2012 MLB Playoffs: Carpenter Chopped Down by Giants, Series Tied 1-1

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2012 MLB Playoffs: Carpenter Chopped Down by Giants, Series Tied 1-1
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Jon Jay's catch was one of the few bright spots

Chris Carpenter was tagged for five runs in four innings and backed by a superb Ryan Vogelsong start; the San Francisco Giants tied the 2012 National League Championship Series at one game apiece, winning 7-1. The series heads back to Busch Stadium Wednesday with a Game 3 matinee matching Matt Cain against Kyle Lohse.

Revisiting my major keys for victory for the Cardinals, they came up short on three of them. Key number four was offensive production from Yadier Molina. He went 0-for-3, lowering his playoff average to .143 in 2012. Key three was actually good for the second straight day. St. Louis' middle relief was good until the eighth inning, when Shelby Miller was touched up for two runs. 

Highlights from Game 2

However, it did not matter much because Vogelsong was outstanding. After a leadoff home run for Angel Pagan in the bottom of the first, the Cards managed to tie the game in the second on a double by Carpenter, plating Pete Kozma. But from that point on, Vogelsong was outstanding. It was his second dominant start against St. Louis this year, almost as great as the August 8th performance at Busch Stadium.

Carpenter, on the other hand, was not sharp. That said, he had a couple of choppers do him in as the Giants scored four in the fourth inning to break the game open. First, Gregor Blanco hit a chopper over David Freese's head as he was drawn in to protect against a bunt. That put runners on second and third. Then Brandon Crawford hit a chopper in front of the mound that Carpenter threw to the right of Allen Craig for an error, scoring a run. The backbreaker was Marco Scutaro's two-run single with two out, making it 5-1.

The other two keys were offset as well in Game 2. Carlos Beltran continued to deliver in the postseason, stinging two doubles in three official at-bats (he also walked in the first inning). But there was very little support from the rest of the lineup overall (just one hit from another position player). 

Was Matt Holliday's slide a dirty play?

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Undoubtedly though, the Cardinals failed with my number two key: Keeping the Giants role players quiet. The quartet of Pagan, Scutaro, Brandon Belt and Crawford were a combined 6-15 with four RBIs and four runs scored. Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval have been kept in check, but it didn't matter tonight.

And, oh yeah, there's a testy element to this series now, courtesy of Matt Holliday's hard slide into Scutaro in the first inning. It may have been a flashback to Scott Cousins' home plate collision of Buster Posey in 2011 that cost the Giants' catcher the rest of the year for Giants fans and Scutaro's teammates. 

But while it may have been a tad late, I didn't see it as a dirty play. However, it did get San Francisco's attention. So now we have a tie series. Game 3 will be huge as the Cardinals will attempt to do what the Reds could not: Protect their home field. 

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