San Francisco Giants October 2012

You might’ve heard about the San Francisco Giants’ historical comeback. You might have also heard about the St. Louis Cardinals historical comeback in Game 5 of the NLDS against the big, bad Washington Nationals.

But all you need to know is these two clubs don’t go away easily. Giants’ general manager likes to call his team “cockroaches” because they never go away, while the Cardinals, well, they aren’t named after a bug, but let’s call them the comeback kids for the lack of a better phrase.

There’s nothing scientific about it. They both play to the end. The end is the end, but these two teams tend to avoid the end. Down 0-2 heading back to Cincinnati against the Reds, the Giants were counted out by the world, seemingly.

And who in their right mind would say they weren’t done? People aren’t that stupid. Yet, they silenced Reds’ fans for three straight days, and celebrated on their home field.

Then there’s the Cardinals. Adam Wainwright unraveled, and allowed six early runs to put his team in a very deep hole. And what needs to be underscored here, is the fact that they came back against a legitimate Cy Young candidate in Gio Gonzalez.

Nothing fazes them. Even Stephen Strasburg couldn’t have helped… as much as people want to use that excuse.

And now, the two miracle stories clash.

Starting Pitching

Tim Lincecum October 2012

The Giants obvious strength entering the playoffs was their strong starting pitching. Even with Tim Lincecum not being the Tim Lincecum he once was, the Giants boasted a very formidable staff with Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner heading the rotation.

But San Francisco’s plan to stay in games through their pitching has failed miserably. In the first round, Cain gave up six runs in 10.2 innings pitched, Bumgarner allowed four runs in 4.1 innings pitched, and Barry Zito allowed two runs in 2.2 innings pitched.

Ryan Vogelsong was the only one out of the four Giants’ starters to at least have something of a respectable line (5 IP, 1 ER, 3 Walks). Yet, he wasn’t even that good.

Ironically, Tim Lincecum has been their best pitcher so far. Through Game 1 of the NLCS, he has surrendered just one run over 8.1 innings in a relief role. After coming in to pitch two scoreless innings on Sunday night against St.Louis, the possibility of Lincecum pitching Game 4 is likely.

But the point is, if the Giants start pitching like they’re known to pitch, then they might run away with this series. But that is a big “if.”

The Cardinals’ starters on the other hand, have been a bit better with the only exception being Adam Wainwright who posted a 7.88 ERA in two NLDS starts. Kyle Lohse pitched seven innings of one-run ball in his lone NLDS start, and Chris Carpenter shut out the Nationals over 5.2 innings in Game 3.

However, Jamie Garcia injured himself in Game 2 after just two innings. That has cleared the road for 18-game winner Lance Lynn to take his role as the fourth starter. Lynn, though, allowed four runs to the Giants in Game 1 of the NLCS.

St. Louis pitching doesn’t need to be dominant for them to win this series. They showed that their hitting can overpower opposing teams in the NLDS, and that was against one of the best staffs in baseball.


St. Louis Cardinals October 2012

Thus far, both San Francisco’s and St. Louis’s bullpens have been rock solid. And considering how much slack both pens have had to pick up because their starters have failed to pitch deep into games, they’ve been even better.

The Cardinals’ bullpen pitched 4.1 scoreless innings in Game 1, while the Giants’ bullpen pitched 5.1 innings without allowing a single hit.

The Cardinals won the World Series last year because of their solid relief corps, and this year, things are shaping up the same way, ironically.


David Freese October 2012

The Giants are a tale of two entirely different offensive teams. The first team is one that struggles to hit at home, and the second one is a team that pounds home teams when they’re on the road. For an example, just look at what they did the NLDS.

The Cardinals,however, are a bit more consistent. On Sunday night, they proved that AT&T Park’s spacious dimensions aren’t going to permit them from hitting the long ball, as Carlos Beltran and David Freese both went deep in the game.

Plus, the Cardinals have comeback scoring. That’s a true sign of a championship club. They overcame a 6-0 deficit in Game 5 of the NLDS against the Nationals to keep their season alive. St.Louis followed a similar script in 2011 against the Rangers.

Yes, the Cardinals have a better offense. But who knows if the Giants will burst out on the road again. With the teams having split the first two games in San Francisco, they are now off to St. Louis for 3 games. The smart money is on the defending World Series champions. But with that strong Giants pitching staff, the World Series could easily return to San Francisco this season.


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