PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 02: Ryan Theriot #3 of the St. Louis Cardinals slides in to home plate safe to scoring the game tying run in the sixth inning of Game Two of the National League Division Series against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on October 2, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Cards Erase Early Deficit, Beat Cliff Lee To Even Series With Phillies

The Phillies went up 4-0 early, but the Cardinals surged all the way back against Cliff Lee, and the bullpen preserved a 5-4 decision to tie the NLDS at 1 game apiece.

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Philles vs. Cardinals, Game 2: Highlights From Sunday's Live-Blog

The St. Louis Cardinals faced a difficult task on Sunday night, down a game in their NLDS matchup with the Philadelphia Phillies and facing Cliff Lee in Game 2. St. Louis was facing the very real possibility of heading back home down 0-2, but came up big after falling behind early by crawling back to take the second game of the series by a 5-4 margin.

While the Cardinals and Phillies were battling it out on the field, the Baseball Nation staff was hammering away at the live-blog, providing updates and tidbits throughout the game. Below are some of the highlights.

Cliff Lee's night didn't get off to the best start as he gave up a leadoff triple to Rafael Furcal. But this is Cliff Lee we're talking about, and a runner on third with nobody out simply didn't phase him. Lee struck out Allen Craig, induced a pop-out by Albert Pujols and suddenly a runner on third with nobody out became a runner on third with two down. It was all up to Lance Berkman.

It went to waste. Berkman grounded out, Lee worked around the triple, and now the Cardinals have a half-inning they might come to really regret in an hour or two.

After wasting the opportunity, the Cardinals put themselves in an early hole, with Chris Carpenter struggling in the first inning. Carpenter was pitching on short rest, which may not have been the best idea.

After a visit from pitching coach Dave Duncan, Carpenter did escape with Placido Polanco's double-play grounder. But starting on short rest, Carpenter has put his team in a three-run hole against one of the four or five best pitchers on earth.

Hey, it might work!

After St. Louis shot itself in the foot again in the second, Grant Brisbee had a few helpful tips for cracking the Phillies' code.

 

1. Acquire Jose Bautista
2. Hope Cliff Lee gets tired
3. Make sure that Charlie Manuel doesn't pull Lee after he gets tired

Somehow, the Cardinals were able to get to Lee in the fourth, turning a 4-0 deficit into a 4-3 deficit. But still, St. Louis wasn't doing itself any favors, as this handy gif shows.

Chooch_final-new_medium

Probably should've been a tie ballgame.

In the sixth, the Cardinals did manage to tie it up on a Ryan Theriot single that score Jon Jay. After holding the Phillies' offense at bay, St. Louis finally broke through in the seventh, thanks in large part to Allen Craig's triple. This was how close Allen Craig came to not having a triple.

 

Victorinowobble

Pujols singled to drive in Craig and the Cardinals took a 5-4 lead. While it was the slimmest of margins, the St. Louis pitching held, keeping the Phillies off the scoreboard for the rest of the game. Along the way, Chase Utley almost killed a guy. But the Cardinals survived and lived to fight another day, evening the series with a 5-4 win in Philadelphia.

For more from this game, check out the rest of the live-blog and Rob Neyer's recap.

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N.L. Division Series: Cardinals Beat Phillies 5-4, Even Series

Improbably enough, the Cardinals beat Cliff Lee after falling behind 4-0, and nobody deserves more credit than manager Tony La Russa.

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Phillies vs. Cardinals: Tony La Russa In The Zone, Game Proceeds To Ninth

The Cardinals brought a 5-4 lead over the Phillies into the bottom of the eighth. The half-inning featured Marc Rzepczynski, Mitchell Boggs, Arthur Rhodes, and Jason Motte. Four pitchers. And the Phillies didn't score. They only got one guy on base.

Tony La Russa baseball, bitches.

Rzepczynski was pulled after he threw too far inside to Chase Utley and clipped his jersey with a fastball. Boggs came in and got the potential 6-4-3 ground ball he wanted, but Utley broke up the double play with a wicked takeout slide at second.

Utleydp

About what you'd expect from a guy recently voted the second-meanest player in baseball. Behind A.J. Pierzynski. So basically, first-meanest player with a soul.

Up came Ryan Howard, so in came Rhodes, and the ageless Rhodes whiffed Howard on three pitches. That meant Shane Victorino with one on and two out.

And that meant Motte. Motte got ahead of Victorino with two swinging strikes, and Victorino popped the third pitch up to center for the final out.

Off we go to the ninth, and the Cardinals are still clinging to a 5-4 lead. Safe to say nobody figured we'd be here an hour and a half ago.

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Phillies vs. Cardinals: Philadelphia Down To Final Outs

We've already informed you that, in the top of the seventh, Albert Pujols singled home Allen Craig to put the Cardinals in the lead. The good news for the Phillies was that Brad Lidge worked out of a jam to keep the score at 5-4, but the bad news for the Phillies was that the score was 5-4 St. Louis, where earlier it had been 4-0 Philadelphia. Suddenly, the Phillies needed to put together a rally.

And, at least in the bottom of the seventh, they couldn't do it. Against Octavio Dotel and Marc Rzepczynski, the Phillies did get a runner aboard in the person of Jimmy Rollins, but Rzepczynski picked Rollins off first base with Chase Utley at the plate to end the inning.

In the eighth, Antonio Bastardo and Vance Worley came out of the bullpen to keep the Cardinals quiet. So the score hasn't gotten worse. But now the Phillies have but six outs remaining, or else the advantage - or at least the home-field advantage - will shift to St. Louis. All despite Chris Carpenter being bad.

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Phillies vs. Cardinals: St. Louis All the Way Back, Lead 5-4

Two weeks ago, Cliff Lee started against the Washington Nationals and racked up nine strikeouts in seven innings. He also gave up 11 hits, and lost.

Tonight, Cliff Lee started against the St. Louis Cardinals and racked up nine strikeouts in six innings. He also gave up 11 hits, and might well lose.

That game two weeks ago was meaningless; nobody much cared that Lee gave up 11 hits (and three runs) and nobody much cared that the Phillies lost 3-0.

Tonight, they care. Gifted with a 4-0 lead after three innings, Lee and the Phillies had to like their chances. Cliff Lee doesn't often blow four-run leads, St. Louis starter Chris Carpenter was out of the game, and the Phils figured to do some damage against Tony La Russa's bullpen.

Or not.

Lee gave up three runs in the fourth and another in the sixth, while the Cardinals' relievers were shutting down the Phillies. And in the top of the seventh, Allen Craig led off with a drive to deep center that Shane Victorino couldn't quite catch, the ball glancing off his glove for a triple. Albert Pujols followed with a single into left, and Craig trotted home with the lead run.

The Cardinals collected their 11th hit a moment later when Lance Berkman blooped a single into right, Pujols moving to third.

Out came Cliff Lee. In came Brad Lidge, who escaped disaster with a fielder's choice grounder, Pujols nabbed between third and home, and a double-play ball from Ryan Theriot. Still, it's been a shocking turn of events.

Cardinals 5, Phillies 4

By the way, you really have to see Craig's triple to appreciate it ...

Victorinowobble

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Ryan Theriot, Secret Weapon

Managers looooooove head-to-head stats. If a hitter is 4-for-9 against a pitcher in his career, a manager can justify putting that hitter in the lineup the next time they meet. Who's going to question that sort of science? A bunch of nerds yammering about sample size? Pfft. You know what sample sizes old-school managers care about? The ones at Costco, when they give you only one free coconut shrimp and trick you into buying a whole bag. What a bunch of crap.

So when Dick Stockton and Bob Brenly announced that Ryan Theriot was in the game because of his success against Cliff Lee, you were right to guffaw.

PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
Theriot against Cliff Lee 19 16 5 0 0 0 2 3 2 .313 .421 .313 .734
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 10/2/2011.


Sixteen at-bats. And if he gets one fewer hit in those 16 at-bats? He's a career .250 hitter, and he isn't starting tonight.

So, obviously, Theriot is 2-for-3 with two doubles and two runs scored against Cliff Lee tonight. Maybe there's something to this stuff after all. And don't look now, but here's Theriot's career against Cole Hamels:

PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
Theriot against Cole Hamels 22 21 7 2 0 1 2 1 4 .333 .364 .571 .935
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 10/2/2011.


Ryan Theriot, secret weapon.

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Phillies vs. Cardinals: Ryan Theriot, Jon Jay Hurts Cliff Lee Again

In the top of the fourth inning, Ryan Theriot and Jon Jay both came up with run-scoring hits against Cliff Lee, helping turn a 4-0 game into a 4-3 game.

In the top of the sixth inning, they were at it again, and now we're all tied up.

First, the fifth: nothing happened in the fifth. The Cardinals put nobody on base, and didn't score. The Phillies put nobody on base, and didn't score.

Then the sixth rolled along, and Lee got into trouble despite retiring the first two guys he faced. Theriot lined a double into left field when Lee put a low cutter over the center of the plate, and Jay then rolled a grounder into left to bring Theriot all the way around. Raul Ibanez came up throwing and the Cardinals very nearly had their second runner cut down at home in three innings, but Theriot managed to slide in safely to even the score.

Lee worked out of the inning without any more damage, but he and the Phillies have given away a four-run advantage, and the Cardinals have new life. New life and a new pitcher, as Octavio Dotel is taking over for Fernando Salas in the bottom of the sixth. Salas worked a pair of perfect innings in relief of Chris Carpenter, who was bad.

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Tony? Hi. It's Joe Torre...

Chris Carpenter had some problems throwing strikes tonight, and lasted only three innings.

The TBS crew spoke to La Russa after Carpenter's stint, and the St. Louis manager is probably staring at a fine.

Dick Stockton: Tony, the Cardinals back in the game, and with Chris not quite what you anticipated, any more to add on his performance?

TLR: Well, what I would add, which will get you in trouble and I'm going to do it anyway, is they're pitching to two different strike zones. Against a good club, or any club, that's an advantage you don't want to give up.

Bob Brenly: That's very honest on your part, Tony. I can't say I disagree with it, from what we've seen up here on our replays as well...

There are a million ways to parse an umpire's performance behind the plate, but looking at the data -- via BrooksBaseball.net -- doesn't suggest that plate-umpire Jerry Meals is a) having a bad night, or b) missing significantly more calls for one team than the other. Here's the comprehensive chart, from roughly midway through the contest:

Brooksbaseballphilscards_medium

In God We Trust. All others must bring data.

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Jon Jay Eschews Slide, Prefers Manly Out

I hate home-plate collisions.

Hate is a strong word, I know.  But I do hate them, because I don't like seeing baseball players get hurt and it's usually not even a particularly smart play.

Case in point: Jon Jay vs. Carlos Ruiz in the fourth inning of Game 2.

Jay was on second base with two outs. Rafael Furcal lined a single into left field, a one-hopper to Raul Ibanez.

Now, everyone knows that Ibanez doesn't throw particularly well -- okay, he doesn't throw well at all -- and you have to run on him, especially with two outs. But Ibanez returned Furcal's one-hopper with a one-hopper of his own, a nearly perfect throw to Ruiz at the plate.

But again, it did hop. Ibanez's throw hit the ground and bounced up. Ruiz had to get it, and he had to move a little bit to the third-base side of the plate as well. Which left the front of the plate unprotected. All Jay had to do was perform a pretty little hook slide, just like Ty Cobb used to teach the kiddies, and he might well have scored the tying run

Instead, Jay did the manly and stupid thing, trying to plow through Ruiz and (presumably) knock the ball out of his glove.

He didn't. Catchers are tough, and these days they have real big mitts. But at least he was manly. Winning ain't the only thing.

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Phillies vs. Cardinals: St. Louis Makes A Game Of It In Fourth

The story of the first three innings for St. Louis was missed opportunities. In the top of the first, the Cardinals wasted a leadoff triple. In the top of the second, they wasted a leadoff double. In the top of the third, they wasted a two-out walk, which...well it isn't much, but it isn't nothing. And while the Cardinals were busy wasting baserunners, the Phillies were driving a lot of theirs in, and Philadelphia went up 4-0.

But in the top of the fourth, the Cardinals pulled themselves right back into this game. Lance Berkman led off with a walk, and two batters later, Yadier Molina hit a sharp grounder up the middle just too far away for a diving Jimmy Rollins to handle. That gave the Cardinals a run-scoring situation, and for the first time, they took advantage, as Ryan Theriot laced a double just inside the right field line to make it 4-1.

And they weren't finished. Two pitches later, Jon Jay yanked a grounder into right field to score a second run, and Jay scampered all the way to second on the play.

Up came Nick Punto to pinch-hit for an ineffective Chris Carpenter, and it looked like Lee would stop the bleeding there when he struck out Punto swinging. But with two outs, Rafael Furcal laced a single into left, plating the Cardinals' third run of the inning.

The good news for the Phillies? Furcal's single scored Theriot, but it didn't score Jay, who was thrown out at the plate by Raul Ibanez. Carlos Ruiz absorbed a wicked collision but managed to hold on to the ball for the final out.

So I suppose one could argue that was another missed opportunity for St. Louis. But in any case, it's 4-3 now, and Lee has looked hittable. This game isn't over by a long shot - and as I typed this, Fernando Salas set the Phillies down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the fourth after taking over for Carpenter.

Carpenter's final line:

3 innings, 5 hits, 4 runs, 3 walks, 2 strikeouts

There will be talk.

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This Is What A Cliff Lee Walk Looks Like

Leebb_medium

That picture says more about Cliff Lee than you might realize.

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Straws For Cardinals Fans

Is it possible for Cliff Lee to blow a substantial lead? Sure. He's over 30% human after all. On July 3rd this year, the Phillies scored four runs in the second inning of a start against the Blue Jays. The Blue Jays came back, scoring single runs in the third, fifth, and sixth innings, and exploding for four runs off Lee in the eighth. So the Cardinals should follow this foolproof plan if they want to win this game:

1. Acquire Jose Bautista
2. Hope Cliff Lee gets tired
3. Make sure that Charlie Manuel doesn't pull Lee after he gets tired

Chris Carpenter pitching better would go a long ways, too.

So buck up, Cardinals fans! It can happen. Just, uh, don't expect it.

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The Cardinals Aren't Doing Themselves Any Favors

It's the second inning right now, and the Phillies are already ahead of the Cardinals 3-0. That score, despite these events:

R Furcal triples on a fly ball to center field

D Freese doubles on a line drive to right field

Those hits led off the first and second innings for St. Louis, respectively. And still, they haven't scored against Cliff Lee.

What would we expect them to score? We can consult this handy run expectancy matrix. Having a runner on third and nobody out leads to an average of 1.3 runs. Having a runner on second and nobody out leads to an average of 1.1 runs.

Those numbers, of course, are averages, and do not apply when facing a pitcher like Cliff Lee. Still, here's the take-home message: the Cardinals should have at least one or two runs, but instead they have no runs, and so they're already facing long odds. You can't just give away run-scoring opportunities against Lee, because he doesn't provide them very often.

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Phillies vs. Cardinals: Chris Carpenter Touched For Three Early Runs

Before Sunday night, Chris Carpenter had started 338 Major League Baseball games that counted: 329 during the regular season, and nine during the postseason tournament.

Out of those 338 starts, how many came after less than four days of rest?

None of them.

This is notable for a couple of reasons:

1. Generally speaking, modern pitchers fare poorly on short rest.
As Jayson Stark points out, since 2005 there have been 21 postseason starts on short rest, and the starters have combined for an ugly 5.83 ERA. Which is even uglier when you consider that most of those pitchers were asked to start on short rest because they were considered among the best pitchers in their teams' rotations.

2. Chris Carpenter, working on short rest Sunday night in Game 2, has gotten hammered.
Jimmy Rollins led off the bottom of the first inning, and doubled. Carpenter walked Chase Utley. Carpenter walked Hunter Pence. Ryan Howard shot a laser up the middle that glanced off Carpenter's leg and into center field for a two-run single. Carpenter retired Shane Victorino on a fly ball, but Raul Ibanez lined a single into left field, plating another run.

After a visit from pitching coach Dave Duncan, Carpenter did escape with Placido Polanco's double-play grounder. But starting on short rest, Carpenter has put his team in a three-run hole against one of the four or five best pitchers on earth.

Hey, it might work!

Phillies 3, Cardinals 0

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Phillies vs. Cardinals: Cliff Lee Works Out Of Early Jam

One pitch. It took all of one pitch for the St. Louis Cardinals to get a runner to third base against Cliff Lee, as Rafael Furcal led off Game 2 of the NLDS with a first-pitch triple off the right-center fence. The ball bounded away from Hunter Pence and Shane Victorino, and Furcal made it to third easily.

So all the Cardinals needed to do was advance Furcal another 90 feet and they could take an early lead on the road. Simple, right?

Not so much. Because, you know, Cliff Lee.

Allen Craig - playing for the injured Matt Holliday - struck out on four pitches, the last being a high-inside fastball that tied him up. That brought Albert Pujols to the plate, and there's no one the Cardinals would've rather had standing in, but Pujols popped the first pitch up to second base. Suddenly it was all up to Lance Berkman to make sure the opportunity didn't go to waste.

It went to waste. Berkman grounded out, Lee worked around the triple, and now the Cardinals have a half-inning they might come to really regret in an hour or two.

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Phillies Post Game 2 Lineup vs. Cardinals

Since Hunter Pence was acquired by the Phillies at the trading deadline, he has batted third, fourth and fifth in Philadelphia’s power-laden lineup. Manager Charlie Manuel appears to have settled on Pence in the No. 3 spot; tonight’s lineup against the Cardinals’ Chris Carpenter is identical to the lineup that pounded St. Louis pitching in Game 1:

1. Jimmy Rollins SS
2. Chase Utley 2B
3. Hunter Pence RF
4. Ryan Howard 1B
5. Shane Victorino CF
6. Raul Ibanez LF
7. Placido Polanco 3B
8. Carlos Ruiz C
9. Cliff Lee P

Carpenter is going on short rest, having thrown a two-hit shutout on the last day of the regular season on Wednesday against the Astros to help propel the Cardinals into the playoffs. This game could turn into a pitcher’s duel; Carpenter faced the Phillies twice during the regular season and defeated them twice, allowing just one run in 15 innings, issuing just two walks and striking out 12.

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Cardinals Post Game 2 Lineup vs. Phillies

Though Game 2 between the Phillies and Cardinals in Philadelphia doesn’t get underway for a few hours, Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa has posted his lineup against Cliff Lee:

1. Rafael Furcal SS
2. Allen Craig RF
3. Albert Pujols 1B
4. Lance Berkman LF
5. David Freese 3B
6. Yadier Molina C
7. Jon Jay CF
8. Ryan Theriot 2B
9. Chris Carpenter P

It’s an all right-handed (or switch-hitting) lineup except for center fielder Jon Jay, who has actually been moved up in the lineup from hitting eighth on Saturday. Skip Schumaker, who played second base on Saturday, will sit today.

It’s going to be tough regardless; Lee threw six shutouts during the regular season. One of them was this 4-0 blanking of the Cardinals in St. Louis on June 22; Lee allowed just six hits and a walk, striking out three. Albert Pujols was on the DL at the time; some of the names in that boxscore aren’t very recognizable.

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Cardinals vs. Phillies, NLDS Game 2 Preview: Time, TV Schedule, Starting Pitchers And More

The Cardinals will try to even their NLDS series with the Phillies, thowing Chris Carpenter on short rest against Cliff Lee in Philadelphia

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