Cardinals throw Chris Carpenter at Giants: NLCS Game 2
Poor starting pitching and spotless bullpen work was the story for both teams in the National League Championship Series opener.
With Chris Carpenter on the mound in Game 2 for the St. Louis Cardinals, the first part of that equation could change Monday night.
Carpenter brings a 10-2 career post-season record into this outing as the Cardinals look to take a 2-0 series lead and drop the San Francisco Giants to 0-4 at home in the playoffs.
St. Louis took Game 1 on Sunday 6-4. Each starter — Lance Lynn for the Cardinals and Madison Bumgarner for the Giants — lasted 3 2/3 innings and was charged with all the runs.
Six relievers for St. Louis yielded two hits over the final 5 1/3 innings and five for San Francisco did not give up a hit over the same span.
The Cardinals may not need such stellar work from their bullpen Monday with Carpenter (1-0, 0.00 ERA) starting. The veteran pitched 5 2/3 innings Wednesday in an 8-0 victory at Washington in Game 3 of a division series, lowering his earned-run average to 2.88 in 16 career post-season outings.
"He's a competitor like I've never seen," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "The guy just finds a different gear when it becomes his turn to do something special."
Carpenter, who was limited to three 2012 starts while recovering from shoulder surgery, joined Virgil Trucks of the 1945 Tigers as the second starting pitcher to win a playoff game without winning in the regular season.
"I feel good physically," Carpenter said. "I think my stuff has gotten better and better and I'm hoping that that's the case for this next one here."
The right-hander is 4-1 with a 3.57 ERA in eight career starts against the Giants, winning both previous outings at AT&T Park.
Carpenter has fared well against Hunter Pence, who is 5 for 27 versus him including the playoffs. Ryan Theriot is 7 for 15 against Carpenter, but he has yet to start this postseason.
If Carpenter pitches well, that will put pressure on Ryan Vogelsong (0-0, 1.80) to keep pace. The Giants starter is well aware of who he is up against Monday.
"He's got a good post-season track record," Vogelsong said. "He's got a good track record to begin with and he's been throwing the ball really good lately.
"He's, obviously, going to be tough."
Vogelsong made his post-season debut last Tuesday at Cincinnati in Game 3 of that series, allowing one run over five innings in a 2-1, 10-inning victory.
The right-hander won his lone 2012 start against the Cardinals on Aug. 8 with seven innings of three-hit ball in a 15-0 rout. He had gone 0-4 with a 9.00 ERA in his previous five starts against them.
Vogelsong is looking forward to pitching at home, where his ERA was 2.86 compared to his 3.87 road mark in the regular season.
"It's no secret, I've said in the past that I definitely feed off the energy that this crowd brings," he said. "I'm sure it's going to be pretty intense.
"It's pretty intense on a regular-season game here in the middle of June, so [Monday] night should be extra energetic."
Being at home hasn't been an advantage this post-season for the Giants, who have allowed their opponents to score first in all three defeats and fell behind 6-0 on Sunday.
"We've shown how resilient we can be," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "We hate to lose them at home, but it happens and we've got to wash this one off and come out and be ready to go [in Game 2]."
The Giants are batting .165 at home in the playoffs with Pence (1-12), Marco Scutaro (2-13), Angel Pagan (2-14) and Pablo Sandoval (2-12) all failing to produce a run batted in.
Carlos Beltran and David Freese each had two-run home runs for St. Louis. Beltran improved to 10 for 26 (.385) with three HRs and six RBIs this post-season.
"Right now, I'm really enjoying myself," Beltran said. "Right now, I'm seeing the ball well.
"I feel like I have a good approach at the plate. I feel like I'm not trying to do too much and good things are happening."
Cardinals second baseman Daniel Descalso, who lives in San Francisco's hip Marina neighborhood in the off-season, added two hits Sunday. Descalso was one of the stars of the Cardinals' 9-7 win over the Nationals in Game 5 on Friday with a tying two-run single with two outs in the ninth inning.
St. Louis is 8-3 in NL road playoff games over the last two years.
"The way we play the game, we have been in this type of situation before in the regular season," Beltran said. "These guys have this mentality of not panicking."