Sunday, October 2, 2011

10/2/11 St Louis Cardinals 5, Philadelphia Phillies 4

Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia, PA
NLDS Game 2

Allen Craig…he does it again!

Another postseason classic pitching match-up ensues; Cliff Lee versus Chris Carpenter at Citizens Bank Park: The CLASH of the TITANS!

The Phillies took game 1, and just like that the Cardinals’ win expectancy yielded a few percentage points when facing “the greatest rotation in history”…or so they say. Lee hangs in for 6 innings, fanning 9 batters, and outlasts a seemingly struggling Carpenter who leaves the game after three mushy innings (5H, 4ER, 3BB, 2K). It seems as if LaRussa is playing the tournament baseball game so soon in the NLDS; many ask “why?” but so few understand…there is no need to wait any longer, the Cardinals are still on a roll. TLR intends to keep it that way.

The majority of the Phillies’ damage to the Cardinals erupts in the very first inning, an exhaustive combination of patient plate discipline and timely hitting (in the first inning!) where 3 runs scored on 3 hits. Another run scores in the 2nd, and after 3 innings the Phils are up by four and the Cards are still scoreless.

The Cardinals find their teeth in the 4th, and do so immediately. After Lance Berkman’s full-count walk and David Freese is called out on strikes, Yadier Molina, Ryan Theriot, and John Jay open up a can of hot sauce and tag Lee for 3 runs on 4 hits, leaving 1 behind as Jay is thrown out at home on a 7-2 flyball by Rafael Furcal. We already know Carpenter is done when Nick Punto bats in his spot (and strikes out); LaRussa summons Fernando Salas to the mound and the game is on.

Salas handles the Phils with 3 groundouts, Lee returns in the 5th to strike out two and get Berkman to pop out but in the 6th, Theriot doubles and is brought home by another John Jay spray single. The inning ends with the score tied, and Lee at 101 pitches. The Cardinals take the lead in the 7th when Allen Craig belts a husky triple on a fly ball to CF and Albert Pujols’ go-ahead RBI single scores Craig easily. He does it again, Berkman reaches on a bloop single to RF, and Lee leaves the game after 110 pitches and 5 ER.

Of interesting note during this frame is Pujols’ exceptional attempt at a productive out, Freese’s dribbler bounces near the mound; with Pujols at 3rd and Placido Polanco recovering the ball, Pujols induces a 5-2 Fielder’s Choice rundown that allows sneaky Lance Berkman to advance from 1st to 3rd without a throw. Pujols claps joyously as he is tagged out by Carlos Ruiz and Berkman is standing on the bag, now in scoring position with only 1 out, and 2 men on base. This prompts an intentional walk to Molina, and the stage is perfectly set…until Theriot ends this crafty exercise by grounding into a 6-4-3 DP. You can’t knock Prince Albert for trying!

LaRussa brings on the bullpen now, as if he is negotiating a sinister chess match…well, he is. Marc Rzepczynski hits Chase Utley to start the 8th, and Hunter Pence hits a sure-fire double-play ball to Furcal. There are no easy outs; Utley masterfully breaks up the DP by uprooting Theriot at second. However, the Phillies are unable to score; TLR summons 2 more pitchers to face the next 2 batters with 1 on and 1 out and the shut down is executed.

The Phillies can’t touch Jason Motte, brought in for a 4-out Save, and the Cardinals slide their way into a win.

The attendance of 46,575 sets a Citizens Bank Park attendance record.

Series tied 1-1

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