Cardinals hold on for win in opener
SAN FRANCISCO—Ahead by a lot or behind by a bunch, these St. Louis Cardinals are winning every which way.
Boosted by two-run homers from proven post-season stars Carlos Beltran and David Freese, and 5 1/3 innings from a steady bullpen, these wild wild-card Cardinals beat the San Francisco Giants 6-4 last night in Game 1 of the NL championship series.
“I’m thinking about the D.C. game,” Freese admitted. “They were up 6-0. We were up 6-0. And that shows that you’ve got to keep playing. . . .
πWe were fortunate enough that our bullpen came in and closed the door the rest of the way.”
Starter Lance Lynn was done after 3 2/3 innings. Edward Mujica, the fifth St. Louis pitcher, struck out the side in order in the seventh for the win.
Jason Motte finished for his second save of the post-season.
The Cardinals gave first-year manager Mike Matheny a win against his former club.
Matheny’s crew hardly looked road weary after a cross-country trip. The Giants, meanwhile, dropped to 0-3 at home so far during these playoffs, outscored 20-6 at AT&T Park.
Game 2 in the best-of-seven series goes tonight. Chris Carpenter pitches for the Cardinals against Ryan Vogelsong.
This is the first time the previous two World Series winners are facing off in the post-season since the 1958 World Series between the Braves and Yankees.
“The way we play the game, we have been in this type of situation before in the regular season,” Beltran noted.
“These guys have this mentality of not panicking.”
Beltran’s fourth-inning drive into the seats in left-centre chased San Francisco starter Madison Bumgarner, who has been a far cry from the impressive pitcher he was during the 2010 World Series run.
It was Beltran’s 14th career post-season home run and third this October.
“Right now I’m really enjoying myself,” Beltran said. “Right now I’m seeing the ball well.
“I feel like I have a good approach at the plate, I feel like I’m not trying to do too much, and good things are happening.”
Both teams were well-rested a day after a rough night of travel. The Giants barely beat the Cardinals to the Bay Area early Saturday after they were delayed three hours on the tarmac in Cincinnati on Friday night—to refuel and for a mechanical problem after waiting out the Cardinals-Nationals game to know where they were headed next.
Matheny stuck with the same winning lineup that he sent out for Game 5—and some of the same faces came through again.
“They put together some better at-bats than us,” Giants’ centre-fielder Angel Pagan said. “They hit some homers and were up 6-0.
“That’s a pretty good lead in the playoffs.
“We tried to battle back,” he added. “We did our best but it wasn’t our night.”
“The bullpen did a great job,” said Cardinals’ catcher Yadier Molina. “We struck first, and to hold that lead, we won with the bullpen.”
The pressure is now on for the Giants not to fall behind 2-0 at home again. They lost the first two games of their division series here to the Reds last weekend before winning three in a row at Cincinnati.
They went 48-33 at AT&T Park this season.
“We’ve shown how resilient we can be,” said manager Bruce Bochy. “We hate to lose them at home, but it happens.
“And we’ve got to wash this one off and come out and be ready to go tomorrow [Monday].”