After Barry Zito pitched possibly the game of his career a few nights ago to extend the series between the Giants and Cardinals to a sixth game, Ryan Vogelsong was obviously inspired, as he also pitched the game of his life, a career-high nine-strikeout performance in San Francisco’s 6-1 win. The win now extends the series again, to a seventh and final seventh game tonight to determine who will represent the National League in the World Series against the Detroit Tigers.
As much as Vogelsong rose to the occasion when he needed to, the Giants’ bats also stepped up, getting Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter off the mound early by scoring five runs in the first two innings. Carpenter lasted just four innings, with his performance and results being the exact same as his game two start, a game in which he and the Cards also lost to Vogelsong.
Now along with San Fran, St. Louis is also on the brink of elimination, but the defending champions have been here plenty of times before and have won their last two NLCS game sevens, in 2004 against Houston and in 2006 against New York.
“We’ve been in this spot before,” St. Louis second baseman Daniel Descalso said after the game via ESPN.com. “We’re going to be be intimidated by it.”
The Cardinals have certainly experienced tough losses in the past, but they are a team that has always seemed to bounce back and if they want to defend their title, they’ll have to do it again.
“The one thing I know is these guys take these ones hard,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. “We’ve had a number of losses this season that felt like we’ve been kicked in the gut as we’re walking off the field. And what I have admired about this club is they show up tomorrow the exact same guys that they showed up here today.”
And so the stage is set for an epic game seven, after which only one NL team will remain.
The Giants will give the ball to Matt Cain, who went 16-5 with a 2.79 ERA during the regular season, but who has also lost two games this postseason including game three of the current series. He allowed three earned runs in that game in six and two-thirds innings, but lacked run support in the 3-1 loss.
The Cards will once again go with Kyle Lohse, who is 2-0 in three starts this postseason with a 1.96 ERA. Lohse won the previous matchup with Cain in game three, giving up just one earned run in five and two-thirds innings. The righty is now 3-1 in four career starts against the Giants.
I’ve said all along that the Giants would force game seven, which they did, but I also have said that the Cardinals would still take the series and I still believe that to be the case. With the advantage in the pitching matchup and with having gone to the World Series more recently, I like the Cardinals to make a return trip this season. Of course, we will find out tonight, as I’m sure everyone will be watching this highly-anticipated NLCS game seven.