Game three of the 2012 NL Championship Series between the San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals will take place Wednesday. It will be played at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. The series is currently tied at 1-1.
The Cardinals will be returning home for the first time in a week. They have played their last five playoff games in Washington and San Francisco. In all, St. Louis has played six of their eight post season games on the road.
The Giants won three straight on the road to beat the Cincinnati Reds in their NL Divisional Series. Playing in St. Louis should not bother them at all.
In this battle of the last two World Series champions, there is not much to distinguish the teams. Both have potent offenses that can score with anyone. The pitching staffs are average at best. San Francisco has an edge at manager in that Bruce Bochy was their leader in 2010. Cardinals manager Mike Matheny was a coach last year as Tony LaRussa called the shots.
Based on everything we know, this series should go seven games. The team which can win game three will not be guaranteed anything. However, neither team should want to come from behind against the other.
Matt Cain will go to the mound for San Francisco in game three. He is 1-1 against St. Louis this season. Cain got the win while giving up four runs on eight hits in six innings on May 17. Matt Holliday homered off of him for the Cardinals. On August 8, he lasted 5 2/3 innings in an 8-2 loss. That day Cain gave up five runs on eight hits including a home run to Carlos Beltran.
The Cardinals will counter with Kyle Lohse. He did not pitch against San Francisco in 2012. In game four of the NL Divisional Series Lohse held the Washington Nationals to one run on two hits over seven innings. He did not fair in the decision as St. Louis lost 2-1.
Monday night’s 7-1 Giants victory was the first in which the Cardinals were never really in the game. St. Louis fell behind 4-1 in the fifth and could never get on track against San Francisco pitcher Ryan Vogelsong. Maybe the Cardinals were a little tired from being on the road. The Giants took advantage and did what teams playing at home should.
It is a good thing that San Francisco did. St. Louis had gotten what they wanted Sunday with a 6-4 victory. This allowed the Cardinals to get a split on the road. With the next three games at home St. Louis is in good shape.
These are two resilient ball clubs. They will not go down easy. Game three will come down to whether the Cardinals can get their bats back on track. This is no the time to go into a team slump. There is no reason to believe that St. Louis’ bats will be silent.
The Giants will have to match the Cardinals run for run and keep it close going into the seventh inning. Then both teams will go to their bullpens. Whichever one does the job will decide who goes up 2-1.
A game three victory will give either San Francisco or the Cardinals the lead. It will not guarantee either a series victory.
The team that can keep its composure will be the one who wins.
Then both will move on and prepare for a crucial game four.