October 19, 2012
Cardinals simply better than Giants
By MIKE RUTSEY, QMI Agency
ST. LOUIS - There is no real magic as to why the St. Louis Cardinals headed into Friday’s Game 5 one victory away from winning their second consecutive National League Championship Series.
They’ve out-pitched and out-hit the San Francisco Giants. They’ve been the better team.
It’s as simple as that.
Coming into Game 4, none of the 3-4-5 hitters on either team had driven in a run.
But that all changed on Thursday as the Cards' Matt Holliday went 2-for-5 with two RBIs while cleanup hitter Allen Craig was 1-for-3 with a sac fly RBI. Yadier Molina, batting fifth, went 2-for-4 with two RBIs.
So in a big game, the Cardinals clutch guys produced.
Not so for the Giants.
Buster Posey is their best hitter for both average and power but he went 0-for-4 and is not getting anything good to hit.
Hector Sanchez was behind the plate for Tim Lincecum instead of Posey, who switched to first, and batting fifth he went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts.
Pablo Sandoval was hitless in his first three trips to the plate before banging a two-run homer in the ninth in garbage time.
At the plate, the Giants’ so-called big guns are coming up empty time and again and it is killing them.
“We do have to get these bats going,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said following Thursday’s loss. “They’re shutting us down. We’ll get some guys on base, we’re just missing a big hit here or there.
“They pitched well tonight. They pitched well yesterday. It would be nice, make life easier if we could get some runs for our staff.”
In the ALCS, Yankees manager Joe Girardi didn’t have anybody hitting in his lineup and had to make some tough decisions such as benching Alex Rodriguez and Curtis Granderson.
Bochy isn’t going to go that route and will keep dancing with the players that got him this far.
“Certain players, I believe, you need in the lineup for the way they handle pressure, their energy, how much their teammates respect them and how they play the game,” Bochy said when the idea of making changes was brought up. “I don’t believe, except on rare occasions, you sit a player like that unless he’s absolutely lost.
“When you have a player who gives you everything he’s got, and you know how much he means to the club, I think you should have him out there.”
The Cardinals, meanwhile, were able to get it going against Tim Lincecum and the San Francisco relievers that followed, led by the middle of their lineup.
Holliday said it wasn’t a concern that the 4-5-6 guys hadn’t produced up but now that they have, it will boost confidence going forward.
“I don’t think you’re ever concerned,” he said. “Obviously you’d like to get those hits and build, stretch leads or get back in games. But like I said, you’re facing the toughest pitchers in the League right now. It’s a battle. It’s a grind. You’re facing good pitching. And you’re trying to have good at-bats.
“But, yeah, it was good that we broke through with some big hits and some RBI situations and allowed us to stretch the lead and gave Adam (Wainright) a little bit of a cushion. And then we were able to build on that lead as the game went on. It’s never easy, particularly in the post-season to get those runs home. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come.”
The Cardinals run to glory this season is almost a carbon copy of their route to the World Series last year.
In 2011, the Cardinals finished with a regular season record of 86-76 which was good enough to gain them entrance as the Wild Card.
However, on Aug. 25 of that season they trailed the Atlanta Braves by 10 1/2 games in the Wild Card standings. From Aug. 26-Sept. 27, the Cards went on a 21-9 run while the Braves stumbled along at 10-19.
On the final day of the season, Sept. 28, the Cards beat the Houston Astros 8-0 while the Atlanta Braves lost to the Philadelphia Phillies 4-3 in 13 innings. That put the Cards into the post-season.
In the Division Series they defeated the Phillies 3-2 and went on to the NLCS to face the Milwaukee Brewers and beat them in six games.
In last year’s World Series, the Cards went up against the Texas Rangers. After the first five games the Rangers held a 3-2 lead.
The Cards, however, rallied to win the final two games to win their 10th World Series in club history.
This season the Cards made the post-season as the second wild-card team and then beat the Braves in the Wild Card playoff game.
They are one win away from entry into the World Series against the Detroit Tigers.
Fate, once again, seems to be riding with them.