ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
at SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
National League Championship Series Game 7 – Series tied 3-3
First pitch: Monday, 8:05 p.m. EDT
Line: San Francisco -140, St. Louis +130, Total: 7
Although the Cardinals once held a 3-1 lead in the NLCS, the Giants have battled back to tie the series up, with the seventh and deciding game occurring Monday night in San Francisco.
Matt Cain has been generally spectacular this year for the Giants, compiling a 17-7 record, 2.93 ERA and 1.05 WHIP. But he has not looked like himself in the 2012 playoffs—despite averaging 6.8 innings per start during the season, he has averaged just 5.8 during the playoffs with a 4.67 ERA and 1.21 WHIP in three starts. He has had a tough time keeping the ball in the park, giving up four homers with at least one long ball in each of those three outings. He has never pitched well against the Cardinals in his career with a 2-4 record, 4.83 ERA and 1.37 WHIP. Kyle Lohse is also amid a stellar season with a 2.79 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and 18-3 record. Unlike Cain, however, he has gotten better in the postseason—in his three starts thus far, he has a 2-0 record and 1.96 ERA. That includes outpitching Cain earlier in this series, a 3-1 win for the Cardinals in Game 3. That give Lohse three straight wins over San Francisco, where he carries a 1.90 ERA. Take ST. LOUIS and the money to advance to the World Series.
This rare four-star FoxSheets trend also backs the Cardinals:
Play On - Road underdogs with a money line of +100 to +150 (ST. LOUIS) - revenging 2 straight losses where team scored 2 or less runs, a good team (54% to 62%) playing a team with a winning record. (41-18 over the last 5 seasons.) (69.5%, +32 units. Rating = 4*).
A major concern for the Cardinals entering this game is the health of outfielder Matt Holiday (tightness in lower back), who appears unlikely to play. But that could be a blessing in disguise with the star posting a subpar .597 OPS so far this playoffs. He has particularly struggled against Cain in his career against—In 50 career plate appearances he is hitting just .186. Matt Carpenter has proven to be a stellar outfield sub this postseason with a .983 OPS in his 14 at-bats. That could help Lohse, who is 4-2 with a 3.46 ERA and 1.41 WHIP in six career starts versus the Giants. Overall, Lohse is 4-0 in his past six starts dating back to September 18, posting a 2.65 ERA and 0.99 WHIP. Play on him, especially as he is supported by a bullpen with a 2.22 ERA in the playoffs this year.
The Giants have won the past two games off their ability to silence the Cardinals bats, keeping them to a total of one run and 12 hits. But with Cain's struggles, that may be difficult to do, so a lot will fall on the offense that has tallied 11 runs over the past two games, but scores just 3.8 runs per game in their home ballpark. Cain has been tremendous at home this year though, going 8-4 with a 2.18 ERA and 0.92 WHIP. And even though Cain hasn't been pitching particularly late into games lately, that should not be a problem for San Francisco, which has benefited from an extremely strong bullpen this postseason. Giants relievers have a 2.79 ERA and 0.96 WHIP in these playoffs. Cain has also shown the form in his career to be a great postseason pitcher—in his career he has a 2.09 ERA and 1.06 WHIP in six postseason starts after not allowing an earned run in 21.1 innings in the 2010 playoffs. Still, play against him as the favorite here.