The Giants aren’t used to scoring a lot, so you can’t blame them for being surprised with the offense. And, the Cardinals defense may be surprised, too.
St Louis has struggled on defense and with runners in scoring position, while the Giants have done well on both sides of the ball. They scored six runs, five off of Kyle Lohse, while knocking him out after just two innings. Matt Cain twirled a 5.2 inning shutout, although it wasn’t pretty. Brandon Crawford made a great catch on a liner by Lohse, and he knocked in a run with a chopper.
The biggest blow, however, came from Hunter Pence. Pence, who has been horrific while striking out way too often in the playoffs, hit a ball sharply to Pete Kozma at shortstop. Kozma went the wrong way, though, and he couldn’t recover in time. Marco Scutaro and Pablo Sandoval scored easily, and Buster Posey sprinted home after an error from Jon Jay. The crowd got into it, and Crawford added some insurance. He hit a chopper to Kozma, but Kozma threw home, in hope of getting Pence out.
Pence raced home, however, and Angel Pagan knocked in another run with a fielders choice. Joe Kelly got the hook after recording just two outs, although he was better than Lohse. Lohse worked out of trouble, although he did allow a run on an RBI groundout from Sandoval, who lined an outside pitch down the line for a double in the third, and an RBI single to Cain. Cain didn’t pitch extremely, but he did help at the plate.
And, despite not having anywhere close to his best stuff, he dominated on the mound.
Cain steered around potholes constantly in the first three innings, and he only had one clean inning. But some great defense and his ability to stay cool with runners on base helped him get 17 outs and allow no runs. With two on and two out, Jeremy Affeldt came in and made his pitches to Daniel Descalso, who popped out to end the frame. The Cardinals have been getting on base, but they have nothing to show for it.
In the eighth, the inconsistent Santiago Casilla came in. He surrendered two hits but made a huge pitch to David Freese, finishing him off and paving the way for Javier Lopez. Facing Tony Cruz, Lopez got ahead of the count (1-2) before sidearming a low pitch. It froze Cruz and ended up being strike three, sending the game into the ninth and the crowd into a frenzy.
Blanco made a nice running catch in the third, and he a nice play to hold Jay at first after a single, helping Cain and saving a run. Jay was stranded at third, one of four Cardinals runners stranded. San Francisco’s defense has been great, while St Louis’ has been quite the opposite. Kozma muffed a routine grounder in the seventh, but recovered to get Pagan, who was attempting to score from second, at the plate. However, a walk by Blanco and a single by Crawford set the stage for Aubrey Huff, who hit into a double play but allowed Blanco to score.
Thanks to all the contributions from all kinds of players, the Giants have a comfortable lead. Now, they just have to get through the final two innings, with exuberant closer Sergio Romo waiting for a chance to close Game 7 and set the stage for a World Series between the Giants and the Detroit Tigers.