Everyone will leave game one of the NLCS raving over Anibal Sanchez, and he does deserve that credit. However, Cardinals fans have their own pitcher to be happy about as well. Miles Mikolas went 6 strong innings, giving up only 1 run and striking out 7. As for Sanchez, he went 7.2 and only gave up 1 hit. If you were looking for a high scoring affair this wasn’t the game for you. However, if you’re like me, you loved seeing this pitching dual.
While Sanchez delivered a true gem, it seemed like everyone behind him was seeing the ball off of the bat great. In the 8th inning, Tommy Edman came up to bat. He hit what was a laser of a shot, only for Ryan Zimmerman to make a diving catch to keep the no hitter in tact. Two batters later, Jose Martinez came up to pinch-hit. He was the only one to get a hit off of Sanchez. The Cardinals’ defense seemed to be the opposite of the Nationals tonight. It started with Paul Dejong pulling Paul Goldschmidt off the bag, forcing him to tag the runner. The true defensive concern came in the outfield in the form of Dexter Fowler. Some blame can be laid at Marcell Ozuna as well. Three shots were all hit into the left-center gap. On all 3 hits, it looked like Fowler was just jogging over. Off of those 3 hits were 2 doubles and a triple, had they made better plays, it could have saved both runs by the Nationals.
How to Win Game 2
The obvious answer here is to get to the Max Scherzer early. However, that simple answer has many layers to it. Starting out, the team cannot have a leadoff hitter, like Dexter Fowler, who’s batting .077 in the postseason. The “offensive” third baseman, Matt Carpenter, is batting .125. The solution is not a popular opinion with most fans. Randy Arozarena should get a chance to start in right. Edman coming into play third will help defensively, and Arozarenas’s speed will help the outfield. Harrison Bader should also be given a shot at starting in center field. How will this help? The Cardinals give up too many singles that turn into extra-base hits. It can be accredited to Fowler’s lack of hustle. Ozuna is batting .360 with a 1.127 OPS, so the Cardinals can sacrifice defense when he’s the focal point of the offense.
What to Expect in Game 2
Hopefully first-year manager Mike Schildt learned from Game 1. Adam Wainwright should be able to pick up right where he left off against Atlanta. Max Scherzer could be an issue for a struggling St. Louis offense, however. Many people have pointed to Game 5 in Atlanta and said to themselves, ” why can’t they do that again?” The top of the order did not see the ball that well in game one. Kolten Wong hasn’t looked great since his return. Paul Dejong isn’t contributing a ton either as he’s only batting .190. The Cardinals need more then Goldy, Ozuna, Yadi and Edman to get on base. Tonight’s game saw the Cardinals strand runners on 3rd base twice, which won’t help them win this series. For the Cardinals to win this series, they need to string together hits early against Scherzer Saturday. It’s a tough task but one they are up for.
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