The Giants and Cardinals share so many traits. But not one is more obvious than their ability to fight back. The Giants are certainly fighting back which sets up a Game 7 that could be an action packed movie equipped with too much drama to handle. Instead, the baseball world will have a baseball game thanks to stellar pitching performances by Barry Zito and Ryan Vogelsong over the past two games.
The Cardinals didn’t want to pack their bags and fly back to San Francisco for Game 6 and Game 7. They knew that Vogelsong was going to bring it on Sunday night. And he followed suit, pitching seven exceptional innings. He allowed just one run on four scattered hits, and struck out a career-high nine batters. He was in the zone from pitch number one, while the Cardinals were somewhere else but the strike zone.
San Francisco already beat the odds once against the Reds in the NLDS, but on Monday night, they will have a chance to capture an even rarer feat.
One of the undeniable keys for the Giants was to jump on Chris Carpenter early. Historically, the first three innings tend to give the seasoned veteran trouble, but finding life anytime after the third is generally hard to come by for any opposing team. The Giants’ offense did exactly what they wanted to do. Buster Posey drove in a run in the first inning on a ground ball out. Marco Scutaro, the runner on third base, sprinted home and appeared to be a dead duck when the third baseman David Freese glanced at him. Freese, though, didn’t have a great gripping on the ball and his only option was at first base. So he took the safe route.
St.Louis’s defense has been the exact opposite of air-tight over the past two games, and on Sunday that trend continued. Brandon Belt lined a leadoff triple off the facing of the right field brick wall. Gregor Blanco killed their rally by swinging through three pitches, and allowing the Cardinals to walk Brandon Crawford in order to face Vogelsong. But the Cardinals’ defense let them down. Shortstop Pete Kozma bobbled a slow roller off the bat of Vogelsong, allowing a run to score and Vogelsong to reach on the error.
Three more runs came across after the error, charing Carpenter with three unearned runs. It’s safe to say that he hasn’t had much go his way in the NLCS. In Game 2, errors played a role in the final tally as well. Although, he was charged with one of St.Louis’s two errors in that game.
Vogelsong, though, was the headline. The Cardinals’ bats looked lost all night, except for two hits in the sixth inning which would lead to their only run. And for Vogelsong, getting the ball to Matt Cain on Monday night was his goal. It didn’t have to bepretty, but it was.
And for a series that consists of two teams known for their comebacks, only one will prevail on Monday.