MLB Playoffs 2012: Keys for Washington to Take 2-1 Series Lead in Game 3
With the series tied 1-1 between the Cards and the Nats, the newbies to playoff baseball are looking to take that series lead as they play at home for Game 3 on Wednesday afternoon.
However, there are two vital components necessary for Washington to be victorious and remain hopeful with their eyes on the prize for that World Series championship title.
Edwin Jackson MUST Be Dynamite Against Carpenter and Crew
Both Nationals starting pitchers Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann had terrible starts in Game 1 and Game 2 of the series, so it is important for Jackson to not repeat the trend and come out of the gates dealing.
Gonzalez was only able to get through five innings of work, walking seven Cardinals batters, but fortunately only surrendered two runs (both earned). Zimmermann was only able to muster three innings on the hill, giving up seven hits and allowing five runs (all earned).
There is one thing that separates Edwin Jackson from his teammates who took the ball before him: He has been in this playoff position before. In fact, Jackson pitched last season for the team he is about to face off against—the 2011 World Series Champion St. Louis Cardinals.
This season, Jackson had pitched against the Cardinals twice, posting an ERA of 7.71, going 1-1 against them with hitters only batting .256 against the right-handed pitcher. His ERA is the second-highest among all of the teams he has faced this season, and his eight earned runs is also tied for fourth-most among the teams he pitched against.
He'll have a tough battle against him in the likes of Cardinals pitcher Chris Carpenter. The 37-year-old veteran is no stranger to postseason baseball, himself. Wednesday's match-up will mark his 16th career post-season start, posting a 9-2 record and a 3.05 ERA.
Two playoff veterans taking the hill will make Game 3 of the NLDS an exciting one for all to watch.
“No one has to be a hero,” Jackson said to media during a press conference Tuesday. “We just need to go out and play the game we know how to play.”
With that attitude, and his experience in these situations, the Nationals have the best candidate possible on the hill for a W on Wednesday.
Nationals MUST Be Relaxed and Take Advantage of Playing in Own Confines
Yeah, this final key to victory is dedicated to you, Bryce. He is not alone, though.
Staying relaxed and fighting those overanxious nerves is extremely important for this young ball club full of rookies with no postseason experience whatsoever.
In order for them to win Wednesday's game, it is important for them to continue on being that team they once were during the regular season. Fans both sitting in the stadium as well as at home on the couch have seen hints and sparks of those characteristics over the last two games, but never for too long.
There is no better time or opportunity then tomorrow night to get things back to how they once were. That goes to everyone in the lineup, lead-off to nine-hole.