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Matt Cain had given San Francisco a strong start, firing 6⅔ innings of three-run ball, but the Giants' bats looked as washed out as Busch Stadium's muddy warning track.
San Francisco couldn't even take advantage of St. Louis' greatest offensive threat, Carlos Beltran, leaving the game in the second inning. Instead, Beltran's replacement, Matt Carpenter, smacked a hanging slider over the center-field wall for a two-run homer in the third inning. Cain gave up his third run in the seventh, just before the rain set in, but he held Matt Holliday and Allen Craig hitless, shutting down St. Louis' third- and fourth-place hitters.
This loss was on the Giants' hitters, and Grant Brisbee knows exactly who to blame:
But, yes, everything was Hunter Pence's fault in Game 3, and he's the worst hitter we've had to watch since Aaron Rowand played his way off the roster. The bloom is off the Hunter Pence rose, which is absolutely the strangest rose you've every seen. I think it had lips and long arms, and it twitched a lot, at least as far as roses go.
Pence was hitless in four plate appearances and left five men on base, showing zero plate discipline and flailing at pitches he had no chance of touching. The outfielder is hitting just .185/.214/.185 in the playoffs, yet manager Bruce Bochy penciled him in to hit behind Buster Posey. Adam Wainwright is scheduled to start for St. Louis in Game 4.
Read Brisbee's full Game 3 reaction at McCovey Chronicles.
Thanks a long rain delay, it took a long time for the Cardinals to beat the Giants in Game 3 of the NLCS, but they finally completed their 3-1 victory. Fill-in Matt Carpenter hit a big home run, and Jason Motte pitched two perfect innings for the save.
The good news for the Giants is that they didn't strand any runners in the top of the eighth inning. They've had a problem with that throughout the game, leaving 11 runners on base, and going 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position.
The bad news is that they couldn't strand what they didn't have, and Jason Motte shut the Giants down in order in the inning, retiring Gregor Blanco, Brandon Crawford, and pinch-hitter Aubrey Huff on three consecutive shallow fly balls. Motte is on leg one of the rare and elusive two-inning save, but he threw only nine pitches in the effort.
In the top of the ninth, the Giants will have Angel Pagan, Marco Scutaro, and Pablo Sandoval up to face Motte again.
After a rain delay that lasted exactly three hours and 28 minutes, perhaps a Game 3 reset is in order?
In the third, St. Louis grabbed a 2-1 lead on Matt Carpenter's home run, and that's where the score remained until bottom of the seventh. With Giants starter Matt Cain on the mound, Shane Robinson grounded out with the bases loaded, pushing the Cards' lead to 3-1. With two outs, Bruce Bochy pulled Cain in favor of lefty Javier Lopez ... but before Lopez could throw a pitch, the umpires finally halted play.
Upon resumption, Lopez returned to the mound and ultimately retired Jon Jay on a grounder to first base, thus keeping the Giants within striking distance.
So after all that, it's Cardinals 3, Giants 1 in the top of the eighth inning. Surprisingly, it looks Cardinals closer Jason Motte will be asked to pitch two full innings and save this game.
Forgot to get this in before the rains: The Cardinals are up, 3-1, after an RBI groundout from Shane Robinson in the bottom of the seventh. The inning started with a one-out double from David Freese, and after a bizarre intentional walk to Daniel Descalso, Matt Cain decided to throw a fastball down the middle of the plate to Pete Kozma, who singled to load the bases. Robinson grounded out, and then the rains came.
So much rain.
Matt Cain was already going to leave the game, even before the long delay, and when the game resumes, the Cardinals will have a 3-1 lead with runners on second and third with two outs.
The Giants might lose Game 3, once Busch Stadium is rebuilt after the tornado destroys it.
But if nothing else, Giants fans should take some solace in Matt Cain's outing. After a couple of shaky performances in the club's Division Series against the Reds, Cain has given up only two runs in six innings, and finished the sixth with his first two strikeouts of the game. No, we still haven't seen vintage Matt Cain this month. But at least there doesn't seem to be anything fundamentally wrong with him.
In the sixth, top of the sixth, Cardinals starter Kyle Lohse got the Cardinals into a two-out jam -- thanks to Cain's base hit -- but reliever Trevor Rosenthal got them out of it. Edward Mujica took over in the seventh, and he got into a bigger jam.
Marco Scutaro led off the frame and shot a low liner toward the mound, where Mujica got some leather on it; the ball caromed to second baseman Daniel Descalso, who had plenty of time to throw out Scutaro. That reprieve didn't help Mujica much. Pablo Sandoval ripped a line drive over left fielder Matt Holliday, the ball hit so hard that Panda stopped at first base with a really long single. Buster Posey drove a single into left field, with Sandoval holding at second, and Mujica was finished.
Mike Matheny summoned hard-throwing right-hander Mitchell Boggs from the bullpen. He made Hunter Pence look silly, striking him out with a slider. And then he struck out Brandon Belt with a back-door slider, looking, that just caught the outside corner. Great outing for Boggs, and Matheny's looking brilliant.
We're in the seventh-inning stretch, and the score is still Cardinals 2, Giants 1.
The Giants have 12 runners through the first six innings. That's an average of -- hold on, let me get the slide rule out, and ... -- two runners every inning. They have just one run. It has been a frustrating game for the Giants.
And it's not like the runners have been bunched together with a bunch of weirdness mixed in, like triple plays or runners thrown out at the plate. Nope, it's been nice and even, with the Giants leaving two runners on base in three of their six innings, and a double play to end another one. The Giants have left nine on base, hit into two double plays, and are 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position.
Kyle Lohse is the pitcher who allowed the 12 runners, and he left the game after 5⅔ innings, allowing just a run. Trevor Rosenthal relieved him with two runners on, getting Angel Pagan to ground out to end the inning.
For the starting pitchers in Game 3, it's been ... well, it's been odd.
Kyle Lohse gave up only 37 unintentional walks all season, and then one in each of his postseason starts. But he's walked four Giants unintentionally in the first five innings of Game 3 ... and given up just one run, thanks in part to a couple of routine double plays.
Matt Cain struck out eight hitters every nine innings during the regular season, and in Game 3 he's struck out exactly zero St. Louis Cardinals. Still, he'd just struck out Jon Jay in the third inning, or Matt Carpenter, Cain might still be working with a 1-0 lead. Instead Jay singled and Carpenter -- in the game only because of Carlos Beltran's trick knee -- hit a two-run homer to get the Cardinals on the board.
Which, in a nutshell, is how we're on to the sixth inning in a nail-biter: Cardinals 2, Giants 1 ... and thunderstorms making their steady way toward Busch Stadium.
The Giants have been making Kyle Lohse work in Game 33 -- they've worked out four walks in the first four innings, and they've forced him to throw 80 pitches. It doesn't make a difference if they don't do anything with the runners, though, and for the fourth consecutive inning, the Giants left runners on base. They've left six on base so far.
With one out and a runner at third, manager Bruce Bochy elected to have pitcher Matt Cain bunt. After a few aborted attempts, Cain moved the runner to second, leaving it up to Angel Pagan, who flew out to center.
The Giants had one of the worst averages in baseball with runners in scoring position during the first half of the season, but they had one of the best in the second half. In Game 3, they're 0-for-4 so far.
See. Told you Matt Carpenter could hit some.
Carpenter -- who hadn't started a game in the postseason, and entered Game 3 only because Carlos Beltran tweaked his knee in the bottom of the first -- came up with two outs and a runner aboard in the bottom of the third, his proud parents in the stands, and did this:
As Twitter so helpfully explained when Carpenter first came into the game, he owns a 1.000 batting average against Giants starter Matt Cain: 4 at-bats, 4 hits. Now he's 5 for 5.
But a better explanation for Carpenter's home run: He's a really good hitter. As a part-timer for the Cardinals this season, Carpenter slugged .463 and he's done some impressive things in the minors.
Also, that's the fourth home run Cain has allowed in three postseason starts. So who knows, maybe Beltrán would have done the same thing.*
* probably not
Kyle Lohse, given his first lead of the game,
When a team faces a pitcher like Kyle Lohse, they know they're going to put the ball in play. Sometimes that's a bad thing -- balls pounded into the ground or, even worse, lined directly at opposing fielders.
Sometimes, though, it's a good thing, even if the balls put in play aren't hit especially hard. The Giants took the first lead of Game 3 on a pair of bloops and an out in the third inning. Angel Pagan led the frame off with a looping single to left-center, and Marco Scutaro followed with a soft liner just over the leaping Allen Craig down the first base line for a double.
Pablo Sandoval followed with an RBI groundout that also moved Scutaro to third with one out. But after Lohse fell behind Buster Posey trying to paint the corners, Posey was intentionally walked. That brought up motivational speaker Hunter Pence, who grounded into a double play, but really made you think positive thoughts as he did it.
The Cardinals trail the Giants 1-0 heading into the bottom of the third.
Well, there goes the no-hitter.
Hey, it's early and nobody's doing much. We gotta write about something.
With one out in the bottom of the second, Yadier Molina stroked a clean single, the Cardinals' first hit against Matt Cain in Game 3. But David Freese lifted an easy fly to right, Brandon Crawford a routine pop to shortstop.
With the exception of Carlos Beltrán exiting Game 3 with a knee injury, there just hasn't been much to write about yet.
That will change, though. It always does.
Carlos Beltran has morphed into his supernova-robotic-half-god form, as he's wont to do when it's time for the playoffs, but there's a catch: He's still in his semi-brittle Carlos Beltran human form. After just an inning of Game 3 in the NLCS, Beltran had to leave the game because of an (as yet) undisclosed injury.
Beltran has been dealing with an injury to his left hand, and after Game 2, he was seen wearing a wrap. There was nothing to worry about according to Beltran himself:
My hand feels super good. nothing to worry— Carlos Beltran (@carlosbeltran15) October 16, 2012
Beltran has had issues with his knees over the years, and he underwent surgery on his right knee in 2010, but he didn't appear to have any issues running down to first:
Matt Carpenter came into the game to play right field and bat second in the order. Through an inning-and-a-half, the game is scoreless.
Edit: It's the left knee -- Beltran is day-to-day with a strain
Lohse, who went 16-3 during the regular season and has pitched well in both of his postseason starts, gave up a single to Pablo Sandoval in the top of the first, but otherwise had little trouble with the top of the Giants' order.
Cain, who gave up three homers to the Reds in their Division Series, plunked leadoff man Jon Jay in the bottom of the first, but Jay was erased when Carlos Beltran grounded into a double play and Matt Holliday -- no vengeance yet! -- grounded to second base.
So after one inning in cloudy St. Louis, Game 3 of the National League Championship Series remains scoreless. There is news, though! Beltrán is out of the game because of an injury, with Matt Carpenter taking over in right field. It's a tough break for the Cardinals, but at least Carpenter can hit some.
Game 3 of the NLCS is set to begin in St. Louis at 3 p.m. CT Wednesday afternoon.
That's a simple declarative statement. Here's a statement that's a bit more ominous: That's just about the time thunderstorms could roll through the St. Louis area:
This Afternoon: Occasional showers and thunderstorms. High near 72. South wind 13 to 15 mph, with gusts as high as 22 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%.
The "occasional" part is the worst news, because that means possible delays, with dry hours in between. But Major League Baseball isn't going to want to start a game, then have it delayed or possibly suspended, and force the teams to lose the services of Kyle Lohse and Matt Cain for Game 3.
At 12:45 p.m. CT, the St. Louis-area radar looked like this:
That's not encouraging, especially if the storms are moving southward. There are more to the west, just out of the range of this picture. Don't be surprised if this afternoon's game begins under a rain delay.
The St. Louis Cardinals have had success in this year's postseason with the lineup below, so manager Mike Matheny is going with it again for Wednesday's Game 3 (* indicates lefthanded hitter, # indicates switch-hitter):
Giants starter Matt Cain has also had a good year, but in facing the Cardinals twice this season, he's had a rough go. In fact, his performance against St. Louis was his worst against any team he faced in 2012: a 6.94 ERA and 1.629 WHIP, although the Giants did win one of the two games. He's allowed home runs this year to Holliday and Beltran and overall, current Cardinals have hit five home runs off him (three by Holliday). Overall, players on St. Louis' postseason roster are hitting .272 (37-for-136) against Cain.
Cardinals outfielder Matt Holliday took Giants second baseman Marco Scutaro out with a rough slide in Monday's NLCS Game 2. Scutaro eventually had to leave the game with an apparent hip injury. That hasn't stopped him, though; Scutaro is back in manager Bruce Bochy's lineup for Game 3 (* indicates lefthanded hitter, # indicates switch-hitter):
This lineup will be facing Cardinals righthander Kyle Lohse. Lohse had an excellent season, posting a 2.86 ERA and issuing just 38 walks in 211 innings, but did not face the Giants all year. He's coming off a start in the division series against the Reds in which he allowed just one run in seven innings; however, players on San Francisco's postseason roster are hitting .311 (43-for-138) off Lohse. Ryan Theriot -- who isn't starting -- is a particular Lohse nemesis, going 12-for-22 (.545) with two doubles and two triples.
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