October 4, 2013
NLDS Game Two Recap: Pirates 7, Cardinals 1
Game Two of the NL Divisional Series between the Pirates and Cardinals was another boat race. This time, the Pirates prevailed victorious.
The conceit in the Game One recap was simple: Sometimes the starting pitchers decide the game. That much remained true in Game Two. Lance Lynn came out roaring, fanning the first two batters with a bat-evading slider reminiscent of Adam Wainwright's curveball domination in Game One. But, whereas Wainwright paid for one mistake on Thursday, Lynn paid for his mistakes over and over again on Friday.
Trouble started in the second inning. In establishing a theme with this series, the opposing pitcher again assisted his own cause. Just as Wainwright started the rally in Game One with a seven-pitch walk, Gerrit Cole drove in the game's first run with a line-drive single. In a way, the Cardinals asked for it, or at least for Cole to bat. Pedro Alvarez had doubled, Russell Martin had made the inning's second out, and Mike Matheny then chose to intentionally walk Jordy Mercer.
Intentionally walking anyone that earlier is often questionable, but it made sense for a few reasons:
1) The walk didn't advance the lead runner;
2) There were two outs in the inning;
3) The pitcher was on deck.
Of course it is worth pointing out Cole's regular-season line (.206/.229/.206) is better than the league-average mark at the position (.132/.164/.169). Yet that performance came in a small sample, and the difference isn't enough to call Cole a good hitter. It didn't matter. Lynn fell behind 1-0 then threw a fastball over the plate, which Cole hit into center field.