If I believed the old baseball cliché that momentum only lasts as long as the next day’s starting pitcher, I’d be backing the Cardinals tonight in Game 7 of the National League Championship Series. After all, Kyle Loshe (18-3, 2.79 ERA) has been tremendous for St. Louis all season, including in the playoffs (2-0, 1.96 ERA in three starts, including a 3-1 win over San Francisco in Game 1 of this series), while Giants ace Matt Cain has followed up a tremendous regular season (16-5, 2.79 ERA) with a shaky postseason (1-2, 4.67 ERA, losing to Lohse in Game 1).
But when you get this late into October—and you reach the crescendo of a Game 7—all clichés (pardon the cliché) go out the window. Fact is, the Giants ripped this series from the Cardinals by staving off elimination with a 5-0 road victory in Game 5, thanks to a brilliant performance by Barry Zito (Barry freaking Zito?). Then Ryan Vogelsong (Ryan freaking Vogelsong?) matched Zito last night in leading the Giants to a 6-1 series-extending/season-saving victory.
Not only have the Redbirds forgotten how to get from first to home (outscored 11-1 in the last two games), they’ve simply forgotten how to hit the baseball (12 hits vs. 19 strikeouts). Adding injury to insult, slugger Matt Holiday missed Game 6 with a stiff back and is questionable tonight (this on top of a knee injury that has hampered slugger Carlos Beltran in this series). Not a good recipe when facing Cain, who is way overdue to turn in a performance befitting of his stuff. And keep this in mind: Even though he got hit hard in his only home start of the postseason (three runs in five innings against the Reds, losing 5-2), Cain is still 8-4 with a 2.18 ERA at AT&T Park this season.
Much as it makes this Dodgers’ fan stomach churn, the Giants—who are now 5-0 in elimination games this month—are going back to the World Series for the second time in three years. And when they do, you won’t find a bigger Tigers fan on the planet than yours truly.
Rating:★ ★ ★ ★
Saturday’s Result: Alabama (-12½) at Tennessee, first half (Win)