The St. Louis Cardinals and the San Francisco Giants advanced to the National League Championship Series by winning 3 out of 4 games in the Divisional round. Clayton Kershaw lost 3 games the entire season and in 4 games the Cardinals beat him twice. The Cardinals hit 105 home runs, the fewest in the National League and yet they hit clutch home runs throughout this series including the 3-run shot by Matt Adams off Kershaw in the 7th inning to win game four. It was the first home run by a left-handed hitter off a Kershaw curveball in history. Go figure.
Throughout the Giants run of recent success, including World Series titles in 2010 and 2012, I’ve always marveled at how they seem to capitalize on every scoring opportunity and manage to come up with just one more run than their opponent. Game four against the Nationals was a perfect example as the Giants scored the winning run on a wild pitch. Nothing fancy, they just win.
Interestingly, the teams with the best performing middle relief pitching won each series. Never mind high profile clean-up hitters, ace starting pitchers or lock-down closers. It’s the guys pitching in the 7th and 8th innings, usually unknown and often replaced. The Cardinals scored 4 critical runs in those innings against the mediocre middle relief of the Dodgers. The Giants scored key runs in the 7th innings of games 1 and 4. Give me Seth Maness or Sergio Romo and a team’s chances to make it to the World Series go up!
Dodger fans who are upset over another elimination at the hands of the Cardinals, can console themselves with distant memories of better times. Check out this DVD of the Dodger’s last World Series title in 1988.
In the American League, the Kansas City Royals did it again. Another extra inning game, another game winning home run. This is the same team that hit only 95 home runs the entire regular season. I guess they were saving them up for the post season.