If You’re Going to San Francisco
After a dominant performance in a one game Wild Card series in Pittsburgh, the San Francisco Giants seemed to have found their every-other-year postseason stride. The NL West runners up have looked nearly flawless through three postseason victories. In fact, a Game 2 victory in Washington early Sunday morning marked the Giants tenth consecutive NL postseason win, in very dramatic fashion to boot – an 18-inning marathon that lasted just shy of six and a half hours – a new MLB Postseason record. The Giants took a commanding 2-0 series lead off of a Brandon Belt home run, which came in the top half of the 18th inning. Belt, who had gone 0-6 on the evening, swatted a 3-2 fastball in to the upper deck of Nationals Park to put the Giants up 2-1, their first lead in the ball game, which they would not surrender.
Despite outstanding pitching from starter Jordan Zimmerman, the Nats bullpen couldn’t seal a 1-0 lead late in the ninth inning. Zimmerman had pitched 82/3 scoreless innings, which included six strikeouts, three hits, and a walk. The lone surrendered walk came in the ninth inning to San Francisco’s Joe Panik, which marked the end of the night for Zimmerman as manager Matt Williams called on staunch reliever Drew Storen to close out the inning, ending the Zimmerman’s chance for a complete game shutout bid. Giants catcher Buster Posey slapped Storen’s first pitch into the outfield for a single, which placed second baseman Joe Panik into scoring position at second base. With two runners on, Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval sliced a double into opposite field down the left field line to score Panik and tie the game at one. Posey was gunned down at the plate on the same play. Sandoval’s clutch double proved to be the only offensive production for essentially another game until Belt’s blast in the top of the 18th.
The Nationals scored their lone run of the game off of a single from Anthony Rendon, which scored Asdrubal Cabrera in the 3rd inning. Cabrera provided Washington fans with some extra innings drama when he vehemently showcased his disapproval for home plate umpire’s Vic Carapazza’s strike zone, which included two called strikes Cabrera believed to be well high of the zone. Both Cabrera and manager Matt Williams were ejected in the 10th inning. All strike zones considered, the Nationals have only produced three runs on 14 hits throughout the first two games – not nearly enough offense to quell a well-oiled Giants playoff machine. Also, with Giants ace Madison Bumgarner scheduled to take the hill at AT&T Park for Game 3, the offensive woes may very well continue on Monday when Doug Fister and the Nationals fight for their playoff lives in the City by the Bay.
Is This Your Card?
Pick a Card, any Card, and he’ll be sure to contribute for St. Louis in the playoffs. Currently, that lucky Card is Matt Carpenter, who has homered twice at Dodger Stadium to kick off arguably the most competitive and overlooked playoff series so far this postseason. Carpenter’s first knock came in the 6th inning in Game 1 off of Dodger ace, Cy Young and NL MVP candidate Clayton Kershaw, which cut LA’s lead to four. St. Louis mounted a late inning comeback and chased Kershaw with an eight-run seventh inning capitalized by a Matt Holiday home run off of Dodgers rookie reliever, Pedro Baez. Despite some LA retaliation, the Cardinals bullpen prevailed and stole an unlikely 10-9 victory from Kershaw and the Dodgers Friday night and secured a 1-0 series lead.
However, the Dodgers attempted to make 2014 Postseason history in attempt to tie a series at one game piece late Saturday night. Los Angeles catcher AJ Ellis scored on a fielder’s choice from Dee Gordon in the bottom of the third, which also moved starting pitcher Zack Greinke to second base. First baseman Adrian Gonzalez singled to shallow right to score Greinke and build a 2-0 Dodgers lead. The third inning proved to be St. Louis start Lance Lynn’s only blunder in six inning outing, which surrendered seven hits and two walks and eight strike outs on 114 pitches. Meanwhile, Dodgers pitcher Zack Greinke pitched seven scoreless innings, struck out seven Cardinals, and only surrendered two hits and two walks.
The Cardinals finally answered in top of the eighth inning when third baseman Matt Carpenter hammered a two run home run off of Dodgers reliever J.P. Howell to tie the game at 2. With no room for error, the Cardinals turned to their bullpen and called upon pitcher Pat Neshek in the eighth. Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp drove a 2-1 Neshek pitch into the LA faithful in left field as Dodger Stadium and J.P. Howell alike rejoiced a 3-2 Dodgers lead. Pitcher Kenley Jansen preserved the lead in the 9th and closed out a Dodgers victory, which tied the series 1-1.
Both teams will head back to St. Louis where the series will resume on Monday for a pivotal Game 3 at Busch Stadium. John Lackey is scheduled to start for the Cardinals against Hyun-jin Ryu and the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Written by: Joe Rokicki