The San Francisco Giants finally won a game at home in the playoffs, defeating the St. Louis Cardinals 7-1 to even their National League Championship Series at one game apiece.
The Giants lost the first two games of their NL Division Series against the Reds at home before sweeping three games in Cincinnati to advance. They lost the opening game of the NL Championship Series 6-4 to the Cardinals in San Francisco before breaking their home losing skid last night.
“This was a big game,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said in a news conference. “We lost two in the last series and that’s the last thing we wanted to do was go to St. Louis down two games.”
Game 3 of the best-of-seven Major League Baseball playoff series is set for tomorrow at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. In the American League, the Detroit Tigers have a 2-0 lead and their best pitcher on the mound as they host the New York Yankees tonight in Game 3.
The four teams remaining in the postseason all ranked among the upper third of the 30 MLB clubs in season-opening payrolls, according to USA Today’s annual survey. The Yankees were first at $198 million, with the Tigers fifth at $132 million. The Giants were eighth at $118 million, followed by the Cardinals at ninth with a $110 million payroll on opening day.
The Tigers entered today as the even-money favorites to win the World Series, according to the Las Vegas Hotel’s Super Book, meaning a winning $100 bet on Detroit would yield a $100 profit. The Cardinals had odds of 13-5, followed by the Giants at 18-5 and the Yankees at 12-1.
San Francisco’s Angel Pagan led off the first inning with a home run and the Giants added four runs in the fourth on a two-run single by Marco Scutaro and two St. Louis errors. Ryan Theriot had a two-run single in the eighth.
Ryan Vogelsong allowed one run on four hits in seven innings to get the victory for San Francisco.
“He set a good tempo and kept our guys off balance,” St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said in a news conference. “Hitting is timing, and pitching is breaking up hitters’ timing.”
Vogelsong, 35, doubled leading off the sixth inning to become the first Giants pitcher with a double in a postseason game since Jack Bentley in the 1923 World Series.
“It was probably more luck than skill,” Vogelsong told reporters. “He threw it in my swing path, I think, that’s all I can say about that. But it’s pretty cool to get into the record books there.”
Carlos Beltran, who finished the 2011 season with the Giants before moving to St. Louis as a free agent, hit two doubles to bring his batting average in the 2012 playoffs to .429.
The Cardinals got a run-scoring double by starting pitcher Chris Carpenter in the second inning. Carpenter took the loss, allowing five runs in four innings.
Carpenter now is 5-for-15 at the plate over the past two postseasons. By comparison, the Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez is 5-for-41 during that same span.
The Yankees are mired in a batting slump and will be facing Justin Verlander, the 2011 American League Most Valuable Player and Cy Young Award winner as the league’s best pitcher. Verlander, 29, has allowed one run in 16 innings while winning both his starts in this year’s playoffs.
New York is missing Derek Jeter, 38, its leading hitter during the regular season, who broke his left ankle in the first game of the series against Detroit. The Yankees have scored in one of 21 innings in two losses so far to the Tigers.
The Yankees’ postseason batting average is .205, with Rodriguez, Curtis Granderson and Nick Swisher hitting a combined .133 with 34 strikeouts in 75 at-bats. Robinson Cano, who hit .615 (24-for-39) over the final nine games of the regular season, is hitless in his past 26 at-bats, the longest such streak in a single postseason in MLB history.
“It is a challenge for our pitchers,” said Phil Hughes, the Yankees’ Game 3 starter. “We’ll have to do a really good job and have the confidence that we will score at least a few runs, and hopefully a bunch, and turn this thing around.”