Looking at the ER, one might have thought the opposition about the two starters. When Lohse needed to quell an uprising, he did, while Cain made the wrong pitch to the wrong batter, but was otherwise superb. Take that pitch and result out, and it's still tied 1-1, bottom of the ninth. Add a key hit in almost any inning, and the Giants win.
Coincidentally, this is reminiscent of the first game with the Reds, when Cueto went down: when Beltran went down with his knee injury, I thought, alright, that improves our chances, then when I found out it was Carpenter taking over, I got all worried before he was 4 for 4 against Cain during his career, and worried that might be the key to the game. And like Cueto going down, Beltran going down helped our opponent, rather than helped us. But if he's out for the series - no news yet, but it sounds like it is not that serious, day to day, but it has been something bothering him all season, so who knows - Carpenter's very, very, very, very poor defense in RF should hurt them at some point. He could be the Brooks Conrad of this series.
I happened to be able to see the last part of the game on TV and when I saw Carpenter, I couldn't believe how puny looking he looks (wow, TV sure does shrink people, he's 6' 3" and 200 lb according to baseball-reference.com; he looked like this slim guy on TV), and yet he took Cain yard. As much as I want to blame the offense for not doing more with all the hits and walks they produced, Cain should also take blame for letting this slight of build non-homerun hitter - he only had 6 HR in 296 AB during the season - beat us. He wasn't even that good a prospect in the minors, old for the league, didn't hit for that much power, struck out a little too much, but did walk a ton, he's a Moneyball type hitter in that way.
Game 3: Lincecum vs. Wainwright
Tim Lincecum: In 8 1/3 innings of relief this postseason, the two-time Cy Young Award winner has allowed just one run. Lincecum returns to his familiar role as a starter for Game 4, looking to put his regular-season struggles (5.18 ERA) behind him.
Adam Wainwright: Wainwright is thrilled to get a chance for redemption after making the shortest start of his career in one of the biggest games he's pitched. Wainwright was chased from his second NLDS start in Game 5 after giving up six runs in 2 1/3 innings.Lincecum.has pretty good career numbers in St. Louis, 5 starts, 3.21 ERA, 33.2 IP, giving up 30 hits and 8 walks, striking out 31 for a 8.3 K/9 and 3.88 K/BB, both very good. And he has done well against them generally, career 2.89 ERA in 7 starts, so he's even better against them in AT&T.
However, that was then and this is now. He has not faced a lot of the current Cards, but the ones he has faced has hit him well or well enough. Holliday, of course, has the most exposure due to his years in Colorado, he has a .294/.368/.353/.721 batting line in 38 PA. Schumaker, who has not played much, has a .304/.333/.478/.812 batting line. Beltran, who hurt his knee yesterday (karmic payback for last season?), has really killed Timmy, .500/.650/.929/1.579 in 20 PA, 7 for 14 with 6 walks! He has a homer and 3 doubles in those 7 hits. Molina has also done well, .389/.421/.389/.810 in 19 PA.
Others with more limited play: Jay .667 OPS (2 for 6 but 3 K's), Descalso 1.500 OPS (2 for 4 with triple), Freese .000 OPS (0 for 4); Craig 2.667 OPS (1 for 2 with homer and walk); Kozma 0 for 1.
Wainwright has done very well against the Giants in St. Louis, 1.08 ERA in 3 appearances, including 2 starts, 16.2 IP, 19 K's vs. only 7 BB's. But in AT&T, he only had a 4.11 ERA, with 30.2 IP and only 15 K's vs. 7 BB's. So the Giants have done well against him before, just not really in St. Louis. Like his fellow starters, he's much worse against LHB, which has hit him for .258/.323/.388/.710, vs. RHB, only .238/.285/.350/.635, but still, that's pretty good against LHB still, so it should be a tough game.
He has pretty much kept the hitters who have extensive exposure against him at bay. Nady has the highest OPS (.831) in 25 PA among the hitters with at least 3 games against him. Pagan has hit him nicely, .333/.467/.333/.800 in 15 PA. Pence is .289/.289/.447/.737 in 38 PA, he's the only one among the Giants with a homer against him. Theriot is only .265/.286/.324/.609 in 36 PA. Pablo is .300/.364/.300/.664 in 11 PA. So overall, the Giants hitters hit Wainwright pretty well - overall, .297/.339/.361/.700 - but he's able to limit the damage by only giving up mostly singles and the occasional walk.
Others who have hit well in limited play: Belt 1.000 OPS (double and 2 walks in 6 PA), Crawford 1.167 OPS (double, 2 singles), Posey .900 OPS (2 for 5 with a walk).
Bochy said that you need to throw all the regular season numbers out for the playoffs. I don't quite agree, but he makes the good point, because human emotions and frailties and foibles show up more in the playoffs because of the intensified environment of the playoffs. And I think this is very so in this game.
I think it is still useful to know how hitters have done before against the pitchers (like Matt Carpenter yesterday against Cain), but in this game, we don't know what we have in both pitchers. This has been the worse season for both pitchers, by far, compared to their last three seasons, obviously, especially so for Tim.
Wainwright, though, still had a very good season, per PQS, with 69% DOM and only 13% DIS, versus Timmy's 55% and 24%. He also ended the season well, racking up most of his 5 PQS starts in the second half. Tim did better too but ended on an off-note, resulting in his bullpen assignment. However, Wainwright has had two bad starts in the playoffs, compare to his season, whereas Timmy has been superb in relief in the playoffs. Wainwright is getting totally BABIPed, giving up a lot of hits and homers.
But that might be where Wainwright is right now. He missed the entire 2011 season with Tommy John surgery. His stamina might not be where he would like it. His K/9 has dropped each month from June: 9.5 K/9, 8.8, 8.2, 7.5 and while he did well PQS in the last month of the season, his K/BB ratio was down to 2.27, good but basically around average.
The odd thing is that he has been striking out a storm in the playoffs, 10 in 5.2 IP then 5 in 2.1 IP, and only 3 walks total in the 8.0 IP. It's like he's good until he's bad, at which point the hitters just attack away for a lot of hits. And that sounds a lot like what we got from Timmy during the season.
Fangraphs had an analysis wondering if Wainwright had hit the wall. He settled down and did well after that, so not at that point of the season, but maybe he did finally hit the wall now. Looking at the sinker velocity chart in Fangraphs that the author looked at, as one can see, his sinker has been clearly not as fast as it was when he was last healthy in 2010 (in fact, looking at his last game in 2010, that huge drop suggests that maybe something broke in that game). His sinker in 2012 was almost always lower than what he regularly did in 2010, falling from roughly 92 MPH to around 90 MPH in 2012. And he was on a definite downturn right after the All-Star break, a trend line which he got above in a couple of his last starts of the season, perhaps on adrenaline because the Cards needed the games to make the playoffs. But if you're tired, you're tired.
So I'll make the same prediction I made the other day, this game will probably be a tightly pitched game until one or both of the pitchers loses it and the batting parade begins. I feel good about our chances, we should have won last night's game but we got BABIPed. Wainright will be tough like Lohse, but I think ripe for the picking if someone could deliver a key hit, and he's been struggling in the playoffs, whereas Lohse has at least been doing well, so hopefully our hitters can take advantage.
Bat Pence 3rd
And that is where we need some help in, again, the key hits. Pence's slump has been taken advantage of by the other teams by walking Posey. I think it is time to swap him and Sandoval so that Pence bats 3rd and Pablo 5th. Saber theory about the lineup is that you should put your 5th best hitter batting third because of this anomaly that happens because the game starts with the leadoff hitter: the third place hitter faces a lot more bases empty, two outs situations, than other spots in the lineup. This is verified in the regression analysis of run production by lineup position based on OBP and SLG. As an RBI producing position, it is actually up there with batting leadoff (.931 for leadoff, .933 for 3rd, 1.504 for cleanup, and 1.146 for 5th).
I understand Pence is not hitting, so why up and not down. The thing is that he is a good hitter but in a funk right now. Putting him third accomplishes four key things. First is putting Pablo, who is productive, in the more productive spot, 5th. Second is that by batting ahead of Posey, he hopefully will see more fastballs and that will help him out of his funk. Third is that his ego doesn't take a hit moving up to 3rd, only if he moves down. Bochy can use the "see more fastball" rationale to justify that. Fourth, and probably the most important, is that having Pablo batting behind Posey will force the other team to pitch to Posey more often instead of walking him to avoid him. Number one thing we need is Posey getting to swing the bat and do damage, and Pence hitting behind him right now isn't doing it.
We could also move Belt higher in the lineup, either to 3rd or 5th, but I think that could be counter productive. Belt has shown over the past two seasons that he puts too much pressure on himself to hit. That makes him strike out a lot while not getting many hits. Much like early in his season and in his hitting in the Reds series, and evidenced by a lot of strikeouts.
To his credit, he worked on it all this season and was in a good spot as a hitter in the second half of the season: in the last two months he hit .329/.390/.494/.884 with an 84% contact rate, and 0.54 BB/K ratio. While he only had 3 HR in 170 AB (57 AB/HR is very low), his ISO was a good 165, as he got a lot of doubles and triples. And he appears to be OK now in the Cards series, only 2 K's in 11 AB, 82% contact rate, 0.50 BB/K ratio.
Moving him to a higher pressure lineup position like 3rd or 5th would only risk taking him out of his comfort zone, which he has worked so hard to get to. And which the Giants thought was important enough to state that he's only playing 1B this season. That they tried him in LF late in the season is a good sign that they felt that he was finally feeling good about everything at that point. But in the playoffs, that is whole different story, and if the Giants are to win this series - much like they won the last series with the Reds - they will need contributions from across the lineup, up and down, and Blanco, Belt, and Crawford appear to be in a good groove at the bottom. Now we need to perk up the middle of the lineup.
And the best move there is to swap Pablo and Pence.