The St Louis Cardinals beat the San Francisco Giants 3-1 in game three of the NL Championship Series, taking a 2-1 lead in the series.
This game can be summed up by two things: missed opportunities, and rain. With two outs in the bottom of the seventh innings, the tarps went on the field, and they stayed there for three hours and 28 minutes. In contrast, the entire game (minus the delay) took just three hours and two minutes. So essentially, if you stayed for the entire game, you spent more time staring at a tarp than at players on the field.
Now, the blown opportunities part of the game. The Giants should have scored more than one run. The team went 0/7 with runners in scoring position, grounded into two double plays, and quite frankly, blew all but one chance they had of scoring runs in this game. Kyle Lohse walked five hitters and allowed seven hits over 5 2/3 innings, and San Francisco got just one run, courtesy of a Pablo Sandoval groundout in the third. But in that inning, the Giants had men on second and third with none out, and on the corners with one out, and came away with just the one run. That just can't happen in any game, especially a playoff game.
To be fair to the Cardinals, they took advantages of opportunities when presented with them (although there weren't many at all). The team went only 2/4 with runners in scoring position, but one of those runs was a two-run homer by Matt Carpenter in the third that put St Louis on top 2-1. Carpenter wasn't even in the starting lineup, being inserted into the game in the top of the second inning after a knee injury to Carlos Beltran, which was reportedly not serious and will allow Beltran to probably play in Thursday's game four.
Matt Cain pitched fine for the Giants, actually earning a higher game score than Lohse. But his team's lack of offense sent Cain to another hard-luck loss in these playoffs. Cain has allowed three runs in all three of his playoff starts this year, and gotten more than two runs of support in just one of those starts. Sometimes, you just can't blame the starter despite getting a loss hung on his record.
Game four will be on Thursday, and first pitch is scheduled for 8:00. It's probably the most crucial game in the series in my mind solely based on the pitching matchup: Tim Lincecum will start for the Giants and take on Adam Wainwright of the Cardinals. By using Lincecum in game four, and Barry Zito in game five, Bruce Bochy is gambling that Zito won't get rocked and there won't be a need for a long relief outing from Lincecum. Similarly, if Lincecum gets hammered, there really is no safety net with game two starter Madison Bumgarner ruled out of another start and potentially unavailable until Zito's start in game five. And remember: Bumgarner's playoffs haven't exactly been stellar thusfar.
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