NLCS: 3 Keys For The San Francisco Giants To Win Game 6


Barry Zito’s masterpiece on Friday night against the St.Louis Cardinals has the Giants back where the want to be for Game 6 and possibly Game 7—at home.

Ryan Vogelsong will oppose Chris Carpenter. Carpenter was practically the opposite of Vogelsong in their first meeting in Game 2. He left multiple hittable pitches up in the zone which is mainly why he made it through just four innings before being yanked.

Here are three keys for the Giants to win Game 6 on Sunday night:

Score First

In case you haven’t noticed, the Giants generally win if they score first. Not early, but first. There’s nothing tricky about the observation. In Game 2, Angel Pagan led off with a solo home run off Chris Carpenter. The Giants would eventually go on to win by a score of 7-1. As for Game 5, Barry Zito was lights out, but the Giants did indeed strike first en route to their second win of the series.

Scoring first certainly doesn’t guarantee a win by any stretch of the imagination, but the odds increase for the better, especially if that particular team resides at home. On the road there isn’t a single better feeling than the stadium being silent, while loud noises, rally rags twirling, and overall joy is more of an ideal scene for a home team.

The Giants hope that the latter picture will coincide with them scoring first on Sunday night. If so, the crowd will begin to sniff a win from the beginning which will inevitably lead its way into the Giants’ dugout. It’s a win-win opportunity for San Francisco. And the one thing that will guarantee full support from the home crowd, is to score first.

Avoid St.Louis’s Bullpen

Nobody exactly knows how the Cardinals find flamethrowers such as Trevor Rosenthal and Joe Kelly, then again, it doesn’t matter at this point. The Giants simply just need to avoid them if they’re losing. In retrospect, if they have the lead, than it’s a different story. But if they’re losing and the game is close heading into the later innings, then they won’t have much margin for error.

In a way, St.Louis’s bullpen is comparable to Cincinnati’s. Both are very tough to hit, and have a surplus amount of arms that can light up the radar gun. More importantly, they both have a set alignment as to whose coming into the game and when. Edward Mujica handles the seventh inning duties, Mitchell Boggs in eighth, and Jason Motte in the ninth. Then manager Mike Matheny mixes in Rosenthal and Kelly if the starters fail to reach the fifth inning.

If the Cardinals’ bullpen comes in anytime before the seventh inning, then the Giants would probably boast a lead. But anytime after the sixth inning probably won’t bode well for San Francisco, making scoring a very tough task, especially at the spaciously dimensioned AT&T Park.

Ryan Vogelsong: Keep The Cardinals Off Balanced

This shouldn’t be so much as a key rather than a “do it again” for Vogelsong because he replicated the perfect approach against the Cardinals’ lineup in Game 2. He didn’t overuse his fastball, throwing it about 38 percent of the time, and mixed in most of his arsenal. Against a team that scored the second most runs in the National League during the regular season, several adjustment must be made throughout a start.

Oct 15, 2012; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Ryan Vogelsong (32) delivers a pitch during game two of the 2012 NLCS against the St. Louis Cardinals at AT

The other piece of the puzzle is location, which Vogelsong also possessed on Monday night. The majority of his strikes were low in the strike zone, and most of his misses were in tight or off the plate. Even the best hitting teams couldn’t solve an approach like that. Vogelsong obviously knew he had very little margin for error against St.Louis, and he was air tight with his command. The only blemish was a fastball that he left out over the plate to the pitcher Chris Carpenter, and he smoked a double into the left centerfield gap to drive in St.Louis’s lone run of the game.

However, the Cardinals are going to have a refined approach against Vogelsong after struggling against him a little less than a week ago. It will be his job to adjust on the fly, while still utilizing the same tactics he demonstrated in Game 2 which did him well.