After the Giants came back from a 3-1 series deficit to beat the Cardinals 4-3 in the NLCS, I had a few thoughts about the performance of both teams in the series.
1. The Cardinals offense turned into pumpkins over the final three games of the series.
It's appropriate given that Halloween is right around the corner, but the Cardinals offense just didn't show up in the last three games of the series. They scored one run against Giants pitching, tallied just three extra base hits (all doubles), and went 1/21 with runners in scoring position in games five, six, and even. That's absolutely not the way to win a series, Their pitching did them no favors at all, but you can't expect to win when you're having offensive stretches like the Cardinals did to end the series.
2. St Louis had atrocious plate discipline.
In the NLDS against the Natinonals, St Louis had 29 walks in five games. In the NLCS against the Giants, they had 15 in seven games. Give all the credit in the world to the Giants pitching staff for bearing down and getting stingy with the walks, but the Cardinals were way too agressive in games five and six, walking just one time in each of those games. By the time they started drawing free passes in game seven (four in total for the game), the game was already out of hand.
3. Everything we knew about the Giants starting pitching is on its head.
Barry Zito threw 7 2/3 shutout innings in a crucial game five, replacing Madison Bumgarner who continued to struggled in the playoffs after a fantastic regular season. Ryan Vogelsong allowed two runs in 14 innings over two starts in the series after looking completely done over the season's final two months. If those guys are pitching well, along with the always solid Matt Cain, maybe this World Series with the Tigers isn't a foregone conclusion after all.
4. San Francisco's bullpen put it all together.
Jeremy Affeldt, Sergio Romo, Javier Lopez, Santiago Casilla, Jose Mijares, and Tim Lincecum combined to throw 16 2/3 scoreless innings, striking out 18 and walking six. That's just astounding stuff, and it was more than enough to compensate for one awful Guillermo Mota outing (two runs in 2/3 of an inning of work) and some shaky situational relief from George Kontos (two runs in 1 1/3 innings over three games, all Giants losses). Shutting this Cardinals lineup down isn't an easy task, but the Giants bullpen was more than up for it.
5. The middle of the Giants lineup is a bullet wound right now.
Buster Posey and Hunter Pence did not have a very good NLCS. Posey went 4/26 with one RBI and no extra base hits, while Pence went 5/28 with eight strikeouts before delivering a big two-run double in game seven. With the havoc Marco Scutaro caused at the top of the Giants lineup in the NLCS (14 hits and two walks), the Giants could have put a lot more runs on the board if they didn't have to rely on just Pablo Sandoval to bring runs home. Posey and Pence need to get out of their funks before the World Series.