The NLCS odds are closely contended right now, and on Wednesday afternoon in the Gateway to the West, the series continues for the St. Louis Cardinals and the San Francisco Giants.
The Giants did well to salvage a split over the course of the first two games of this series, but they know that they have a lot of work to do here in St. Louis just to be able to get back to the Bay Area. Matt Cain is going to be the man that is tasked with pitching well in this one, and this is going to be his third start of the postseason. The righty really didn’t last all that long against the Cincinnati Reds in either of the games that he started, going five frames the first time around and 5.2 the second time around. In those two games, he allowed 11 hits and three walks, surrendering six total runs, striking out nine. More importantly, Cain allowed three home runs after allowing just a total of one homer in his previous five starts to end the regular season. Is it a sign that he is tiring? We wouldn’t doubt it, knowing that he has now thrown 230 innings this year and still could have another 25 or so to go by the time this season is said and done with.
The Cardinals are in the rare spot of winning Game 1 and having home field advantage, two items of business that they haven’t had lately here in the playoffs. Their bats have been relatively silent over the course of the last 14 innings or so, scoring just one run since getting six on the board over the course of the first four innings of this series. Kyle Lohse is going to get the ball on Wednesday, and he is going to be the man of the hour for sure. Lohse averaged just 12.4 pitches per inning over the course of his last start against the Washington Nationals, and if not for the fact that he was lifted for a pinch hitter, he would have gone longer than the seven frames that he threw. Lohse has allowed just three runs in 12.2 innings of work here in the playoffs, though it must be noted that he has allowed at least one home run in four straight starts.
Lohse is clearly the better of these two pitchers at this point in the year, as he is 17-3 to show for his work on the campaign including the playoffs. If this is a game that is determined by the starters or the closers, we have a lot of confidence that Lohse and Jason Motte will get the job done. St. Louis 3 – San Francisco 2