Thursday, October 16, 2014

BASTA: Resurgent Giants Come From Behind, Take 3-1 Series Lead

((HT: BASTA/Ben Leonard))

Early on, nothing was going the Giants’ way. Ryan Vogelsong was rocked early, giving up four runs in three shaky innings, possibly his last as a Giant. Vogelsong simply could not get ahead of hitters, leaving the Cardinals’ hitters in advantageous counts. While Vogelsong struggled, the Giants’ offense hit starter Shelby Miller hard early, but only got nothing to show for it, with balls hit right at the Cardinals’ defenders. None of that would matter in the end, with the Giants taking a 3-1 series lead with a 6-4 win at AT&T Park.

Vogelsong’s adversity started immdeiatly, when Matt Carpenter led off the game with a hard double that kicked off of Joe Panik’s glove, slowing it down enough for Carpenter to take second. Matt Adams drove him in on a single, giving the Cardinals an early 1-0 lead. Jhonny Peralta bailed out Vogelsong, grounding into a hard double play to third to end the inning. Peralta had another double play in the third, but that one drove in a run, extending the Cardinals’ lead to 3-1. Peralta accounted for four of the nine outs Ryan Vogelsong got, and saved him from disater. After his double play in the third, Kolten Wong launched another home run on a full count, giving St. Louis the 4-1 lead, a shot that would have chased Vogelsong from the game had his spot at the plate not been due up the next inning. Bochy did not want to have Yusmeiro Petit come in for one out and then have to hit or be pinch-hit for. Bochy should have taken him out after the second; usually, if a pitcher has not found his release point by the second, he never will.

Vogelsong left the Giants in a 4-1 hole heading into the bottom of the third. The Giants’ only run up to that point came on a sacrifice fly in the first off Buster Posey’s bat, the star of the game. Despite the three run deficit, there was a feeling in the air that a comeback was inevitable. The Giants’ offense finally got some real results off of the hard-throwing righty, Miller, in the third. Joaquin Arias pinch-hit for Vogelsong, coming through with a single, and eventually was moved to third after a groundout and a flyout. Buster Posey came up, and calmly knocked in Arias, cutting the lead to 4-2. After Pablo Sandoval walked, Hunter Pence also came up clutch with an RBI single to center, scoring Posey and cutting St. Louis’ lead to one run.

Petit’s performance left many observers questioning why Vogelsong ever got the nod in the first place. He kept the ball down, leaving Cardinals’ hitters no chance, as they could only muster one hit in three innings. Petit should get the nod in a potential World Series start (but we’re not there yet) in Vogelsong’s spot. He kept the Giants in the game and gave the club momentum, taking the life out of the Cardinals’ dugout. Petit has not allowed a run in nine innings in the postseason this year.

The star of this series, Buster Posey, and the Giants’ bats came to life in the sixth, taking the lead for good. Posey went two for three with a walk and three RBI’s, coming through when the Giants desperately needed him. Juan Perez came in as a defensive replacement for Travis Ishikawa, and drew a walk from the soft-tossing Marco Gonzales. Perez has really turned it around at the plate after going 0 for his first 9 in the postseason, becoming a key part of the Giants’ last two wins. Brandon Crawford then reached on a hard single to right, and Matt Duffy bunted Crawford and Arias over to second and third.

Gregor Blanco stepped up to the plate with two on and no outs, and hit a grounder to the defensively-challenged Matt Adams, who thought he had a chance to get Perez at home, but was too late, and got no outs. Perez’s run tied the game, and demoralized the Cardinals’ bullpen. Joe Panik followed with another grounder to first, and Matt Adams committed another mental error with runners on first and third. He touched first, and tried to go to second, but the throw was wide and let Blanco reach at second. Crawford scored, but Adams had a very good chance to nail him at the plate. Adams seemed lost mentally and didn’t seem to know the situation; the error on the previous play clearly flustered him. Seth Maness relieved Gonzales, and didn’t do much better; he immediately gave up an RBI single to Posey on a meted 0-2 fastball. It was a magical moment at AT&T Park, with the crowd shouting “Posey, Posey,” willing the slugger to come through.

The Giants’ relievers threw six shutout innings, saving the game. Petit exited after the sixth, and a combination of Jeremy Affeldt, Jean Machi, Javier Lopez. Sergio Romo, and Santiago Casilla locked down the Cardinals’ offense, this time preventing the solo home runs that have killed San Francisco in this series.

With the Cardinals down 3-1 in the series, they will send Adam Wainwright to the hill, who struggled in his last outing against the Giants, going four innings of three-run ball. Ace Madison Bumgarner goes for the Giants, who went seven shutout innings in Game One, giving up only four hits. It does not look good for the Cardinals, who will have to face Madison Bumgarner with a shaky Wainwright and its bullpen in shambles.

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