ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
at SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
National League Championship Series Game 6 – Cardinals lead series 3-2
First pitch: Sunday, 7:35 p.m. EDT
Line: San Francisco -125, St. Louis +115, Total: 6.5
The NLCS shifts back to San Francisco on Sunday night when the Cardinals try to close out the Giants in Game 6.
San Francisco was able to keep its season alive with a 5-0 victory in Game 5 thanks to 7.2 shutout innings from Barry Zito. Now it's Ryan Vogelsong's turn to save his team's season, coming off a stellar NLCS Game 2 in which he allowed just one run in seven innings in a 7-1 victory. St. Louis will try to return to the World Series for the fourth time in nine years, but will need Chris Carpenter to pitch much better than he did in Game 2, when he allowed five runs (2 ER) on six hits in just four innings at AT&T Park. That improved the Giants record to 49-36 (.576) in their home park this year, while dropping the Cardinals to 42-45 on the road. St. Louis is now 1-4 in Carpenter's five starts this season, while Vogelsong has been lights-out during a current five-start unbeaten streak (3-0, 0.93 ERA). Take SAN FRANCISCO as the slight favorite to send this series to a seventh game.
This telling FoxSheets trend also backs Vogelsong and the Giants:
VOGELSONG is 12-3 (80.0%, +10.4 Units) against the money line after giving up 1 or less earned runs last outing this season. (Team's Record). The average score was VOGELSONG 4.8, OPPONENT 3.2 - (Rating = 2*).
Carpenter (1-3, 3.04 ERA, 1.35 WHIP in 2012) was battered in Game 2, but he has been one of the better postseason pitchers in the history of the game, going 10-3 with a 2.94 ERA and 1.27 WHIP in 17 playoff starts. He's also been solid against San Francisco in his career, going 4-2 with a 3.63 ERA and 1.37 WHIP, leading the Cardinals to a 6-3 record in these nine starts. However, only three of these outings have been in San Francisco, where he has a mediocre 4.32 ERA and 1.44 WHIP. Speaking of the road, four of Carpenter's five starts in 2012 have been away from home, where he is 1-2 with a 2.61 ERA and 1.31 WHIP. But considering that Carpenter is averaging just 5.3 innings per start in 2012, having yet to throw more than six innings, the St. Louis bullpen will have to come up big on Sunday. Cardinals relievers have been pretty horrible on the road this year, going 10-18 with a 4.24 ERA and 1.34 WHIP. However, they have been very strong in the NLCS with a 2.25 ERA and 0.90 WHIP over 20 innings.
Vogelsong (15-9, 3.26 ERA, 1.22 WHIP in 2012) has allowed exactly one run in each of his past five starts, piling up 24 strikeouts in 29 innings. He had never pitched in the postseason until this year, where he is 1-0 with a 1.50 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and nine strikeouts in these dozen innings. Like most of his teammates, Vogelsong loves pitching at spacious AT&T Park, going 8-4 with a 2.75 ERA and 1.17 WHIP in 16 home starts, leading his team to an 11-5 record. His career numbers against St. Louis are terrible (2-4, 5.75 ERA, 1.42 WHIP), but the majority of those seven starts came in 2004. In the past two seasons, he is 2-0 with an 0.95 ERA (2 ER in 19 IP) and 1.05 WHIP. That includes throwing seven shutout innings at St. Louis on Aug. 8 in a 15-0 blowout win. Vogelsong averages just 6.1 innings per start, but his bullpen has been strong at home all season, going 11-8 with a 3.13 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and 24 saves in 30 chances. Giants relievers have also had a tremendous NLCS, posting a 2.70 ERA and 0.75 WHIP with 13 strikeouts in 13.1 innings.