Written by: Sam Soergel
The NLCS began this weekend in St. Louis. The Cardinals and Giants split the first two games and are heading back to San Francisco to pick up action on Tuesday afternoon.
In game one, it was a battle of the aces as Adam Wainwright went up against Madison Bumgarner. The Giants jumped out to an early lead in the second inning on a Travis Ishikawa RBI single. Then, a fielding error by Cardinals third baseman Matt Carpenter gave the Giants a 2-0 lead. The Giants added one more in the third on a Brandon Belt sacrifice fly.
Wainwright was unable to finish the fifth inning. He lasted just 4 2/3 innings with six hits and three runs, two earned. The Cardinals bullpen limited the Giants to two hits for the rest of the game. On the other side, Bumgarner was dominant. He pitched 7 2/3 four-hit shutout innings. The Giants relief pitchers were also able to keep the Cardinals bats quiet, as Sergio Romo and Santiago Casilla pitched 1 1/3 perfect innings.
After being shutout 3-0 on Saturday, the Cardinals’ bats came alive in a postseason classic on Sunday night. Jake Peavy started for the Giants against Lance Lynn for the Cardinals. Peavy lasted only four innings giving up two runs. Lynn went 5 2/3, also giving up two runs.
St. Louis drew first blood when Matt Carpenter homered to right on a 1-1 count in the third. In the fourth, Randal Grichuk scored Matt Adams on a single giving the Cardinals a 2-0 lead.
The Giants cut the lead in half in the fifth when Brandon Belt scored on a Joaquin Arias ground out. Hunter Pence drove Pablo Sandoval to tie the game at two in the sixth. San Francisco took their first lead of the game in the seventh when Gregor Blanco singled in Brandon Crawford, but the Cardinals answered in the bottom of that inning when rookie Oscar Tavares homered to right.
The Cardinals took the lead on another longball in the eighth when Matt Adams drove a pitch deep to right. That lead would be erased in the ninth when closer Trevor Rosenthal gave up two singles. Then, Joe Panik walked, but ball four bounced and got away from backup catcher Tony Cruz. Yadier Molina had left earlier in the game with a strained oblique. That wild pitch proved costly, as Matt Duffy was able to score all the way from second. Rosenthal was replaced by Seth Maness, who got out of the inning for St. Louis.
Sergio Romo came in to pitch the 9th for the Giants, but that didn’t last long because on the second pitch to the first batter he faced, the game ended. Kolton Wong hit his second game winning home run of this postseason to give the Cardinals a 5-4 win in game two, evening the series at one game apiece.
The Cardinals hit four homeruns in game 2. That should come as somewhat of a surprise as they hit the least amount of homers in the National League in the regular season. This win did come with a price, however. Cardinals’ catcher Yadier Molina strained his oblique. Molina is a major part of the Cardinals team, and any significant amount of time missed could have an effect on the outcome of the series.
The series continues in San Francisco on Tuesday afternoon at 4 ET. John Lackey will start for St. Louis and Tim Hudson will start for the Giants.