Just like that, less than 48 hours removed from another thrilling do-or-die postseason victory, the Cardinals have negated the San Francisco Giants’ home-field advantage by winning Game One of the NLCS.
The win wasn’t without its own fair share of heartburn, though, as the hometown Giants tried their best to replicate the Cards’ miracle comeback over the Nationals from Friday night.
Staked to a six-run lead, a weary-looking Lance Lynn – he had only two days rest since his last appearance and pitched in four of five NLDS games – surrendered four runs back to the Giants, arguably throwing more pitches and left in the game longer than perhaps he should have.
But alas, the Cards emerged victorious and have set themselves on an excellent path toward claiming another pennant to fly above (or be pasted somewhere at) Busch Stadium. Despite his regular season win-loss record, let’s remember that Lance Lynn was the choice to be demoted from the starting rotation when Jaime Garcia returned from injury late in the season. As such, Lynn was likely the weak link in the Cards four-man NLCS rotation that has yet to feature Chris Carpenter, Kyle Lohse, and Adam Wainwright. Sure, one of those guys could pull a stinker like Waino’s in Friday’s game in Washington, but all things being equal going in, I feel a lot better about the Cards’ chances with a guy like Carpenter than Ryan Vogelsong, don’t you?
If last night’s game taught us anything, though, it’s that these Giants are not the Nationals. These Giants are playoff-tested. That’s not meant to be a slight toward the Nats, an obviously talented team – one talented enough to win 100 games in a MLB season. But as we’ve seen time and again, in the playoffs, talent doesn’t always win the day. Experience can be a tipping point.
This year’s NLCS is the first in MLB playoff history to feature the two previous World Series winners battling each other for the right to return to the Series, and I feel quite comfortable using the word battle. So it would be, just as the Cardinals would not be discouraged or beaten by an early six-run outburst in Washington, the Giants battled back last night in San Francisco.
The Giants will not go quietly, nor would we expect them to. The Cardinals have apparently found some sort of magic formula for eking their way into the tournament and then doing their best to ruin the hopes of everyone else in it.
How fun the rest of this week should be.