth and rolled in pain before getting up and continuing with the game.

Holliday’s actions allowed for a good-versus-evil talking point to be conceived—a storyline that was in everyone’s mind when Holliday flubbed a line drive off Scutaro’s bat a few innings later. The Giants scored three runs on the play, pushing the score to 5-1. They would win 7-1 and Scutaro would leave in the late innings to have x-rays taken. Holliday, by the way, did not receive his comeuppance in the form of a hit-by-pitch. He did make one big mistake in the field and perhaps another big mistake on the basepaths—or at least that’s how we’ll all tell it if the Giants go on to take this series.

  • Ryan Vogelsong pitched well: seven innings, four hits, one run, two walks, and four strikeouts. There had been some talk about whether Vogelsong or Tim Lincecum would make the next start in this slot, tentatively scheduled for Game Six. Vogelsong, who has now had the Giants starters’ best two starts in the postseason, should get the ball if it comes to that.
  • And it might not come to that, because Lincecum could start Game Four in place of Barry Zito instead. Either way, Vogelsong is almost certainly one of the Giants’ four best starting pitchers right now.
  • Speaking of starting pitchers, Chris Carpenter wasn’t horrible, either. His defense cost him, but he wasn’t five-runs-allowed poor.
  • The sixth and seventh Giants runs were allowed by Shelby Miller, who made his postseason debut tonight and threw 1 1/3 innings.
  • Those sixth and seventh runs were knocked in by Scutaro’s replacement, Ryan Theriot. Karma! Or coincidence. You decide.
  • Kyle Lohse and Matt Cain will meet in Game Three on Wednesday afternoon, with both vying to give their teams what’s always described as a critical 2-1 lead in the series. 

R.J. Anderson is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see R.J.'s other articles. You can contact R.J. by clicking here

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