[caption id="attachment_5859" align="aligncenter" width="576"]St. Louis Cardinals 2012 MLB Playoffs Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images[/caption]

The 2012 postseason has been all but “normal” so far, considering all division series went to five games. Conclusion? The NLCS has yet to disappoint. The St. Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants. Both teams had to battle to even still be playing to this point. The Giants had to come back down 0-2 and beat the hot Cincinnati Reds in three straight games in Cincinnati.

The Cardinals, after first having to win the play-in wild card game, having to beat the Washington Nationals, who had the best record in baseball. To make it worse, the Nationals were up 6-0 in Game 5… and blew it. Both of these teams have a lot of fight, and experience this late in the season.

There is something unique about the Giants and Cardinals facing off in the 2012 NLCS. This is the first time in MLB history that the last two world champions are playing in the LCS (the Giants won it all in 2010, the Cardinals in 2011).

In Game 1, the Cardinals jumped out to an early lead in the top of the second. Yadier Molina ripped a line drive and 2011 playoff hero David Freese hit a two-run home run to give the Cardinals the first lead in the NLCS.

In the fourth, the Cardinals would add to that lead with two doubles, an RBI line drive by Jon Jay, and a two run home run by Carlos Beltran. That is until George Kontos could finally retire the Cardinals allowing 4 runs.

The Giants would answer quickly in the bottom of the fourth, when Scutaro led off with a single. After the Cardinals retired two straight batters, the Giants’ bats exploded. This included a single by Hunter Pence, an RBI single from Brandon Belt, and a bases clearing triple from Gregor Blanco. Brandon Crawford doubled to score Blanco before the Cardinals could finally get that final third out.

With not much more excitement in game one, except for a small threat by the Giants in the fifth, the Cardinals would win 6-4 and take a 1-0 lead in the series.

The story of game 2 was all Marco Scutaro and Matt Holliday. In the top of the first inning, Holliday slid late in to second base to take out Scutaro, creating fear in the mind of all San Francisco fans. Although Scutaro got up and walked it off, his hip was clearly still bothering him throughout the game.

In the fourth inning, Giants winning 2-1 at this point, Scutaro got his retribution. He poked a single to left field that Holliday misplayed. All three runners on base all scored, with Scutaro ending up at second to give the Giants a 5-1 lead. This would prove to be more than enough, even adding 2 insurance runs in the 8th, as the Giants would win a 7-1 laugher to even the series at 1-1.

Game 3 was all about the Giants leaving runners on base. Kyle Lohse, pitching 5.2 innings, gave up 7 hits and the Giants could only cash one run in. They definitely had their chances leaving 11 runners on base and going 0 for 7 with runners on base.

Matt Cain allowed all three runs, all earned, through his 6.2 innings. The 3 runs would be enough to for the Cardinals, as they beat the Giants 3-1 to take the all important game three and go up 2 games to 1.

The Giants decided to hand the ball to Tim Lincecum in Game 4, a must win game for the Giants. The first inning looked like a continuation of his regular season, allowing 3 hits and a walk, but escaping with only two runs allowed. Pence would answer in the top of the second blasting a home run, and his first RBI of the postseason.

Not much happened until the second half of the fifth when the Cardinals would add 2 more runs. A single by Matt Carpenter, followed by an RBI single from Holliday would add another run. Molina then singled in Holliday to give the Cardinals a 4-1 lead, before Kontos would come in and end the rally.

The Giants had a threat going in the top half of the sixth. After Ryan Theriot got out to start the inning, Angel Pagan and Scutaro had back to back singles for first and second one out.

Buster Posey hit a sac fly to right field to advance Pagan to third and the Giants had first and third, two outs. Pablo Sandoval ended the threat by grounding out to second base and just like that the Giants best chance of the night was ended.

In the bottom of the sixth the Cardinals tact on 2 more runs. With no outs, Adam Wainwright would sac bunt Daniel Descalso to third and Pete Kozma to second with one out. Jon Jay would then double to center to score both runs. Guillermo Mota ended up getting the last two batters to fly out but the damage was done, with the Cardinals now leading 6-1.

The Cardinals would end up holding on to the lead, while holding off one last attempt by the Giants, including a 2-run home run by Pablo Sandoval, to beat the Giants 8-3 making every game an elimination game for the Giants here on in.

The Cardinals are right where they want to be. Up 3-1 and making the Giants win three straight if they want to play in the fall classic. Without Beltran, the Cardinals are really going to have to dig deep if they are going to finish off the Giants, and have a shot at beating the Detroit Tigers in the World Series. If the Cardinals can eliminate the Giants, they have a great chance at winning back-to-back rings.


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