Last Friday St. Louis Cardinals fans were primed to celebrate a return trip to the World Series. The team had a 3-1 lead over the San Francisco Giants in the National League Championship Series. Certainly the pennant-clinching win was just a matter of time. Except for, well, it never happened. The Cardinals were rudely ushered out of this year's NLCS by the Giants last night. Here are some things that went wrong over the last three games for St. Louis.
The Hitters - The Cardinals had one of the top lineups in the National League this year. But like all Cardinals fans, I had seen them have curious offensive outages during the season. In a case of horrible timing, one of those power outages happened during the NLCS. The Giants rolled over the Cardinals in Games 5, 6 and 7 by the silly count of 20-1. For the entire series the Cardinals only scored in 10 of the 61 innings in which they batted, and four of those innings came in their 8-3 Game 4 win. We could point the finger at the middle of the lineup, or the top, but the truth is this failure belongs to the entire team.
The Starting Pitchers - The Cardinals did not get great results from the starting rotation in the crucial final three games of the NLCS. Lance Lynn, Chris Carpenter and Kyle Lohse all took the mound with a chance to pitch their team into the World Series. The results were bad. Lynn managed 3.2 innings and five runs scored; Carpenter went four and allowed five funs. The Cardinals could only get two innings out of Lohse, and he allowed five runs in that short stint on the hill. No excuses. The pitchers simply didn't get the job done.
The Defense - The breakdown of how the Cardinals played defense in their three wins in the series contrasts sharply with how they fielded in their four losses. In wins in Games 1, 3 and 4, the Cardinals did not commit an error and allowed no unearned runs. In losing Games 2, 5, 6 and 7, the Cards made six errors. Those miscues led to 10 unearned runs for the Giants. In a way it makes sense. If the offense and pitching were going to desert the team, maybe it was fitting for the fielding to also go AWOL.A native of St. Louis, Brad Boeker has rooted for the Cardinals for more than 40 years.
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