Pivotal Game 3 of the 2012 NLCS was a bit like a bad dream, a game punctuated with injuries, Midwest thunderstorms and Tim McCarver's "golden days" baseball stories.
Carlos Beltran left the game after one at-bat with a knee injury while the Giants offense took advantage of a nibbling Kyle Lohse to litter the basepaths with runners, yet were only able to push across one tally.
But when the sun rose Thursday morning, the Cardinals' 3-1 victory—and 2-1 series lead—was indeed a reality. They had won, apparently, though it certainly didn't feel like it to Cardinals fans.
Game 4 showed, however, that the Cards are finally, fully awake.
For the first time in the series, a Cardinal starter earned a quality start. For the first time in the series, Matt Holliday and Yadier Molina contributed offensively. For the first time, the Cardinals looked like the best team in the National League.
All in all, it was a convincing 8-3 win that wasn't as close as the final score indicated.
St. Louis needs just one more win in the final three contests to punch their return ticket to the World Series to defend their title.
But clearly, there are plenty of reasons why Mike Matheny and the Cards should do everything they can to close out the Giants tonight in Game 5. Lets look at five of those.