It was quite a damper on the day for a Nationals Park-record 45,017 fans witnessing the first major league post-season game in the nation’s capital in 79 years.
The Cardinals won 10 fewer games than the majors-best Nationals this season and finished second in the NL Central, sneaking into the post-season as the league’s second wild-card. However, the Cardinals become a different bunch in the high-pressure playoffs.
Pitcher Carpenter is one reason, even though even he did not expect to be pitching this year, when he encountered problems during spring training and needed a radical operation in July to correct a nerve problem.
“To go from not being able to compete, and not only compete, but help your team, to be able to be in this situation,” Carpenter said, “it’s pretty cool.”
The Nationals’ hitters are struggling mightily. They have scored a total of just seven runs in the playoffs and went zero-for-eight with runners in scoring position and left 11 men on base.
In yesterday’s Game 4 at Washington, Kyle Lohse was to start for St Louis. Ross Detwiler was to pitch for Washington, who are sticking to their long-stated plan of keeping ace Stephen Strasburg on the sideline for the entire playoffs to protect him from overwork on a surgically repaired throwing arm.
San Francisco, who needed extra innings to win Game 3 and stay alive, squared their series against the Cincinnati Reds with an 8-3 victory. In Game 5 yesterday, the Giants have a shot at the unique achievement of winning three straight road games to overturn a 2-0 deficit in a five-game series.
In Cincinnati, San Francisco beat the Reds 8-3 to level the series at 2-2. In yesterday’s decider, the Giants were to attempt to become the first team to win three straight road games to win a five-game series after trailing 2-0.
Angel Pagan led off the game for the Giants with a home run, Gregor Blanco hit a two-run shot in the second and Pablo Sandoval also had a two-run homer in the seventh to complete a strong performance by the visitors.
San Francisco’s Tim Lincecum, the two-time Cy Young winner relegated to the bullpen, also delivered. He entered in the fourth with the Giants ahead 3-2, struck out six and gave up just one run in 4-1/3 innings, and allowed his team to pull away.
The Reds still have not won a home playoff game since 1995. They had hoped to start ace Johnny Cueto, but had to drop him off the roster a few hours before Wednesday’s first pitch because he was still bothered by a strained muscle in his right side. He will not be available if Cincinnati wins Game 5 and reaches the NL championship series.
Mike Leake, who replaced Cueto, had a rough time.
The Giants were to start Game 5 against Cincinnati with Matt Cain, who lost the series opener and has yet to beat the Reds in three tries this season.