The St. Louis Cardinals go into game five of the 2012 NL Championship Series needing one more win to clinch the pennant. St. Louis leads the best of seven series three games to one over the San Francisco Giants. Friday night’s game will take place at Busch Stadium.
The Cardinals will send Lance Lynn to the mound to wrap things up. He started game one in San Francisco, but did not fair well. Lynn lasted only 3 2/3 innings and gave up four runs on five hits. St. Louis led 6-4 when he was replaced by Joe Kelly. Lynn did not figure in the decision.
Madison Bumgarner would normally get the call for the Giants. However, he has struggled in the post season. In eight innings of work Bumgarner has given up 10 runs on 15 hits to the Cincinnati Reds and Cardinals. St. Louis defeated him in game one 6-4.
Instead of Bumgarner, Barry Zito will try and save San Francicso’s season. He went 15-8 in the regular season with an ERA of 4.15. Zito defeated Lynn 4-2 on August 7 in St. Louis. In that game he went 6 2/3 innings and gave up two runs on eight hits.
In the post season Zito started game four of the NL Divisional Series against Cincinnati. He left that game after 2 2/3 innings having given up two runs on four hits. Despite his early exit the Giants won 8-3 to tie the series at two games apiece.
In game four the Cardinals bats came alive as they jumped on San Francisco starter Tim Lincecum. St. Louis never left any doubt as they cruised to an 8-3 victory.
For the Giants the one thing that they didn’t need is for the Cardinals bats to get hot. In games two and three, San Francisco held St. Louis to four runs. This gave them a split. The Giants hoped that Lincecum would continue their success, but it was not to be.
San Francisco was in this same situation a week ago. They trailed the Reds 2-0 with three games to play in Cincinnati. The Giants swept the Reds. They will have to win one in St. Louis and two at home to beat the Cardinals.
St. Louis is a tough team to beat anywhere. They are extremely tough at home. San Francisco has its work cut out for them.
Usually when a pitcher struggles like Zito did in his last start they come out pretty strong. Zito should be fine. The problem is he will probably not go the distance.
The Cardinals will play their usual game. They will peck away with a run here and there. They will keep the big innings to a minimum on defense. Whether behind or ahead St. Louis will keep the pressure on the Giants.
It may be too much for San Francisco to handle. This series could be over.