Score and situation: The St. Louis Cardinals broke loose for 13 hits, including eight for extra bases and four home runs, in a 12-4 thumping of the Washington Nationals on Monday. The best-of-five series is even at a game apiece heading back to Washington for up to three games.
Leading lads: Light-hitting Daniel Descalso had two hits, including a home run, and he drove in a pair. He also hustled to cover up for Matt Holliday's poor throw from left field, throwing out Bryce Harper trying to advance to third base. Jon Jay hit a triple, drove in three and made the best catch of the series so far — one of the best of the season — robbing Danny Espinosa of extra bases just as he slammed into the fence in center. Carlos Beltran hit two home runs, the second coming as the Cards piled on during the eighth. Allen Craig had two hits, including a home run, and scored twice. Everybody hits!
Head hangers: Nats right-hander Jordan Zimmermann didn't have it in his first postseason start, allowing five runs and seven hits over three innings. Bryce Harper picked up his first postseason hit, a hustling double in the seventh, but one batter later he made a baserunning mistake, getting thrown out at third after a sacrifice fly. He also struck out four times.
Key play: The offense was impressive, so pick any hit, but Jay's catch was amazing.
Interesting stat: After getting through Game 1 with no extra-base hits, the Cardinals and Nationals combined for 11.
Interesting stat II: Beltran brought his postseason career homer total to 13. His playoff power is nothing new to the Cardinals, either, as St. Louis has been the victim of seven Beltran homers in past Octobers. (h/t @dgoold)
Interesting stat III: The Cardinals are 14-4 on Mondays.
What they'll be talking about: Jay's catch. Beltran's power. Harper's youth. And Cardinals manager Mike Matheny making like Tony La Russa during the 2011 playoffs by removing starting pitcher Jaime Garcia for a pinch hitter in the bottom of the second inning. Matheny went to Skip Schumaker with runners at the corners, one out and the Cards leading by a run. Schumaker made contact (and an out), but two more runs scored in the inning and led 4-1, so it worked out in that sense. Garcia had gotten off to a poor start in his two innings: One run, two hits and three walks. The Cardinals' bullpen wasn't that much better, but it was good enough. The move certainly was aggressive.
What's next: After a day off, the series shifts to D.C. for Game 3. It's a small miracle that Cardinals right-hander Chris Carpenter is starting after recovering from thoracic outlet syndrome, but he was effective in three late-season starts. Former Cardinals right-hander Edwin Jackson goes for the Nats. You never know what you'll get with Jackson, but it could be no-hitter-type stuff. This is the first game of the day — a 1:07 p.m. ET start — and will be televised only on MLB Network, so plan accordingly.
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