So far in this postseason, being “good on paper” has meant nothing. While the Yankees did beat the upstart Orioles and the Tigers took care of the A’s, the Giants beating the A’s and the Cardinals beating the Nationals has been very surprising. That’s continued in the Championship Series as the 88-74 Tigers have handled the 95-67 Yankees while the 88-74 Cardinals have also beaten the 94-68 Giants so far.
Just like in Game One of the ALCS, pitching was the key in this game. With Anibal Sanchez (1-1, 1.35 this postseason) and Hiroki Kuroda (0-1, 2.81 this postseason) on the mound, it obviously would be. Just like in Game One, pitching was on display early with neither team scoring through the first six innings– and hardly even any big innings for either side. It took until the seventh until either team did something, and that started on a leadoff double by Quintin Berry. Miguel Cabrera’s single put runners at first and third with no outs. Prince Fielder struck out, but Delmon Young’s forceout (Young’s strong playoff performance is making me rethink whether the Red Sox should pursue him!) would drive Berry in from third as the Tigers took the 1-0 lead. They got some insurance in the eighth, with a pair of two-out singles putting two runners on. Avisail Garcia came in to pinch-hit and delivered with a single to right and he was followed up by a Miguel Cabrera single to make it 3-0. Phil Coke handled the Yankees in the eighth and ninth and the Tigers are up 2-0.
While pitching reigned supreme in the ALCS, offense was the key in the Cardinals-Giants game. After a scoreless first for both sides, the Cardinals got on the board in the second when David Freese drilled a two-run homer to left-center to make it 2-0. After an inning’s rest, the Cards got right back to business in the fourth, putting a man on second with one out. Rookie shortstop Pete Kozma, who is rocking the world this October, drove him in with a double before scoring himself on a single by Jon Jay to make it 4-0. The final blow would come when Carlos Beltran knocked one out to left for a two-run home run to put the Cardinals up by six. However, the Giants weren’t done as they were able to put runners at the corners with two outs in the bottom of the fourth. Three straight run scoring hits (RBI single by Brandon Belt, two-run triple by Gregor Blanco, and RBI double by Brandon Crawford) would cut the Cardinals’ lead to two and make it 6-4. Neither team scored again over the next five innings as the Cardinals took Game One.