The fact that the St. Louis Cardinals entered the 2011 playoffs as a wildcard may somehow convince baseball fans that they are underdogs to the Philadelphia Phillies in the 2011 National League Division Series. But fans in Cardinals Nation are not deceived at all. And maybe after a come from behind victory in game 2 over none other than Cliff Lee should convince the rest of the nation as well.
With one of the top pitchers in the game on the mound in Lee the Phillies were beaming with confidence as they were staked to a 4-0 lead and facing a commanding two game lead in this best of five series. To make matters seem even more bleak for the Cardinals the Phillies had knocked ace Chris Carpenter, who was going on three days rest out of the game.
Even with all of that the Cardinals, who had overcome a 10 ½ game deficit to the Atlanta Braves to get here seemed unfazed by a four run deficit. They chipped away at Lee to pull within a run in the fourth inning on clutch hitting by the bottom of the order. Lee, who had held the opposing teams’ 7-9 hitters to a .179 BA during the regular season allowed Ryan Theriot, Jon Jay and Rafael Furcal to go 5-10 in the game with 3 RBI.
Though the Redbirds would ultimately win the game by a count of 5-4 on Albert Pujols’ single to left to score Allen Craig who had singled, the story of the day was the Cardinals bullpen who combined for one hit over the final six innings to help preserve a key win. Cards’ relief pitcher Jason Motte recorded the final four outs of the game to earn the save.
With the win the Cardinals seized home field advantage as the series heads to St. Louis for games 3 and 4. Jaime Garcia will take the mound for the Cardinals and the Phillies will counter with lefty Cole Hamels. Despite this being only his second full year in the league and without any postseason experience the Cardinals should feel pretty confident with Garcia on the mound tonight. The month of September may not have consisted of any postseason games but you can’t tell Garcia or the Cardinals that his victories were not just as big. Garcia went 3-0 in the month of September with a 2.64 ERA in five starts. Nine of his 13 wins in 2011 were at Busch Stadium. Garcia’s ERA at home (2.55) was more than two points less than on the road (4.61). Also keep in mind that the Cardinals beat Hamels in Philadelphia back on September 18 on four runs in seven innings.
Furthermore Garcia has had decent success against the Phillies in his career. He is 2-1 in six career starts against the Phillies with a 1.20 ERA. Phillies power hitter Ryan Howard is 2-12 in his career against Garcia and Chase Utley is 0-6. The last time he face the Phillies he allowed one run in a no decision on September 16.
The Phillies feel just as confident with Hamels on the mound as they do with former Cy Young Award winners Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee on the mound. He went 14-9 in 2011 with a 2.79 ERA in 32 games. He allowed only 169 hits and struck out 194 in 216 inninigs. Hamels is 6-4 in 12 career playoff starts for the Phillies with a 3.33 ERA. He was 4-0 during 2008 postseason as the Phillies won the world Series.
This will be an interesting series as the Cardinals, first in runs, batting average and on base percentage this year faces arguably the best pitching staff in the majors.
About the Author
Written by Chaz Ingram
During his lengthy career Chaz has worked in various areas of the media. As an actor he has appeared on such shows as "Less Than Perfect" "CSI New York" and "Outlaw". He's performed on stage in such plays as "West Side Story", "The Wiz" "Oliver" and "Sugar". He has also landed roles in several commercials most notably as a reporter for "NFL Legends" and as a model for Ameriquest Mortgage. Chaz's extensive background in the broadcast industry has given him invaluable experience in several areas of the business. His work as an assignment desk intern as well as in the news and sports departments at the local ABC and NBC TV stations in St. Louis, MO has given him experence on various levels of news production. Chaz is a former host of of his own radio show "The Spirit of Chaz", where he was also writer and producer at KXEN in St. Louis. As a Marketing Consultant at KSDK-TV (NBC) Chaz was a major contributor to the station's #1 position in overall sales in the St. Louis market. At KEZK radio he was awarded "rookie of the year" for his achievements in sales. The St. Louis Business Journal recognized Chaz as one of their "40 Under 40" awardees for his work in the community with youth. Additionally, St. Louis public Schools recognized him as "Role Model of the Year" in 1995 & 1996. He is the recipient of the 1989 edition of "Outstanding Young Men of America". Chaz currently resides in Los Angeles where he owns Nicolexis Inspirations a motivational and life coach company.