(BaseballStL) — Why Randy Choate is allowed to face three batters – including a righty– in the bottom of the 10th of Game 3 of the NLCS is something Cardinals fans are going to want to know the answer to. Choate’s entire season has been based on facing just one batter and one batter only.
His numbers against righties are dismal (.385 opponent batting average in the regular season).
Yet after walking the leadoff man in the 10th, Brandon Crawford, he remained on the mound to allow a single to left off the bat of Juan Perez. Then, when Gregor Blanco tries to give the Cards an out by bunting, Choate fires it two feet wide to first base, sending Crawford round to score from second.
That’s how the Cardinals lost Game 3 in San Francisco.
The Cards have been here before. They lost Game 1 in disappointing fashion by not getting a good start from Adam Wainwright as well as having several defensive miscues, so it’s not like this club hasn’t adjusted to misfires. They did it against LA in the division series.
Seemingly, they’ve done it about a million times in the last three postseasons.
But they cannot rest on the past. Wednesday’s Game 4 is a must-win just like Game 2 was at Busch Stadium. The club cannot weather going down 3-1 with Madison Bumgarner on the mound in his home park in Game, especially when you’re not sure what you’re going to get out of Wainwright.
Winning three straight games in the postseason isn’t impossible. It’s been done before by many teams. It’s even been done with a club facing elimination. But the likelihood of a miracle would retreat far over the horizon if the Birds can’t win Game 4.
Thus, Wednesday behind Shelby Miller is crucial. He’s been dynamite over the last month and the Cards will need every last good pitch they can get from him. They can’t afford for him to make too many mistakes to the likes of Buster Posey or Pablo Sandoval because they will undoubtedly make him pay.
Throw strikes, throw them down in the zone and don’t try and be a hero by striking everyone out. That should be Miller’s mantra heading into Game 4 at AT&T Park.
The Cardinals season just might depend on it.