The Giants won Game 4 of the National League Championship Series, 6-4, Wednesday, taking a commanding 3-1 series lead, and getting one step closer to the National League pennant. They'll host the Cardinals tomorrow night in San Francisco, looking to close out the series with Madison Bumgarner on the hill.
St. Louis will look to become the 12th team to come back from a 3-1 deficit in the NLCS, with the last team do so being the Giants against ... the Cardinals, in 2012.
Ryan Vogelsong wasn't able to work his October magic, but Yusmeiro Petit continued his sorcery unmolested, picking up a win along the way. The Cardinals bats came alive early, with Kolten Wong hitting a double and a home run, and St. Louis had a 4-1 lead. The Giants did what they do best, though, scoring runs without getting hits, putting together three runs on a fielders choice, a ground out, and finally, a single.
Here are some other things we learned along the way:
It's less how much you hit, and more when you hit
After that 1st inning, Cardinals' RH batters are 7 for 48 in series (.146) ...— Bernie Miklasz (@miklasz) October 16, 2014
The Cardinals were the lowest scoring team, by far, to make the postseason. They ranked 23rd in the majors in runs scored. The Royals were the second-worst postseason team, and they were 12th. Right-handers have particularly vexed them in the postseason, as their heroics have come from lefties Carpenter, Wong, and Adams, but their struggles against righties are symptomatic of a larger issue.
Timing is everything, of course. If you can string your hits together as the Cardinals did early on in Game 4, how many you get begins to matter less. Especially when they're extra-base hits. St. Louis has 25 extra-base hits compared to 37 singles so far this postseason. It also helps when Jon Jay is inexplicably going 12-25. He was never as bad as he was last year, but a ~.500 hitter he is not.
Short series can hide a lot of flaws, because variance will ultimately win the day. The more games they play, though, the more likely we are to see their weaknesses exposed. Especially if the opposing team has strong lefties to turn to in the bullpen. Then again, #CardinalsDevilMagic is alive and well, so who knows?
Career postseason numbers aren't predictive
Look. We all want there to be a flip that switches in the playoffs. We want seemingly pedestrian players to turn figure out this infernal game, if but for a month every year. The reality is that it doesn't work that way, as Vogelsong and his 1.19 ERA entering Game 4 found out. Vogelsong had thrown 30⅓ postseason innings in his career prior to Game 4, striking out 25 and walking 12 in that span. He was 3-0, and his team had never lost on a game he started.
NLCS Game 4
Giants win ugly, the only way they know how
It wasn't pretty for San Francisco, but it was a win, leaving the Giants one victory away from a third World Series in five years.
NLCS Game 4
On Wednesday night, he lasted three innings, allowing four runs on seven hits, walking two and striking out only one. He allowed the first home run of his postseason career to Wong. One one hand, we can say "he's better than this in October, and he should return to being that guy in his next start (if he gets a next start)." On the other hand, it's far more likely that Vogelsong doesn't possess some magic juju that makes him a better pitcher come October than he is the rest of his career.
Postseason heroes who come out of nowhere are fantastic, and should be celebrated as much, if not more, as anyone. Predictive though, they are not.
Yusmeiro Petit is unfathomable
He tops out at 90 MPH, and his ability to succeed makes about as much sense as the commercials for The Judge. He survives on command, but what does he thrive on? Who the heck knows? Petit followed his six-inning shutout performance of the Nationals in Game 2 of the NLDS with three more tonight. He's logged 73 strikeouts against six unintentional walks in 58 innings, facing 212 batters.
The weirdest thing of all is that Petit never walks anyone, and A.J. Pierzynski almost never walks. The one free pass issued by Petit tonight? You guessed it.
Hits? Hits are for suckers
The thing about baseball is that the season is so long, and has so many games that it kind of, sort of starts to make sense at some point. There are enough iterations that we are able to at least start to make statements about who is good at certain things, and who is not.
The thing about the postseason is that it's an unpredictable mess, and that's how you end up with this:
This is unreal. That makes 9 R #SFGiants scored in last 5 games on zero hits: 2 on E's by pitchers, 4 on IF outs, 1 on BB, 1 on SF, 1 on WP!— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) October 16, 2014
Here's how the Royals scored all of their runs:
- Infield grounder
- Fielder's choice
- Catcher error (ball kicked out of mitt)
Well. I don't know how to make sense of tha --
Moneyball II: Fuck Hits, You Don't Need Them— Grant Brisbee (@mccoveychron) October 16, 2014
It's all starting to come together now, isn't it?