Sunday, October 21, 2012

Your 2012 Giants: Game 7 of the NLCS

Wow!  When your team is against their backs by a lot, all you can really hope for is that they win the next game and live to see another day.  That was true for the Giants in Cincy, that was true now.  Yet here we are, tied 3-3 in the 2012 NLCS, now with both teams against the backs, and the Giants one win away from a historical, epic playoff run to the World Series.

Momentum is truly on the Giants side plus they are playing at home.  In fact, 13 of the 14 teams to force a Game 7 has won that game.  However, as we know, the Cards have been pushed to the brink themselves and have come up big before, first winning their playoff play-in game against Atlanta in Atlanta, then wins the NLDS even though they were behind 6-0, coming up with the improbable win against the Nationals.  So here we are with two teams that has both beaten the immense odds over and over again, but in this game, one will continue to claim divine providence, while the other will be left wondering how it could have gone so wrong at the last moment.

Game 7:  Lohse vs. Cain
Kyle Lohse: Lohse has a 1.96 ERA in three postseason starts this year, the latest a Game 3 win over the Giants and fellow Game 7 starter Matt Cain. Lohse tossed 5 2/3 innings of one-run ball in that outing, but struggled with his command as he walked five. 
Matt Cain: Cain lost Game 3, allowing three runs -- two on a Matt Carpenter homer -- in 6 2/3 innings. He hasn't been as impressive this postseason as he was in 2010, when he didn't allow an earned run, but he is the ace the Giants want on the mound in Game 7.
Here is what I wrote for Game 3:
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).
Of course, despite Cain outpitching him via peripherals, with a DOM start (4 PQS) while Lohse had a disaster start, yet Lohse outpitched Cain where it counted by not allowing as many runs, despite giving up all those hits and walks, putting the Giants down 1-2 in the series at that point.  Now Cain hopes to return the favor and win this start.

ogc thoughts

Wow, Vogelsong delivers another DOM start, this time, perhaps inspired by Zito's DOM start in Game 5, he had a 5 PQS start, easily.  He delivered another amazing start for the Giants, coming through again for the team, when we really needed him to deliver for us.  He kept his game face on and calmly and methodically shut down the Cards, running a no-hitter into the 5th inning, 4.2 IP of no-hit superbness.  He struck out 6 of the first 9 hitters, and set a career high in strikeouts in a start with 9.  He also joined Cain as the only pitcher for the Giants in the last 100 years to give up only 1 ER in three post-season starts.  EPIC.  The Giants won its fifth straight elimination game win.  Now it is Cainer's turn to continue the streak and throw another 5 PQS DOM start.

Meanwhile, Carpenter appears to have hit the wall, whether due to stamina or dead arm or whatever, in any case, he was up to the task, he was not up to his stellar post-season history of performance, and the Giants scored early and often, though not enough to knock him out of the game, as he was able to pitch another couple of innings, helping out their bullpen.  Still, he only lasted 4 innings so there was some burn in their bullpen.

Now it is for the whole enchilada, which happens to be Vogelsong's pre-start ritual, eating a chicken enchilada the day before his start.  Cainer vs. Lohse.  Cain most probably will throw a better game than Lohse, but as Lohse has been doing it the past few years for the Cards, he has been just doing enough to throw DOM starts at the other team and keep his ERA low but not that low, despite not being much of a strikeout pitcher.  But those types of pitchers, while usually likely to throw a good game, will suffer at the hands of the baseball gods sometimes as they get BABIPed to death.

It should be a great game, perhaps with the lead going back and forth.  I would normally give Cain and the Giants the lean for home park advantage, but this is no ordinary game, this is a game for all the marbles, for the right to play for the National League in the World Series, and both teams have shown a lot of resiliency to last as deeply into the playoffs as they have.

I would not be surprised though if either team does bust out for a lot of runs, but I would expect the Giants to do that, not the Cards, even though they have the more powerful lineup, because, as I've been writing about on my blog, it is the pitching that controls the pace of the game and Cain has been the better pitcher than Lohse, as good as Lohse has been the past few years with the Cards, Cain has been better.  But it is not like Cain has not had bad games in the past either.  And Lohse did show up Cain in their last matchup.

But in general, Cain has been the better pitcher than Lohse, and that is what I expect in this game.  It is like I wrote the other day, if Zito can deliver for us in game 5, I like our chances of winning the series, even with the need to win two, because we would have Vogelsong and Cain pitching for us.  That normally delivers a win, but as we saw in game 3, it is not a given.  Still, the team has played great, and I'm very proud of what they have accomplished, no matter what happens in this game.  And as my research showed, the team with the better, more dominant pitching normally wins.  Not always win, but normally wins.  And the Giants have had the better pitching.

However, in 2011, the Phillies totally outpitched the Cards in PQS but lost the series to them.  Totally.  So you never know.  Also, as much as history was against the Giants before, history is actually now against the Cards in this game, with 13 of 14 teams forced to a game 7 by the other team losing, so they are the ones with the underdog mantle in game 7.  I don't know what the odds are for the Cards overcoming a six run deficit in their Nats series, but I imagine it could not be any worse than 1 of 14 odds facing them historically regarding being forced into a 7th game.  Also, Lohse has actually had a pretty bad history in the playoffs until this season, when he has been mostly good.  History of all kinds is colliding here in this game, and I have to wonder if a victory here will propel that team to win the World Series, even though Verlander and the Tigers appear to be invincible.

Can't say it enough time, it should be a great game.

Go Giants!

Get into the World Series!

#Avenge1987

Live to spend another day with your beloved teammates, live to get Scutaro into his first World Series, complete your impossible dream of coming back down 2-0 and 3-1 in each series.


12 comments:

  1. What a series! What a team! Game 7 for all the marbles! That was just straight up manly pitching by Vogelsong. Love it.

    I think it will come down to 2 things, at least in the early innings: Cain cannot give up that long ball like he has in the past few starts. The second thing, he seems to tire in the 5th-6th and Bochy has left him in a tad long, although not with MadBum results. I think Bochy has to have a good trigger on this one. And third, Lohse - they will get hits, they need to string them. Maybe they should all rub Scutaro's head for luck - Scutaro knows how to rise up to the moment and BUST THE GAME OPEN!

    Seriously, the big hit, that is what the Giants are looking for, and all that torture stuff, the 2-1 games... Scutaro has just stepped up in 61 games and shown us how to step up, do some damage. He has just been epic.

    Pablo continues to come to the light, as Pence and Posey are getting further frustrated. Belt with a booming hit, and look at the intentional walk to Crawford backfire after Boch ordered the butcher boy.

    Watching MLB network they are really hammering the Cards for unearned runs and errors. I haven't looked it up, but my gut says the Giants have been able to capitalize some on the errors, but mainly by hitting in the runners after the errors. The other thing I'm thinking about this is that their middle infield is extremely youthful, plus Carpenter at 1B instead of Craig... Don't know, the Cards are usually good fundamentally. I expect them to bring the best tomorrow. But if a run puts pressure, and then something worse happens (as it has in the past 2 games), well...

    Big huge game. Cain should be good, but Bochy better be ready to turn it to an epic pen game. This is what baseball is all about, and the pennant is almost as big a trophy as the WS. The Cards will not go down easy, Molina and Freese can step up huge, and Ol' Beltran as well. I hope that Lohse isn't able to pitch out of situations the way he did in game 3. Giants need to execute.

    Win or lose, I love this team. Cannot wait for tomorrow night. (Rain???)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good call on the two key things, can't argue against them.

      As the stats showed in the game, the Cards were one of the best teams in not allowing unearned runs, so this has been an anomaly for them. But this is the playoffs, and they have a lot of young players contributing, and some players get tight in the playoff pressure, they are just human. And, Carpenter is a hack at 1B defensively: not his fault, he just was never prepared to play any other position other than 3B, where he has been good for the Cards.

      That brings up a point I thought I would focus on here for a moment. Lots of articles talking about how great the Cards farm system is in contributing players to their playoff roster, but the Giants have not been lacking in that department either. And, to their credit, they do play their key prospects at multiple positions, which gives the Giants flexibility in how they configure their lineups and rosters. That advantage comes to the fore here, with the Cards placing Carpenter, who is horrible defensively except for 3B.

      I would also note that Kozma, while playing mostly SS in the minors, played mostly 2B this season, and he was very good defensively at SS previously, but had a tough time with it this season while playing mostly 2B. Perhaps the fumble is a carryforward of that fumble fingers during the minors. Still, he's been great defensively at SS in the majors so that was a minor aberration, at least to me, but just fortunate for us.

      I think you and I agree that Bochy had not been as trigger happy as we both would have liked earlier in these playoffs, but I think he knows this is do or die, and as I've been beating the drums over the past three seasons now, he is a great manager when the chips are down. Especially with Lincecum hot in the bullpen and ready to shut down the Cards if needed.

      Yes, the offense needs to execute against Lohse, because once we get into their bullpen, well, it's like getting into our bullpen, no team wants that. And whereas Cain is a shutdown type of pitcher, Lohse is more of a minimalist - low K's but very low BB's - as he pitches to weak contact when he is on, or knocked around when he is not. As I noted, his history in the playoffs is not good, this is his first one where he's not only good in one game, but multiple But the crack was showing in the last start, with all those hits and walks, he was lucky to get out with just 1 ER. He might not be so lucky in game 7, as we got Panda Kung Fu-ing the ball all around now, along with Scutaro hot as ever.

      Scutaro appears to be the Giants Renteria of 2010, only he's producing, which has to also inspire them too, for if this old pro can still do it at his age, to fulfill his dream, how can the young guys not be inspired by that?

      And it is kind of funny, if you read through all the interviews, the players seem to be saying all the same things, like they were all prepped to say that, like that classic episode of WKRP where they were doing a documentary on their sleazy sales manager, and when asked their thoughts on him, each person said the exact same words, word for word.

      But I like that. That gives the players one message to think about, and to try to get away from all the other thoughts that might interfere with their performance in the games. It gets rid of a lot of negativity that might creep in, keeping players focused on the task at hand.

      And they are so close now...

      Delete
    2. I agree. Given the choice of prospects, I'm keeping Crawford and Belt, thank you very much. Their defense is Gold Glove, if we're talking about a standard, politicized as that is. Its just excellent. Their bats are coming along. They are really young. I think both are very high baseball IQ players who instinctively know where to put the ball on the field. There are certain things you can't teach. Having a shortstop where the ball goes to the hole and you expect a play to be made is huge. Our pitchers love that. And having a guy who is 6'6 and can pick it, move well and make extra outs down the line over the rail... Belt is good stuff.

      Then again I was always a big fan of the Keith Hernandez/JT Snow intangibles with great defense. I'm in that camp over the "big bat" 1B. So I'm very biased.

      Delete
  2. Interesting tidbit from the MLB.com: The Giants will be taking their sixth crack at winning the first Game 7 win in their club's 130-year history.

    If they can do that, that would be EPIC!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And, of course, the last time we faced an elimination game at home was game 7 in 1962 when McCovey hit that line drive...

      Hohpefully someone will finally hit that line drive for a knock instead in this game.

      Delete
    2. First game 7 in PacBell history. Let's write it!

      Delete
  3. So I don't get an ulcer, or some type of psychiatric breakdown, I want the giants to win this game in a blowout from start to finish, never stopping to expand their league. Lets not let Cain get Cained, not this time, not on our watch.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Epic notes:

    Scutaro just set a record for number of multiple-hit games in an LCS with 6 games.

    Also, from Chron's Splash:

    A FOX replay showed Pence’s broken-bat grounder was especially weird – the ball broke the bat and then the broken upper half of the bat struck the ball again, which might explain why the bouncer took a weird right-hand turn. More baseball gods stuff?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I should have also mentioned: that triple-double hit (ball hit three times for a two-base hit) is EPIC!

      Delete
    2. Here is an EPIC story about the broken bat, the accidental selling of the bat and ball for memorabilia through their program, and the return of both for nothing much compared to what it probably could have been sold for: http://www.csnbayarea.com/baseball-san-francisco-giants/giants-talk/Giants-fan-feels-whole-by-returning-Penc?blockID=793005&feedID=10850

      Delete
  5. THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT! THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT!

    ReplyDelete
  6. No ulcer, no psychiatric breakdown, the giants did it, and I thank them for my physical and mental health.

    ReplyDelete

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