The St. Louis Cardinals evened up their National League Division Series at one game apiece with a 12-4 victory over the Washington Nationals.
The Nationals got on the scoreboard first when starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann helped his own cause with an RBI single in the second inning.
But the Cardinals' potent lineup came back with a resounding response in the bottom half of the inning, blowing the game open with four runs. Home runs by Allen Craig and Daniel Descalso helped to extend the lead.
The Nationals finally responded in the fifth inning with solo home runs from both Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche. The team looked threatening in the next inning when Danny Espinosa hit a ball to the center-field wall, but Jon Jay came up with a spectacular catch to keep the Nats' bats at bay.
With so many home runs in the game, it seemed surprising that Carlos Beltran had not gone deep. That changed in the sixth inning when he crushed a pitch from Mike Gonzalez to push the lead to 8-3.
The Cardinals did not stop rolling in the eighth inning, and Beltran blasted his second home run in the frame, proving to be the icing on the cake on a day when the St. Louis bats came alive.
The Cardinals will certainly have plenty of positives to take away from Game 2 as the series moves to Washington.
Tweets of the Night
Sports Illustrated's Jay Jaffe noted early that this was going to be a difficult day for the Nationals:
Long Nationals Nightmare - and that's just the second, third and fourth innings.— Jay Jaffe (@jay_jaffe) October 8, 2012
ESPN feels that Jon Jay has elevated himself to the Chuck Norris level of awesomeness with his highlight catch in center field:
Outfield walls don't intimidate Jon Jay. Jon Jay intimidates outfield walls.— ESPN (@espn) October 8, 2012
The Los Angeles Dodgers' Matt Kemp was impressed by the grab, and he knows a few things about playing center field:
Wow! Jon Jay what a play!— Matt Kemp (@TheRealMattKemp) October 8, 2012
Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post Dispatch brought up a number that shows how impressive Carlos Beltran was at the plate Monday night:
Dan Steinberg of the The Washington Post makes a point that suggests that the Cardinals have the Nationals' number:
Cardinals have now reached double-digit runs against the Nats three times in two weeks— Dan Steinberg (@dcsportsbog) October 8, 2012
Grades for Key Nationals Players
Jordan Zimmermann: C
Zimmermann may have had a fine regular season, but he was not prepared for the potent St. Louis lineup. In just three innings of work, he allowed seven hits and five earned runs.
He managed two strikeouts, but he seemed uncomfortable on the mound the entire time he was pitching. But the Nationals are tied in the series with three consecutive home games coming up, and Zimmermann still may have a chance to redeem himself later in the postseason.
Bryce Harper: B-
Harper got the first postseason hit of his career with a double in the seventh inning. He showed great hustle to pick up an extra base on the play.
But on the next at-bat, poor judgement led to an unnecessary out. Overall Harper did not do anything noteworthy, unless you consider the fact that he struck out four times.
Ryan Zimmerman: B+
Zimmerman was the lone bright spot for the Washington offense, recording two RBI during the game. He and Adam LaRoche were responsible for the only moments of the game in which Nats batters looked dangerous.
Washington received decent production from the middle of its lineup, but this is a ballclub that is certainly not used to giving up 12 runs.
Grades for Key Cardinals Players
Lance Lynn: B
Jaime Garcia may have gotten the start in this game, but he was yanked after just two innings and Lynn saw the most action. He pitched three innings, giving up three hits and two earned runs.
Lynn struck out five Nationals and was able to keep his opponents guessing enough to let the offense continue building a lead. While he was not spectacular, he was certainly good enough in this outing.
Carlos Beltran: A
Carlos Beltran had two home runs in this game. These were not the type of home runs that generate suspense over whether or not they will leave the park.
When Beltran got a piece of these pitches, it was instantly evident that the ball would comfortably clear the outfield wall. Beltran's power was on full display in this game.
Jon Jay: A+
Jay had three RBI and a run scored while going 2-for-5 from the plate, but it will be his spectacular catch in center field that attracts attention in the highlights.
This was an extraordinary grab that deserves to be watched over and over again, and it was one of many fine plays from Jay Monday night.