The St. Louis Cardinals were kept out of the postseason in part thanks to their own ineptitude but also thanks to the efforts and even-year luck of the San Francisco Giants. Now we Cardinal fans root for the Giants, right?
The San Francisco Giants had the best record in baseball for the first half of the season but faltered after the All-Star break. That is until their efforts were necessary to prevent the encroaching St. Louis Cardinals from usurping them into October baseball.
In the last weeks of the season, I cheered for every single team facing the Giants as the St. Louis Cardinals needed the Giants to at least lose (and then for us to win). The Cardinals did not win enough and the Giants did not lose enough. Subsequently, the Giants are playing in the postseason.
Much less are they playing, but they (the Giants) managed to defeat the resilient Mets in the play-in Wild Card game. To their credit, the Giants had sent the mastermind of postseason baseball, Madison Bumgarner, to the mound. If you need a reminder of his greatness, Bumgarner owns a career postseason ERA of 0.70.
Bumgarner is a postseason god and showed this prowess by defeating the mythical god who pitches for the Mets, Noah Syndergaard. This Wild Card game was a clash of the titans with the Giants’ postseason god tackling the Mets’ Thor. In the end, as we know now, the Giants towered over the Mets.
Now the Giants, the ones who kept our St. Louis Cardinals out of postseason, must face our arch rivals, the media darling Cubs. Let me state this unequivocally, I as a Cardinals fan cannot in good consciousness cheer for the Cubs. In that light, then, I want nothing more than for the even-year-luck Giants to defeat the baby bears.
Game one of the NLDS took place last night. The Giants sent Johnny Cueto to the mound to face Jon Lester. Cueto, who likely should have been a St. Louis Cardinals pitcher had Mozeliak taken the risk, owns a career postseason ERA of 2.85. Lester, who should never be a St. Louis Cardinals (I just don’t like him), owns a career postseason ERA of 2.85.
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The mirrored ERAs were certainly on display as the game was kept to a low-hitting affair. The Giants showed they could hold their own against the Cubs who the media have already crowned with this season’s World Series title. That said, Bruce Bochy was out-managed by the Cubs’ mastermind, Joe Maddon.
The best example of this out-managing came in the top of the third inning with Connor Gillaspie on first. Maddon loves to swap his infielders around in different shifts and enjoys switching Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo such that the game must stop for a swapping of gloves. This is a momentum thief and he uses this to his advantage.
The thievery was on display here in the top of the third as Rizzo played a very short infield between second and first almost side-by-side with the pitcher. Javier Baez played first in the shift and Rizzo provided cover and confusion. An on-the-nose throw from David Ross caught Gillaspie too far off first for a pick-off.
Bochy should be ashamed by allowing this debacle to out-manage him. I have great respect for Bochy but he was simply out-smarted here. Fast-forward to later in the game when Cueto hurled his 109th pitch facing Baez. Baez capitalized on Cueto’s exhaustion to the tune of the only run of the ballgame– the deciding winning run.
Bochy managed in this moment from the book of Mike Matheny. Bochy showed his allegiance to Cueto which isn’t a bad move frequently. Moreover, Bruce Bochy managed based on what the numbers on paper suggested which is exactly how Matheny manages. Paper-style managing failed Bochy last night as it completely failed Matheny in 2016.
So let’s cut to the chase, I don’t really care if the Giants run the table, but I do want them to defeat the Cubs. To that tune, dearest Bochy, please manage like the great we know you to be and please win. All of Cardinals Nation is on your side and rooting for you. Since you “defeated” the St. Louis Cardinals, please defeat the Cubs!