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Giants vs. Cardinals: Why San Francisco Isn't Done Just Yet

Joe GoldmanCorrespondent IOctober 19, 2012

Giants vs. Cardinals: Why San Francisco Isn't Done Just Yet

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    After winning three straight games to knock out the Cincinnati Reds, the Giants entered the NLCS series with all the momentum in the world. This series against the Cardinals, however, hasn't gone as planned.

    The Giants now find themselves in a 3-1 hole, prompting many MLB fans to pencil in the Tigers and Cardinals in the World Series.

    However, the Giants are far from out of it.

    An epic NLCS comeback could be in the works. Here's why.

MLB's History of 3-1 Comebacks

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    Throughout the history of seven-game series, comebacks from a 3-1 series deficit are fairly rare but entirely possible.

    Six teams over the last 27 years have come back from a 3-1 deficit, which is fairly high considering the statistical improbability of a three-game playoff comeback.

    The Royals did it in 1985, the Braves in 1996, the Marlins in 2003, and the Red Sox in 1986, 2004 and 2007.

    Perhaps we're overdue for another epic comeback in baseball.

    The Giants, moreover, won't just rely on luck. They matchup well enough with the Cardinals to pull it off.

Series Underperformance

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    It is inherent is baseball's nature that the better team doesn't always win.

    This has proven especially true in the NLCS series, where the Giants have a higher batting average, on-base percentage, WHIP and batting average against through the first four games.

    What's killing the Giants, however, is batting average and pitching with RISP.

    They are hitting .250 with RISP, far lower than their season average. Meanwhile, the Cardinals have a solid .310 average with RISP.  

    The Giants haven't hit a Yankee-like scoring wall or anything of that sort. They simply aren't getting hits at the right time and need to start getting clutch outs with runners on base.

    If they can turn around their lack of clutch hitting and pitching for Game 5, we'll have a whole different series.

Favorable Remaining Pitching Matchups

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    Game 5

    Barry Zito vs. Lance Lynn

    On paper, this one looks like just about a toss up.

    For the year, Zito is 15-8 with a 4.15 ERA and 1.39 WHIP, while Lynn is 18-7 with a 3.78 ERA and a 1.32 WHIP.

    Zito, however, has the hot hand.

    He has only surrendered 10 runs in his last 33.1 innings. Lynn, meanwhile, has allowed 11 runs in his last 12.2 innings.

    Plus, in one start against the Cardinals this season, Zito won on the road by allowing two runs in 6.2 innings.

    This one is a close matchup and can go either way, but if Zito can continue to command his curve ball and extend his hot streak, the Giants will be right back in the series.

     

    Game 6

    Chris Carpenter vs. Ryan Vogelsong

    For Game 6, the Giants will return to San Francisco where Vogelsong is outstanding.

    He's 7-4 at AT&T park with a 2.86 ERA and .228 BAA for the season. With a 2.15 home ERA in 2011, he's been strong at home ever since he rejoined the Giants in 2011.

    Carpenter, meanwhile, is more of a question mark. He's been wildly inconsistent in his small sample of starts this year (only five).

    He most recently surrendered five runs (two earned) in four innings against the Giants in Game 2.

    At home, the edge has to go to Vogelsong.  

     

    Game 7

    Kyle Lohse vs. Matt Cain

    More on that on the next slide.

Huge Game 7 Advantage

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    If the Giants can survive these next two games, they have a huge and decisive advantage in Game 7.

    Matt Cain will take on Kyle Lohse for the second time this series, but this time around Cain should pull out a win.

    Cain has a 2.03 ERA at AT&T Park, where the Giants sport a 48-33 record. As a team, they are far superior at home on both sides of the field.

    Meanwhile, Lohse posted an ERA a whole point higher on the road than at home. The Cardinals as a team are 38-43 away from St. Louis and hit .258 on the road, compared to .285 at home.

    If the Giants can take the next two games—a legitimate possibility considering they took three in a row from the Reds—then the edge in Game 7 will likely go to the Giants.  

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