San Francisco Giants vs. St. Louis Cardinals: Team Grades from NLCS Game 4
The San Francisco Giants needed this game, but instead of bringing their A-game, they came up short on all fronts.
The starting pitching was poor, the bullpen not any better. The hitting was bad, the defense as well.
St. Louis, on the other hand, came out and put runs on the board to support Adam Wainwright, who also turned in a gem of a performance on the mound.
The final score? Cardinals took the victory in Game 4 by the score of 8-3 over Tim Lincecum, the former two-time Cy Young winner, and the Giants.
As a result, instead of heading into Game 5 with the series tied at two games apiece, the Cardinals now hold a commanding 3-1 series lead. They will try to finish off the Giants on Friday at home and return to the World Series to take on the Detroit Tigers.
Without further ado, here are the final grades for both teams from Game 4 of the NLCS.
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Bruce Bochy rolled the dice and replaced one struggling starter (Madison Bumgarner) with a starter that slumped for most of the regular season in Tim Lincecum.
The gamble did not exactly pay off the way Bochy had hoped.
Lincecum had been his former dominant self out of the bullpen for San Francisco this postseason, but he was back to the shell of his former self that we saw all too regularly in his 33 starts in 2012.
He lasted just 4.2 innings in Game 4 and was hit hard to the tune of four runs on six hits and three walks.
For St. Louis, Adam Wainwright was everything they could have hoped for. He did what big-game pitchers do: He shut down the Giants lineup, allowing just the solo homer by Hunter Pence in the second inning.
A complete contrast to how Lincecum struggled on the night, Wainwright appeared to be cruising against the Giants lineup, never finding himself in any truly difficult situations throughout the game.
Thanks to a six-run lead, Wainwright was lifted from the game after seven innings. He gave up just the one run on four hits while striking out five Giants.
Giants Final Grade for Starting Pitching: D
Cardinals Final Grade for Starting Pitching: A
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Offensively, this game was pretty much all St. Louis.
Okay, Hunter Pence did hit a solo homer for the San Francisco Giants, and Pablo Sandoval added a two-run shot in the ninth inning, but that was it for the runs. Angel Pagan and Marco Scutaro each added a multi-hit game, but that about sums up the Giants' night with the bats.
Scutaro has had two hits in each of the four games in this LCS.
For St. Louis, the hits and runs just kept coming.
Matt Carpenter filled in nicely for the injured Carlos Beltran, coming up with a big double in the fifth inning that set up an RBI single for Matt Holliday.
Jon Jay, Holliday and Yadier Molina each chipped in two RBI, and in total the Cardinals pushed eight runs across the plate against Tim Lincecum and the Giants bullpen.
Giants Final Score for Offense: D
Cardinals Final Score for Offense: A
Major Factor: Giants Defense
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Unfortunately, the box score doesn't always tell the whole story when it comes to a team's defensive play.
Yes, Pablo Sandoval's error in the second inning shows up in the box score, but the Cardinals failed to score in that inning.
How about the dropped ball at home by Hector Sanchez in attempting to tag out Matt Carpenter? Sanchez had him if he didn't rush the tag before having the ball secured. Granted, it wasn't the greatest throw either.
Or how about the sacrifice bunt in the sixth inning where Sanchez wanted to throw to third but Sandoval wasn't covering, forcing the catcher to go to first? That play left runners on second and third, both of whom would come around to score.
Then there was Gregor Blanco misplaying Yadier Molina's double in the seventh inning, allowing the Cardinals to push the score up to 7-1. Fielding the ball cleanly may have held a run off the board, at least temporarily.
Simply put, it just wasn't the crispest defense on display for a crucial Game 4 in the LCS.
Final Grade for the Giants Defense: D
Major Factor: Playing Without Carlos Beltran
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Heading into the game there were questions about how the Cardinals lineup would respond playing without their biggest bat, Carlos Beltran.
Matt Carpenter, Beltran's replacement, answered those questions with a thunderous double off the center field wall in the bottom of the fifth inning.
He promptly scored on a single by Matt Holliday.
For the night, Carpenter was 1-for-3 with a pair of walks. He also scored twice.
Cardinals Final Grade for Response to Losing Beltran: A
Final Grades for Game 4
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The San Francisco Giants are used to playing with their backs against a wall this postseason, already having overcome a 2-0 deficit in the best-of-five division series against the Cincinnati Reds.
They will find themselves yet again in a win-or-go-home scenario in Game 5 Friday night in St. Louis. Should they win, they will face another elimination situation in Games 6 and 7 if the series continues.
It's a tough task ahead, and if San Francisco is going to advance to the World Series for the second time in three years, it'll need to win three in a row for the second time this postseason.
The Cardinals will look to prevent the Giants making another improbable comeback. Their hope is to advance to the World Series for the second consecutive season and defend their World Series title against the Detroit Tigers.
It will be Barry Zito for the Giants against Lance Lynn in Game 5, Friday night at 8 p.m. ET.
Final Grade for the Giants in Game 4: D
Final Grade for the Cardinals in Game 4: A