Cardinals Aim to Close Out Giants

With the ALCS already wrapped up and with the Tigers on their way to their first World Series since 2006, all Detroit can do now is wait and see who they will be up against. It’s certainly looking like it will be the Cardinals, who are on the brink of a second straight trip to the World Series. St. Louis has a chance to end the NLCS in game five tonight and advance to try to defend its World Series crown, but expect a good fight from the feisty Giants, who battled back from an 0-2 series hole against Cincinnati in the NLDS. Here is today’s matchup and my pick to win game five.

The Cardinals hope they will have something big to celebrate tonight

St. Louis busted out the bats last night in game four, scoring eights runs and posting 12 hits in an 8-3 win. The team had been batting just under .200 in the first three games combined. They will look to continue that success against veteran Barry Zito, who will get the task of starting for San Francisco and trying to keep its season alive.

Zito needs a strong outing if the Giants are to continue their season

Zito scored seven straight wins to end the regular season, but only lasted two and two-thirds innings in his first 2012 postseason start against the Reds. However, the Giants wouldn’t be giving him the ball today if they didn’t believe he could get the job done.

“You don’t win as many games as he has without throwing the ball well,”Giants manager Bruce Bochy said after last night’s game via “He’s earned this. And we have all the confidence in Barry tomorrow.”

The Giants know they will need to score runs, which is something they have not done much of the last two night’s at Busch Stadium. San Fran scored just one in Wednesday’s loss and three last night. However, they may have some more opportunities against St. Louis’ starter for game five, Lance Lynn. Lynn has made 14 career playoff appearances out of the bullpen, but is making just his second postseason start. Like Zito, Lynn didn’t last long in his previous postseason outing, which was in game one of the NLCS, going just three and two-thirds, while giving up four earned runs. But Lynn says he’s up to the challenge of facing the Giants lineup again.

“I’m as strong as I’ve ever been all year, and the playoff start was good to get,” Lynn said. “Wish I could have done better the first one, but I’ve got a lot to learn from that one.”

The Cardinals are at home, but I definitely like the Giants in this pitching matchup. Zito has endured some rocky seasons, but his veteran leadership and character should help him outduel the young Lynn. Don’t get me wrong, the Cardinals will win this series and advance, but not today. Take the Giants to win game five and keep the series alive, at least for one more day.