MLB Playoff Predictions 2012: Stars That Will Step Up in Game 5 of NLCS
The St. Louis Cardinals took a commanding 3-1 lead over the San Francisco Giants on Thursday night, setting up an NLCS elimination game on Friday. Unlike the Yankees, don't expect the feisty Giants to go down without a fight.
With two struggling pitchers on the mound in Lance Lynn and Barry Zito, it wouldn't be a surprise to see the first shootout of the series. Let's take a look at one player from each team who will attempt to carry his team to victory with a big performance in Game 5.
Giants: Buster Posey
Buster Posey's struggles throughout the series have been a major reason the Giants haven't been able to keep pace with the red-hot Cardinals. He's just 2-for-14 in the series with no extra base hits, and San Francisco hasn't been able to make up for it.
Which team will win Game 5?
As the young catcher proved throughout the regular season, however, you can only keep him down for so long. It's only a matter of time before he starts crushing the ball again. And he knows tonight might be the last chance for him to prove that.
He's only faced Lynn three times in his career, but the one hit he got was a home run. He also hit nearly .500 against the Cardinals during the regular season. So odds are that his cold spell will come to an end soon rather than later.
While Posey has overcome a lot of challenges since his major leg injury last season, coming back in this series ranks right up there with the toughest. Expect him to lead the charge in Game 5.
Cardinals: Allen Craig
Few players were overlooked more during the regular season than Allen Craig. He hit .307 with 22 home runs and 92 runs batted in despite playing only 119 games. But most casual baseball fans probably didn't hear about him until recently.
Who will have a better game?
Like Posey, he's struggled in the series. He has just one hit in 12 at-bats and has driven in a single run. Getting to face Zito, who he's crushed with three homers in 10 ABs, should be exactly what the doctor ordered for the Cardinals slugger.
Perhaps the reason he's gotten so little attention is the fact that he didn't develop at the same rate as most players. He's already 28, not some 22-year-old wonderkid. But he's produced whenever given the chance, and that's all that matters.
He's the type of unsung hero St. Louis needs if its going to finish off the Giants. Look for him to get back on track on Friday night.
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