The St Louis Cardinals beat the San Francisco Giants 6-4 in game one of the NL Championship Series to take a one game to none series lead.
If you're a fan of great starting pitching, this game wasn't for you. Also, if you're a fan of epic contests where the lead goes back and forth or one team claws back over the course of the game…well, this game wasn't for you either. Ater the fourth inning in San Francisco, this game turned into a battle of bullpens throwing up zeroes with no regard for human life.
Madison Bumgarner turned in his second straight crummy playoff start for the Giants. He left after 11 outs, allowing six runs on eight hits and letting a couple of balls leave the park. The Cardinals led 6-0 when he left the game after allowing a two-run homer to Carlos Beltran. David Freese also continued his playoff success in the second with a two-run homer, and the middle infield duo of Daniel Descalso and Pete Kozma both doubled in the fourth en route to scoring runs.
In the bottom of the fourth, the kraken known as the Giants offense was unleashed against Lance Lynn. Lynn sandwiched a pair of singles around the first two outs in the inning, and then his trouble started. A Brandon Belt single made it 6-1, and a Gregor Blanco triple cut the lead to 6-3. Brandon Crawford doubled in Blanco to make it 6-4, and after a walk to Aubrey Huff, Lynn's night was over after 11 outs of his own, and four runs on five hits.
Once both starters left the game though, the bullpens clamped down. Neither allowed a run in their 5 1/3 innings of work. The Cardinals bullpen allowed just two hits and two walks over the rest of the game, with the Giants putting two on with one out in the fifth as the only thing closest to a rally they'd have the rest of the game. As for the Giants bullpen…they didn't allow a hit and walked just one batter over their 5 1/3 innings in the game. That one walk was by Tim Lincecum to Allen Craig in the fifth, the first batter he faced…and Lincecum erased him on a double play. That walks and a Pablo Sandoval throwing error that allowed Yadier Molina to reach were the only negatives of a sensational game from San Francisco's bullpen.
But overall, despite outstanding relief outings from each team, it came down to early offense. The Cardinals put more runs on the board early, and when the bullpens went into lockdown mode, the damage was already done. When the St Louis bullpen is throwing first pitch strikes to 13 of 20 batters, it was tough for the Giants to make things happen offensively.
Game two will be in San Francisco on Monday at 8:00 PM. Chris Carpenter gets the start for the Cardinals, and Ryan Vogelsong will head to the hill for the Giants.