Saturday, October 15, 2011

Cardinals Take Game Five, 7-1, Lead NLCS, 3-2; Rangers-Tigers Resume Saturday

Players of the Day for Friday, October 14, 2011

National League

Cardinals 7 Brewers 1

St. Louis bounced back after Thursday's loss to forge another lead in the NLCS, taking a 3-2 series edge back to Milwaukee, where they can eliminate the Brewers with a game six victory.

Jaime Garcia
The Brewers were their own worst enemy, committing four errors in the game, though St. Louis manager Tony LaRussa and starting pitcher Jaime Garcia deserve most of the credit for the win. Garcia lasted only 4 2/3 innings, yielding one earned run off seven hits, fanning five without issuing any walks, but he was even more effective at the plate, going 0-for-2 with an RBI, though his key at-bat came in the crucial bottom of the second.

After Yadier Molina had doubled in Lance Berkman with the game's first run, Nick Punto lined out to third, leaving David Freese on thrid and Molina on second with two outs and Garcia coming to the plate. The 25-year-old lefty sent a hot smash between the legs of Milwaukee third baseman Jerry Hairston Jr., scoring both Freese and Molina, who were off on contact. The play was ruled an fielding error, though the ball never touched Hairston's glove, taking a low hop under it after skidding off the lip of the infield grass. A clean bounce would probably have resulted in Garcia being thrown out at first, ending the inning. The official scorer may have been too hard on Hairston; ruling the play a hit rather than an error would have given Garcia a couple of RBI.

In the fourth, Garcia did manage to get an RBI, on his ground out to short after LaRussa made the unorthodox move of having #8 hitter Punto sacrifice with one out and Freese on second and Molina on first. Punto laid down a perfect bunt to advance the runners to second and third, and Garcia laid the bat on the ball, plating Freese and putting the Cardinals ahead 4-0.

In the fifth, after Garcia had allowed the Brewers to score a run with two out, two aboard and Ryan Braun heading to the dish, LaRussa lifted his starter for reliever Octavio Dotel, who struck out Braun swinging on a series of low, outside sliders.

Matt Holliday
Yadier Molina
From there, the brilliant St. Louis bullpen took over, allowing just two hits the rest of the way. In the series, Cardinal relievers are 2-0 with a 1.66 ERA over 22 2/3 innings, holding Milwaukee batters to a .164 average. The only St. Louis starter to last long enough to record a win is Chris Carpenter, who worked five full innings in the Cardinals' 4-3, game three victory.

Matt Holliday and Yadier Molina each collected three hits, a double and two singles apeice. Holliday drove in a pair of runs, while Molina scored once and drove in one.

Game six is Sunday in Milwaukee, at 4:05 pm EDT. St. Louis sends Edwin Jackson to the mound to face Shaun Marcum in a rematch of game two starters.

American League

Friday was a travel day for the American Leaguers. The best-of-seven championship series resumes Saturday in Arlington, TX, at 8:05 pm EDT. with the Rangers holding a 3-2 edge over the Tigers.

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