Tagged: World Series

Every Team’s New Years Resolution

new-years-resolutionsIt’s that time of year again. That time when you realize your resolution to lose 30 pounds failed – in fact, we gained 30, didn’t we? When your declaration that your vampire novel would finally be finished and sent to the publisher, never got off the shelf.

Or that your dream of visiting Tahiti ended up being a shady motel for a weekend in Oakland on business.

Now that we’ve set a bleak mood, here’s the point: It’s New Years resolution time. We will all be making them, whether it’s private or public. And likewise, our favorite MLB teams must have one resolution they are aiming to accomplish in 2013.

Since we survived the apocalypse for now, here are Three Up, Three Down’s resolutions for every MLB team:

AL West:

Texas Rangers – Make a new friend – The Rangers either shopped in the wrong place or got screwed over for every player on their Christmas wish list. It’s not too late to snag Justin Upton from the D’Backs, though it gets less likely with each passing day. Texas should be going after the powerful right fielder hard in January.

Los Angeles Angels – Make a little money – Hear me out. Everyone knows that Arte Moreno and his Angels are filthy rich, but do they really have enough left over to re-work the decimated starting rotation? Trading for Jason Vargas was a nice touch, but will Vargas, Joe Blanton and Tommy Hanson really replace Zack Greinke, Dan Haren and Ervin Santana?

arte morenoOakland A’s – Move to a better ‘hood – Lew Wolff is fooling nobody. Because everyone and their mother knows that o.Co Coliseum is not a viable venue for a professional baseball team. Wolff claims he wants at least another half-decade in Oakland, but I’m calling his bluff. Their resolution should be to get OUT, and fast.

Seattle Mariners – Bulk up – No, not on the Bartolo Colon diet. The M’s took a good first step toward that workout regimen by trading for Kendrys Morales. But just because that punch-less offense now benches the bar doesn’t mean opponents will quiver with fear. The M’s need to go out and get some more power to legitimize those playoff hopes.

Houston Astros – Graduate – It’s no secret that the ‘Stros are a big work in progress. Moving to what was last year’s best division in baseball isn’t going to help things. While the other four teams in the division are – at the very least – grown men, Houston is struggling to graduate from a student to a serious businessman. Can they take that step in 2013?

AL Central:

Detroit Tigers – Learn to close – Take this as you may. There are thousands of frat boys in America resolving to improve in the same fashion next year. But I meant it as a nod to the Tigers getting handled in a sweep in the World Series in 2012. Adding Torii Hunter and bringing back Anibal Sanchez were big steps, but 2013 will be a failure without redemption.

Kansas City Royals – Become a “cool kid” – Oh, don’t pretend like you weren’t aspiring to be one your whole academic life. The Royals got some nice clothes and a haircut over the winter vacation, and are looking to butt their way into the “in” crowd. In baseball speak, that means they are aiming to be the new playoff darlings after adding much-needed pitching.

torii hunter

Cleveland Indians – Get along with Dad – The relationship wasn’t that bad before, but the Indians sure would like to impress new skipper Terry Francona in 2013. Cleveland is loaded with untapped potential, and they are hoping to play well for a full season to show their manager and fans that they are serious about this job.

Chicago White Sox – Prove everyone wrong – Wait, didn’t they do that last year? Sure, but people like me are still unconvinced. Their numbers were unexpectedly good, but that just makes the boss curious. Can they repeat? Do they actually deserve the promotion? The Chisox sure would like to move on up, but they will have a tough road.

Minnesota Twins – Get back on their feet – Plenty of people have to resolve to do this every year. Whether it be an economic downturn,  family problem, or injury, some years are just destined to be awful. The Twins know they won’t contend in 2013, but they can start the grueling process of getting back to a stable place.

AL East:

New York Yankees – Forgiveness – They better learn how, because former public enemy number one, Kevin Youkilis, will be manning third base for the Yanks in 2013. What this really means, is that if Youk bounces back and has a good year, the Yanks will forget all about their problems, and likely return to the postseason.

Boston Red Sox – Get cleaned up – This kind of resolution is usually reserved for a junkie of some kind, but it’ll fit nicely with the BoSox here. Boston got so far off track last season that they traded away millions of dollars in bad contracts for below-average prospects. Once they finish cutting out the rot, the Sox might contend again, even in this division.

Toronto Blue Jays – Build an empire – Such a wish is much more foreboding when applied to business in the real world, but opponents of the Jays should really be terrified of the changes this team has made. Their one and only goal with so many major acquisitions must be to not only make the playoffs, but to dominate everyone on the way.blue jays new players

Tampa Bay Rays – Try something crazy – I want to go skydiving, or hike a volcano, or start a band. The Rays, however, should do a whole different kind of crazy. Start Wil Myers in the big leagues, and see if it takes off. The kid is ready, and the lineup needs a boost. Anything remotely good from Myers may mean a playoff berth for Tampa.

Baltimore Orioles – Update the security system – In this day and age, you can’t be too careful with home security. I’m not talking a drawbridge and moat, but we’ve learned that the best teams are thriving because of good pitching staffs, to protect any other weaknesses they may have. Baltimore NEEDS a couple starting pitchers.

NL West:

Los Angeles Dodgers – Give to charity – I swear, this isn’t even a “rich ownership” joke. Okay, it kind of is. But with all the money this team has shelled out over the past ten or so months, why isn’t their most deserving commodity seeing any of it? They keep talking about an extension for Clayton Kershaw, but show the fans you mean business!

San Francisco Giants – Share with friends – Not the World Series title itself, although this Dodgers fan would appreciate them passing that honor along next season. I’m talking about the Giants sharing with their San Francisco cohort, the 49ers. As the new year starts, the 49ers will be in contention for a title of their own, and any advice would be great.

Arizona Diamondbacks  v San Diego PadresArizona Diamondbacks – Cut ties with a family member – Sometimes it’s just necessary. You hate to see anyone secede from the clan, but signing free agent outfielder Cody Ross makes it inevitable. Will it be Upton? Adam Eaton, Jason Kubel or Gerardo Parra? One will need to go, and it’s only a matter of time before they get dumped.

Colorado Rockies – Get health insurance – I know, I know. It’s not affordable in this country anymore. That’s one thing I won’t argue! But you have to think, given the regularity of major injuries to Colorado’s best players (Michael Cuddyer, Troy Tulowitzki, etc.) they would find any way to keep everyone off the DL.

San Diego Padres – Earn a promotion – Any opponents who take the Padres lightly in 2013 are foolish. With Chase Headley, Alexi Amarista and Yonder Alonso backing an underrated pitching staff, San Diego could be the A’s of 2013. They will have to fight and scrap their way to get there, though.

NL Central:

Cincinnati Reds – Follow through – This is a tough one for any given person to accomplish. We make all sorts of promises to ourselves that oftentimes go unfinished. The Reds have made a silent pact to be even better than they were last year, and finally achieve what they’ve been on the brink of for years now. They might be the team to beat in the NL next year.

St. Louis Cardinals – Rekindle the flame – In a non-romantic way, of course. One of the reasons the Cardinals were able to shock fans everywhere and make that insane title run in 2011 was the clutch gene. They weren’t missing it last year, but everything was just too inconsistent in St. Louis. If they rediscover their balance and passion, watch out everyone else.

2011 World Series Game 7 - Texas Rangers v St Louis Cardinals

Milwaukee Brewers – Be a good parent – Confused? Good. The Brewers almost clawed their way all the way back into a Wild Card slot in 2012 after a dismal, bullpen-failure-laden start to the year. With a loaded lineup and above average pitching staff, this should not happen again. So their resolution is to help tutor young shortstop Jean Segura into a star.

Pittsburgh Pirates – Improve their grades – The Pirates were so close to being eligible last year. Not for the playoffs, or any nonsense like that. But to finally getting over the hump. Pittsburgh needs a 2.0 to be eligible – in this case, they need 81 wins – to be taken seriously. Will they reach the .500 mark? A slight improvement in 2013 will do it!

Chicago Cubs – Change their image – There really is no changing an entire image built around loss and devastation, as Cubs fans have known all too well for over a century. But even a slight uptick in wins and a breakout season from one of their young stars (Brett Jackson, maybe?) will at least give people hope that they can change.

NL East:

Washington Nationals – Make up – Adam LaRoche needs to be back in D.C. for 2013. All he wants is one extra year on a contract he has more than earned. Without a doubt, he was the most consistent hitter on the best team in the league in 2012, and should get paid as such. My New Years advice to the Nats is to make up with him. Sign the guy for three years.

Atlanta Braves – Learn acceptance – I remember being taught in psychology that the standard grieving process goes Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. Braves fans and any good fan anywhere are surely coming out of the Depression stage right now (I know I am) and trying to transition into Acceptance at the fact that Chipper Jones has retired.

chipper farewell

Philadelphia Phillies – Become more patient – This is easier said than done for anyone, but it’s especially pertinent in Philadelphia. From an outsider’s perspective, I thought Philadelphia was caving into a sinkhole given the fans general reaction to last season’s debacle. Patience, Phillie fanatics. Your team is still very, very good. They are close, too.

New York Mets – Have more fun – I presume life as a Mets fan hasn’t been very enjoyable for the past three seasons – well, at least after the All-Star break. But they re-signed poster boy David Wright and gained some really solid prospects in the R.A. Dickey trade. Everything is headed in the right direction, Mets fans. Just calm down and have a little fun with it.

Miami Marlins – Make amends with people – Strange, you say? Au contraire! The smaller fan base that follows the Marlins are no doubt let down by the shocking fire sale that took place this winter. No more executive-speak, front office. Give it to the fans, and your best remaining player Giancarlo Stanton, straight. What is the plan? Honesty will take you far.

Tweet @3u3d with what you think your team’s New Years resolution should be, or Facebook Three Up, Three Down with your suggestion! Don’t forget to subscribe and follow the blog and podcast here.

– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)

Is Bruce Bochy a Hall of Fame Manager?

The inevitable question arose as soon as the San Francisco Giants stormed Sergio Romo on the mound in Detroit after clinching their second World Series title in three years: Is Giants manager Bruce Bochy a Hall of Fame manager?

It’s a damn good question. Bochy is one of the quietest, most respected baseball men in the game right now and has proven himself over and over again to be a brilliant tactician from the dugout. He has an uncanny way of getting the most out of any roster and any player.

Take the Giants for example. In 2010, that might have been the weakest team (as far as star power goes) that has won the World Series in a very long time. But Bochy managed to squeeze every last ounce of talent out of guys like Pat Burrell, Andres Torres, and Jonathan Sanchez.

And in 2012, he moved two-time Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum to the bullpen, started Barry Zito in Game 1, stuck with Hunter Pence amid postseason struggles, and gave a vote of confidence to struggling lefty Madison Bumgarner in an essential Game 2.

Every single move Bochy made in both World Series runs paid off in huge dividends – and after a while, you can’t truly believe they are all coincidences. Take it from a diehard Dodgers fan; Bruce Bochy is a Hall of Fame manager.

Let’s examine the case for Bochy based on comparison:

Manager A – .502 career win percentage in 18 years, 3 league pennants, 2 World Series titles

Manager B – .583 career win percentage in 17 years, 4 league pennants, 1 World Series title

Manager C – .526 career win percentage in 21 years, 4 league pennants, 2 World Series titles

As you can see, all three of the managers were at the job for about the same amount of time, and were within one of each other in pennants and World Series titles.

The difference is, Manager B and C are both retired and in the Hall of Fame. Manager A is Bochy, who has as many years as he wants left in San Francisco as a Major League Baseball manager. At age 57, it’s not out of the question to think Bochy will manage for at least another decade.

And the Giants are built to win – with that pitching staff, Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval anchoring the lineup, and a very good scouting department, you’d have to think it’ll be a little while before the Giants go back into re-building mode.

With that being said, Bochy’s record also has to take into account a couple of things. First, despite having the lowest winning percentage of the three managers above, he spent most of his career with a San Diego Padres team that was good for a few  seasons late in the 1990’s and…no, seriously. That’s it.

Manager B, Earl Weaver, was in charge of a loaded Baltimore Orioles team for 17 years, and had the benefit of a very talented roster. Manager C, Tommy Lasorda, also had a loaded Los Angeles Dodgers team during his career. Arguably, Lasorda’s worst playoff team was the 1988 title-winning club, but still very good overall.

I’m not trying to take anything away from Weaver or Lasorda, but the fact that Bochy has matched or exceeded them in number of pennants and World Series titles already is exceptionally impressive.

These days in Major League Baseball, fans are often too quick to jump onto the Hall of Fame bandwagon for players and coaches who were good for a number of years, great for a few years or just simply a fan favorite. I don’t think that is the case with Bochy though.

When all is said and done, I think Bruce Bochy will be enshrined as a Hall of Fame manager. Do you agree? Vote below!

If you like baseball, prove it! Follow @3u3d on Twitter and LIKE Three Up, Three Down on Facebook.

– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)

Episode 34 – Fan Cave Winners and Gold Gloves – Quite the Pair

The World Series has ended, the Fan Cave has ended, but we keep the news coming! Three Up, Three Down is back talking about the Giants, including a special visit from Fan Cave Winner, Ashley Chavez! We then talk about team options and the gold glove awards that should have been. Stay tuned for more baseball news!

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and subscribe to the podcast!

or use this link to download on iTunes

http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewPodcast?id=508049520

Twitter: @3U3D
Facebook: Three Up, Three Down

Enjoy!

Giant Success! San Francisco Wins the World Series!

Much to the chagrin of 3U3D’s Angelo Fileccia and Jeremy Dorn the San Francisco Giants completed their sweep of the Detroit Tigers to win their 2nd World Series title in three years.  Pablo Sandoval took home World Series MVP honors, in part to his three-homer game in game one.  The Giants went on a fantastic run, where they battled back from being down two games in both the National League Division Series and National League Championship series.

Here are some quick stat hits that I’ve seen so far.  A few from @ESPNStatsInfo on Twitter.

-Giants are 1st team to win two World Series in three years since the New York Yankees won three straight titles from 1998-2000 and the first NL team to accomplish the feat since the “Big Red Machine” Cincinnati Reds won back-to-back titles in 1975-76

-Giants are the 1st NL team to sweep to victory in the World Series since the 1990 Reds

-World Series MVP Pablo Sandoval is the first non-Yankee to have a .500 batting average and three home runs in a World Series.  Sandoval joins Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig (who did it twice), and Hideki Matsui as the only players to accomplish this.

-The Tigers have now lost seven straight World Series games, the longest streak by an AL team in MLB history.  They also join the 2007 Rockies and the 1990 Athletics to win their Championship Series with a sweep and then lose the World Series with a sweep

-Miguel Cabrera is the 1st Triple Crown winner to make the final out of his team’s season in the playoffs

-Giants pitcher Matt Cain’s 2012 season: In order, signed $127 million extention making him the highest-paid right-handed pitcher in history, pitched the 1st perfect game in Giants franchise history, became just the 6th Giants pitcher to start the All-Star Game, won the game five of the NLDS, won game seven of the NLCS, and started the title-clinching game four of the World Series.  I’d say he’s having a pretty good 2012.

We’ve reached that sad time where the MLB season is over.  BUT, 3U3D isn’t going anywhere!  Depending on what happens with Hurricane Sandy, we’ll have a new podcast this week and we hope to bring you a very special San Francisco Giants guest.  We’ll cover all the hot stove action in the offseason and how we think teams did with their signings on the blog and podcast.  Plus, it’s a special year where we have the World Baseball Classic!  The next qualifiers are just a short time away on November 15th!  Should be a great time and thanks for all of your support, October has been our best month ever!

-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)

Episode 33 – The World Series Is Upon Us

It’s World Series all day today as we talk about our predictions, look back on the Championship Series, discuss managerial moves, injuries, and even get a special guest to stop in and talk about new developments out at Petco Park in San Diego. I hope you’re all excited as we are to see who comes out on top in this year’s World Series.

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and subscribe to the podcast!

or use this link to download on iTunes

http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewPodcast?id=508049520

Twitter: @3U3D
Facebook: Three Up, Three Down

Enjoy!

Break it Down: Tigers vs. Giants, World Series Edition

After 2,430 regular season games and 31 postseason games, we’ve reached the World Series. The Tigers and Giants will do battle in the Fall Classic for the first time against each other. The Tigers are making their 1st appearance in the World Series since 2006 and are looking to bring Motown their first title since 1984. The Giants took home the Commissioner’s Trophy in 2010. Side note: can’t we get the World Series trophy a better name? There has to be someone in baseball history worthy of having the World Series trophy named after them, right? That’s a discussion for another time.

Here at 3U3D, one of us each predicted half of the World Series matchup, with Angelo correctly predicting his favorite team, the Tigers, making it. While I had the Giants losing to the Yankees in the Fall Classic, I’ll take half right.

Who will win the World Series though? Our full predictions are coming on Episode 33 of the podcast that will be up before game one, but I just can’t resist giving the full breakdown on the blog!

Starting Pitching

One of my main reasons for picking the Giants to go to the World Series in the preseason was their starting pitching depth. How can they match-up with the Tigers now though, with a rested Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Doug Fister, and even Anibal Sanchez. The Giants have been pushed to the brink in each of their two series. This results in Barry Zito having to start game one against the defending AL MVP, that has a 0.74 ERA in 26.1 innings this postseason. Not good for San Francisco. Madison Bumgarner has been roughed up during this playoffs, but wasn’t used in the Giants NLCS comeback. Bruce Bochy’s decision to start Bumgarner, the 2010 World Series hero, or Tim Lincecum may swing the series. Matt Cain should be good to go for games 3 and 7. The depth, quality, and rest of the Detroit’s starting pitching gives them the edge here.

Wednesday Update: Here are the starting pitcher matchup that were announced. Game 1: Verlander vs. Zito Game 2: Fister vs. Bumgarner Game 3: Sanchez vs. Vogelsong Game 4: Scherzer vs. Cain I’m shocked that Bruce Bochy isn’t starting Cain in game 3. As I said on this week’s podcast, I think the theory is that Bochy wanted to have his two best pitchers face the Tigers when they are at full strength with the DH in Detroit. They believe to have figured out Bumgarner’s problems, it makes it looks a little better and Lincecum is suited for the bullpen. Anibal Sanchez is fantastic in his career against the Giants, 3-1 with a 1.98 ERA and a 0.88 WHIP in 36.1 innings. That game 3 is going to be huge.

Advantage: Detroit Tigers

Bullpen

Jose Valverde’s implosion turning into Phil Coke’s success has been a strage turn for the Detroit bullpen. Coke was great against his former team in the ALCS, but that might have just been a culmination of the Yankees completely falling apart. Joaquin Benoit is Detroit’s best reliever and Octavio Dotel has become this bullpen playofs mercenary that goes from team to team. I don’t think it’s enough to best the Giants bullpen. Sergio Romo is arguably the best relief pitcher in the game, with a devastating slider. Jeremy Affeldt and Javier Lopez haven’t given up a run in thirteen appearances this postseason. This is one of San Francisco’s biggest strengths and I have a feeling the Tigers bullpen has one blow up in them.

Wednesday Update: Tim Lincecum will be in the bullpen for the Giants. Making this an even bigger advantage for San Francisco.

Advantage: San Francisco Giants


Catcher

Another great strength for the Giants. Buster Posey scuffled offensively in the NLCS, but called three straight great games behind the plate in the Giants comeback. Alex Avila has been terrible in postseason play hitting .127 in 63 playoff at-bats, including .227 in 2012. Gerald Laird will get at least one start. They don’t match-up with the probable NL MVP though.

Advantage: San Francisco Giants

First Base

This is the biggest plus for the Tigers. Brandon Belt has gotten better, including a home run in game seven of the NLCS, but how can he match one of the top first baseman in the game? Prince Fielder is only hitting .200 in the playoffs, but provides such a threat that it makes pitchers throw to Miguel Cabrera. If you pitch around the Triple Crown winner, it makes Fielder that much better.

Advantage: Detroit Tigers

Second Base

Is there a hotter hitter coming into the World Series than NLCS MVP Marco Scutaro? Scutaro hit an insane .500 and had a record SIX multi-hit games in the NLCS. Omar Infante has been a solid pickup for the Tigers and has a hit in 7 of 9 postseason games in 2012. These have both been positions of strength for the World Series teams, but I’m going to have to ride the hotter hand.

Advantage: San Francisco Giants

Shortstop

I think Brandon Crawford is going to be solid player in the future, but I can’t see him being any more than a player the Giants hope doesn’t hurt them here. He’s been solid defensively, especially that catch off Kyle Lohse in game seven. However, I love the postseason experience of Jhonny Peralta, who’s hitting .343 in the 2012 playoffs and is a career .297 postseason hitter. It gives the Tigers another piece in the arsenal that the Giants don’t have offensively.

Advantage: Detroit Tigers

Third Base

Yes I know, this is a no doubt advantage for the Tigers. Miguel Cabrera, right now, is the best hitter in the game. Pablo Sandoval, in my opinion, is the biggest key for the Giants offense. No pun intended. Sandoval is hitting .326 this postseason and .378 since game five of the NLDS. He needs to stay hot in order for the the Giants to have a chance hang around. Cabrera can put an final stamp on an epic season. Frank Robinson in 1966 was the last player to win the Triple Crown and the World Series in the same year, he was also the World Series MVP. This is the national stage that Cabrera deserves to shine.

Advantage: Detroit Tigers

Outfield

I’m so glad to have a “fat” young sibling back in our lives. I’ve already started calling him “Fat Delmon” the way I called his brother “Fat Dmitri” for numerous seasons. Nicknames aside, Young has provided a spark for the Tigers lineup with a hit in 7 of his last 8 games. Speaking of sparks, no player has provided one off the field like Hunter Pence for the Giants. His pregame speeches have become must-see TV, however on the field Pence has been missing hitting .179 in the NLCS. Could his bases-clearing “triple hit” be the turning point for him at the plate? Austin Jackson and Angel Pagan seem to be mirror images of each other, but I give the edge to Jackson primarily for his defense. Which leaves the 3rd outfielder spot, Gregor Blanco in left for the Giants against the pupu platter of Andy Dirks, Quintin Berry, and Avisail Garcia. I think Berry will be used more defensively, but I can’t really see any of the three providing much here. Naturally, this means they will provide something. In the grand scheme, I can’t decide which is better. Which means it’s time for the first…

Advantage: Push

Manager

Two old-school guys with a World Series ring on their hand and now their 3rd pennant on the mantle. I can’t think of a match-up on this board that is more even. Should be great to see how these to mix and match their teams.

Advantage: Push

Final Mapes Prediction: In my matchups the Tigers take it 4-3-2. The Giants have this thing where they like to be down two games and come back. I’ll have the Tigers taking the first two on the road with Verlander and Fister. Cain rallies back in game three to beat Scherzer. The Giants then win a wild game four, where the Tigers bullpen comes into play. Tigers take game five on the arm of Verlander again setting the Giants up down 3-2 and heading back home again. They repeat what they did in the NLCS, but in a more competitive game seven, where both teams pull out every stop. It’s going to be a great match-up, but ironically it’s Melky Cabrera’s All-Star Game MVP that gives the Giants home-field advantage and the World Series. Giants in 7. Enjoy the Fall Classic, should be a great one.

Wednesday Update: I still think the Giants take it in seven as they put together nine innings from Vogelsong, Cain, and the bullpen while pulling out all the stops in the final game. They still will be down 2-0 going to Motown and Bochy ends up looking smart saving his two best pitchers for the road. Verlander takes game five and locks down the best postseason pitcher in the league award, that he probably already has anyway.

-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)

Who Wins Game 7? Cardinals or Giants?

It’s the two most beautiful words not just in baseball, but in all of sports.  Game seven.  One game decides your playoff fate.  Everything you’ve put into the season comes down to one game where one pitch, one swing, one call, one stolen base, one error can be the difference.  The San Francisco Giants brought us to these two words with their 6-1 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday night.  Monday night at AT&T Park the Giants will look to come back from two games down for the 2nd straight series and advance.  Let’s try and figure out who will win.

Starting Pitcher: Kyle Lohse vs. Matt Cain

Have to start with the scheduled starters.  Both of these starters have arguably had a career year in 2012 and this game will define how they look back on this season.  Lohse has been great this postseason with a 1.96 ERA including giving up just one earned run over 5.2 innings in a victory over the Giants in game three.  Lohse was erratic though giving up 5 walks.  Lohse has has a history of not coming up big in huge games (see 2011 playoffs), but may have turned a new leaf in 2012.  Cain, on the other hand, has been “Bizarro Lohse.”  He was spectacular in big games previously (see 2010 playoffs), but has given up three runs in each start this postseason.  Cain got the win for San Francisco in game five against the Reds.  This one is close, but give me the previous elimination game winner.

Advantage: Giants

Bullpen

Both bullpens have been spectacular this series.  I’m sure everyone is going to be available for Monday’s game.  Jason Motte has become the big closer everyone thought he would be.  Sergio Romo has taken control of the closer role for the Giants and has the best slider in the game.  I think Mike Matheny left Chris Carpenter in game six through four innings to try and preserve his bullpen for a potential game seven.  St. Louis ended up using Shelby Miller for two innings, Fernando Salas for 1.1 innings, Marc Rzepczynski and Edward Mujica for 1/3 of an inning each.  Not on that list is Trevor Rosenthal and Jason Motte.  The Giants had to use their standard of Jeremy Affeldt (.2 IP), Santiago Casilla (.1 IP), and Romo (1 IP) to lock down a game seven.  I would not be surprised if we see Motte come in for a six-out save in game seven if needed.  This one is tough.

Slight Advantage: Cardinals

Lineup

The big question stemming from game six is will Matt Holliday be ready to play?  He may not be 100%, but if you think he’s missing this game I’ve got a giant bridge in San Francisco to sell you.  Buster Posey has been completely off offensively this series, hitting just .136.  Posey does have a flair for the deciding game dramatic as he hit a grand slam in game five of the NLDS against Cincinnati.  Marco Scutaro has been the hot bat for San Francisco hitting .458.  The other big question for the Cardinals lineup is with Holliday back, is there room for Matt Carpenter?  Carpenter owns Matt Cain it seems and had a home run off him in game three.  I think overall with Holliday, Yadier Molina, Allen Craig, Carlos Beltran, and David Freese this should be good for St. Louis.

Advantage: Cardinals

Manager: Mike Matheny vs. Bruce Bochy

I have nothing against Mike Matheny, but his team almost blew a 2-1 lead in the NLDS against the Nationals.  His team has now blown a 3-1 lead in the NLCS against the Giants.  It’s his first season.  It’s his first playoffs.  Give me the guy with the World Series ring on his hand, even though I’m sure Matheny is making a call to Tony LaRussa tonight.

Advantage: Giants

Random Stats!

The Giants have now won five straight eliminations games in these playoffs, only the 1985 Royals won more elimination games in a single postseason with six.  The Cardinals have won six straight elimination games, dating back to 2002, where they lost to….you guessed it!  The Giants.  Mike Matheny could become the first rookie manager to lead his team to the World Series since Bob Brenly got the Diamondbacks there in 2001.  The Giants have never won a game 7 as a team, they are 0-5, the worst mark in MLB history.  This is the first game seven in the NLCS since 2006, where the Cardinals beat the Mets.

I reached out to my fellow podcasters for their predictions.  Here’s what they have.

Jeremy Dorn: Cardinals 345, Giants 0.  No really, 5-3 St. Louis.  Lohse has been better than Cain this postseason and the Cards have never lost a game 7 right?

Brian Boynton: Giants 6-5

Kurt Peter: Giants 5-2

Angelo Feliccia: Lots of rain to help out my Tigers in the World Series.  I’ll take the Giants 4-0, but I could see Romo blowing this game though late.

Final Mapes Prediction: Buster Posey shows why he’s the MVP and gets another big hit for the Giants.  While Lohse is erratic once again forcing Matheny to go to the bullpen earlier than he’d like and is bailed out by Rosenthal, Mujica, and Motte.  It’ll be too late as Cain gets the job done over seven innings and turns the ball over to Affeldt and then Romo.  Then again, it’s baseball, nothing is EVER that simple.  Giants 4 Cardinals 2, enjoy game seven everybody!

-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)