16 October 2011

2011 MLB Playoff Updates 3

Congratulations to the 2011 National League Champion St. Louis Cardinals!

Instead of making one hyper-long post about the ALCS and the NLCS, my Update #2 post was exclusively about the ALCS and this one is about the NLCS between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Milwaukee Brewers. Much like the Texas-Detroit series, which the Texas Rangers won on Saturday night, this series was also an epic battle between two very evenly-matched teams.

Game one in Milwaukee's Miller Park was a back-and-forth affair until the Brew Crew put things away with a six-run fifth inning thanks to a two-run double from Ryan Braun, who also homered in the game, and homers from Prince Fielder and Yuniesky Betancourt. Jamie Garcia went just four innings for the Cardinals, giving up six of their nine runs, as the Brewers won the game 9-6.

In game two, the Cardinals got mad, then solved the mysteries of Miller Park. Albert Pujols led the team with three doubles and a line-drive home run to left, and the 6-7-8 hitters in the lineup went 6-for-14 with three runs scored and five RBI. Rickie Weeks and Prince Fielder homered in all of the Brewers three runs, but the 12-3 victory by the Cardinals could not be overcome.

Taking the series to St. Louis and the beautiful Busch Stadium, where game three saw the Redbirds put up four runs in the first inning thanks to a trifecta of doubles by Jon Jay, Albert Pujols, and David Freese. An RBI single in the second by Yuniesky Betancourt followed by a sac fly to right by Yovani Gallardo, and then a Mark Kotsay homer in the third put three runs on the board for Milwaukee, but both bullpens performed spotless work in the 6th through 9th innings. The Cardinals held on to beat the Brewers 4-3. 

Five doubles by the Brewers in the middle innings of game four gave them a four-to-two advantage as Randy Wolf went seven innings and struck out six, giving up two runs. Francisco Rodriguez and John Axford closed out the game as the Cardinals were limited to eight hits. David Freese picked up another two hits for the Cards, but it wasn't enough as they lost 4-2.

With the Series tied, the ALCS became just a best-of-three situation, and the Cardinals made the most of it in game five. Taking advantage of the worst defensive play in at least a decade (errors by Jerry Hairston, Rickie Weeks, Yuniesky Betancourt, and Johnny Estrada) including Weeks' third error this series, the Cardinals picked up five runs - just two earned - off of Brewers started Zack Greinke in 5 2/3 innings. Pitching for the second time in the championship series, Jaime Garcia went into the fifth inning and gave up just a single run. The Cardinals bullpen held the lead, giving up only two hits and one walk over the final 4 1/3 innings of the game as the Cardinals took the hammer in the 7-1 victory.

Game six was a must-win situation for the Brewers, but they failed to capitalize. The Cardinals were off to a rocket-fast start in inning number one as David Freese hit a three-run home run to put them up 4-0. A Rafael Furcal solo homer in the second, an Albert Pujols homer in the third, and a two-run single by Allen Craig gave the Cardinals added insurance. Another error by Jerry Hairston didn't help matters, and the Cardinals won the game - and the National League Championship - by a final score of 12-6.

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