Cardinals shake up the Giants in Game 1
St. Louis Cardinals' Carlos Beltran (3) watches his fourth inning two-run home run along with home plate umpire Chris Guccione (R), San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey and starting pitcher Shelby Miller (L) during Game 1 of their MLB NLCS playoff baseball series in San Francisco, October 14, 2012. (REUTERS/Danny Moloshok)
Not a particularly sunny day for the hometown heroes.
Prior to the start of the opening game of the NLCS, the news out of Candlestick Park was grim as the New York Giants pummeled the 49ers 26-3.
The results for Frisco fans wasn’t much better at AT&T Park.
Thanks to a second miserable post-season start by Madison Bumgarner, the St. Louis Cardinals picked up where they left off in Washington, hammering everything that came their way.
The Cards wracked the ‘Bum’ for six runs over the opening 3 2/3 innings and held on to post a 6-4 victory over the San Francisco Giants to draw first blood in Game 1 of the NLCS.
It marked the third consecutive loss for the Giants at home this post-season.
In the Division Series, the Giants lost 5-2 and 9-0 against the Cincinnati Reds at AT&T before staging their miracle comeback on the road by winning the final three games.
Maybe that’s their plan for the NLCS. Why deviate from a winning formula?
However, the Giants are now swimming upstream, going against the grain of history.
History has shown that the winner of the opener in the NLCS has moved on to the World Series in 16 of the past 20 campaigns.
But then, no team in the NL had dropped its first two in Division play and won three in a row on the road.
The momentum that the Cards built in their comeback victory over Washington seemed to carry over.
“Obviously momentum’s a big deal in this game and I think it helped us a little bit,” Cards first baseman Allen Craig said. “Our motto all year has been take it one game at a time and focus on the task at hand. Today was a new day. We weren’t in Washington, we’re in San Francisco playing the Giants and there are new challenges ahead but we did a good job today.
“You’re going to have to win on the road if you want to move on so today was definitely a good step,”
Losing the first one is no reason for Giants’ fans to be overly dismayed.
Not unless they plan to give Bumgarner another start.
“We had our guy out there and he just didn’t have his good stuff and made a couple of mistakes,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “The guys did a great job of battling back. A break here or there.
“(Angel) Pagan’s ball up the middle, they made a great play on.”
Bochy was referring to the play made by Cards second baseman Daniel Descalso that put the breaks on the Giants four-run comeback in the fourth.
With runners on first and second and four runs across, Pagan hit a grounder that was destined for centre to keep their rally going.
Descalso, though. made a leaping, stretching snare to his right and from his knees flipped to shortstop Pete Kozma for the force at second.
It was a momentum killer.
“It was huge. It stopped the momentum right there,” Craig said. “They were scoring some runs and getting some hits and it looked like that would be another one. But Daniel just did what he does, made a good play, and shut it down there.”
Bumgarner has faced the Cardinals three times this season and has lost all three.
This day he gave up two runs in the second and never made it through the fourth.
With one out in the fourth, the Descalso doubled to right and he was plated by a double down the third-base line by Pete Kozma.
After Lynn struck out for the second out, Jon Jay singled Kozma home and Carlos Beltran ended Bumgarner’s night with a long home run into the seats in left.
Suddenly it was a 6-0 St. Louis lead.
After Bumgarner left, so too did the Cards offence as they went hitless the final five frames.
Lynn, meanwhile, didn’t fare much better than Bumgarner.
Facing a 6-0 deficit and without a hit as they came to bat in the fourth, the Giants mounted a furious charge.
Marco Scutaro started it off with a single to left and that’s where it appeared to end as Lynn retired the next two hitters.
He wouldn’t get another out.
Hunter Pence singled to put runners on the corners and Brandon Belt drove in their first run with a single to centre.
The Giants were just getting started.
George Blanco sent the fans into a frenzy with a triple up the gap in right-centre that made it 6-3 and Brandon Crawford followed with a RBI double into the right-field corner for their fourth run.
One walk later, Lynn was done and replaced by Joe Kelly, who got the third out thanks to the great play by Descalso.
After that, the Giants never got a sniff as they were shut down by the St. Louis bullpen.