This has a feel similar to last year, no? Cards on the road. Facing the team with the best record in baseball. A dominant pitcher going for both sides.
It may not be 2011 in Philadelphia with Chris Carpenter squaring off versus Roy Halladay. But 2012 in Washington with Adam Wainwright battling Gio Gonzalez isn’t far off.
It really makes sense for this series to go five games. I mean, seriously. Did you expect these Redbirds to do anything different than push it to the brink? Nothing ever is easy for these guys. They squeaked into the postseason by snagging the second and final wild card spot. They took a one game winner-or-go-home playoff in Atlanta.
Gio Gonzalez has absolutely owned the Redbirds since coming over from Oakland. He threw a complete game, five hit shutout against them in late August. Then, despite spotting the Cards SEVEN walks in game one of this division series, the ‘birds offense couldn’t manage more than just two runs.
That speaks to how nasty his stuff is. He can put that many guys on base over five innings and the Cardinals still couldn’t get more than a couple across home plate. And that was immediately before games two and three where those same bats scored a combined 20 runs on 27 hits off the Nationals.
This decisive game five absolutely has the feel of a pitchers duel. With this crowd pumped up (Adam Wainwright said last night Nationals Park was as loud as he had ever heard a place get after Jayson Werth’s walk off home run) and Gonzalez on the mound, Wainwright is going to need to have his “A” stuff.
He’ll have to match Gonzalez step-for-step, pitch-for-pitch. And really not make any mistakes.
Wainwright went 5.2 innings while giving up just one run on six hits in game one versus these Nats. He also struck out 10.
There were two other instances where Waino started against Washington.
September 28th: 6 IP, 5 H, R, BB, 5 K
August 31: 2.2 IP, 9 H, 6 R, 3 BB, 3K
So that’s a pair of good outings and one really really bad one. The discouraging theme with that is the fact the two solid starts were in the friendly confines of Busch Stadium. The rough one? Nationals Park.
Where’s today’s game being played? Nationals Park.
But if there’s one thing we know about Adam Wainwright and what he’s accomplished in his career, it’s this. The guy does not get frightened in big games. He’s been there before. He’s closed out a World Series. He’s taken the ball in the most pressurized situations that this sport can throw at you.
His counterpart today, Gio Gonzalez, clearly let the pressure of the playoffs get to him by walking seven in game one. It would be a mistake to assume Gonzalez will be as wild today. But hasn’t been around the block as many times as Wainwright.
That’s a factor.
First pitch is at 7:37 pm St. Louis time. We’ll have all our answers then.