Madison Bumgarner — the hottest starting pitcher remaining in this postseason — can pitch the Giants to the 2014 World Series with a victory in Game 5 of the NLCS on Thursday night in San Francisco.
The Giants went down early in Game 4 of the NLCS Wednesday at AT&T Park, with Ryan Vogelsong surrendering four earned runs on seven hits while failing to make it past the top of the third inning.
But the home team chipped away for two runs on RBI singles from Buster Posey and Hunter Pence in the bottom of the third inning (to make the score 4-3) and then went ahead for good in the bottom of the sixth inning (mounting a lead of 6-4, also the final score) courtesy of some shoddy defense by Cardinals first baseman Matt Adams and yet another set of questionable managerial moves by skipper Mike Matheny.
The Cardinals had the same amount of hits (11) as the Giants in Game 4, including a double and a home run from the red-hot Kolten Wong, but St. Louis failed to capitalize on some early opportunities to put the game out of reach and Giants manager Bruce Bochy seems to be perpetually four steps ahead of his counterpart.
The Cardinals will need something special — and unlikely — from Adam Wainwright in Game 5.
The Giants were down 4-1 to the Cardinals after the top of the third inning Wednesday night in Game 4 of the NLCS at San Francisco’s AT&T Park, but they’re now carrying a 6-4 lead into the top of the seventh.
Here’s how the Giants scored their three runs to jump on top of the Cardinals in the bottom of the sixth …
- Juan Perez walked
- Brandon Crawford singled to right field, Perez to second base
- Matt Duffy sacrifice bunt, Perez to third base, Crawford to second base
- Gregor Blanco reached on fielder’s choice (a poor throw home by Cardinals first baseman Matt Adams), Perez scored, Crawford to third base
- Joe Panik grounded out to first base, Crawford scored, Blanco to second base
- Buster Posey singled to left-center field, Blanco scored
It was a miserable defensive half-inning for Adams, who made a poor throw that allowed Perez to score the tying run and then failed to turn what should have been a double play on Panik’s grounder right back to him.
The Giants are nine outs away from grabbing a 3-1 lead over the Cardinals in this best-of-seven NLCS.
The Cardinals are trying to get the National League Championship Series back to St. Louis, and they’re off to a decent start here in Game 4 at AT&T Park.
Matt Carpenter opened the top of the first with a leadoff double, Jon Jay followed with walk, and then Matt Adams laced a one-out RBI single to shallow left field. San Francisco retaliated with a run in the bottom of the first, but the Cards answered right back when Kolten Wong doubled to deep center in the top of the second and A.J. Pierzynski drove him in.
Wong would strike again in the top of the third inning, slugging a solo shot over the right field wall. Shortly before Wong’s blast, Matt Holliday raced home on a double play groundout by Jhonny Peralta. It was a 4-1 lead at that point and Giants manager Bruce Bochy opted to pinch-hit Joaquin Arias for starting pitcher Ryan Vogelsong to open the bottom of the third. That worked out well, as Arias singled to center and then made it home on a two-out RBI single by Buster Posey. Pablo Sandoval followed with a walk and Hunter Pence drove Posey in for the Giants’ third run through three innings against Cardinals starter Shelby Miller.
St. Louis leads Game 4 by a score of 4-3 in what could be a back-and-forth marathon.
San Francisco has a 2-1 lead in this National League Championship Series.
Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright was hammered for six runs over 4 1/3 innings in his NLDS Game 1 start against the Dodgers and he again failed to make it out of the fifth inning in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series this past Saturday versus the Giants. Those struggles are thought to be related to a lingering elbow issue that Wainwright has been dealing with since the middle of summer.
But there was a tone of optimism in the veteran’s voice after he completed a successful bullpen session Wednesday afternoon at San Francisco’s AT&T Park.
Wainwright, who’s scheduled to face off against Giants ace Madison Bumgarner in Game 5 of the NLCS on Thursday, told USA Today’s Bob Nightengale that he is “very confident going forward” and that his issues have been more mechanical than physical.
It’s the kind of thing you’d expect to hear from a confident, accomplished pitcher on the eve of what could be an elimination game. We’ll find out early Thursday evening how much of that confidence is based in reality.
Yadier Molina has remained on the Cardinals’ postseason roster despite suffering a strained left oblique in Game 2 of the NLCS — an injury that often takes over three weeks to recover from. But it doesn’t sound like we’ll be seeing him in St. Louis’ starting lineup for the remainder of this series.
Molina tried swinging a bat before NLCS Game 4 on Wednesday in San Francisco, but Cardinals manager Mike Matheny told beat writer Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the All-Star catcher did not feel good during the workout. Matheny added that they were merely “preliminary swings — just enough to realize it wasn’t worth pushing forward.”
Molina was stretching out in the bullpen Tuesday near the end of the Cardinals’ Game 3 loss to the Giants and may be asked to catch for Trevor Rosenthal or Carlos Martinez in a high-leverage situation because he works so well with those young flamethrowers. But it’ll be A.J. Pierzynski starting behind the plate on Wednesday night. Tony Cruz is also available off the bench for the Cards, who are down 2-1 in the best-of-seven.