History is for and against the St. Louis Cardinals as they face the Giants in Game 7 in San Francisco on Monday night. On the bright side: The Cards have been good in NLCS Game 7s in their past, winning them in 2006 and 2004.
But boding well for the Giants is that over the past 35 postseasons, 14 previous teams have won a Game 6 at home to force a Game 7.
Thirteen of those 14 teams then also won Game 7. (The only exception, though, is a team that lost to none other than the Cardinals — Carlos Beltran’s 2006 Mets.). And the Giants are -132 favorites on Vegassportsbetting.com. The winner of this game hosts Detroit for Game 1 of the World Series on Wednesday.
The Cardinals’ defense has let them down. Chris Carpenter allowed three unearned runs in Sunday’s 6-1 loss. The 10 unearned runs allowed by the Cardinals over the series is the most in NLCS history. Two teams have allowed nine.
Allen Craig’s two-out single in the sixth drove home Carlos Beltran for the Cardinals’ only run against Ryan Vogelsong, who struck out a career-high nine in seven innings of four-hit ball. St. Louis had gone 15 innings without scoring after lefty Barry Zito and Co. held it scoreless in Game 5.
The only other time the Cardinals opened a 3-1 lead in the NLCS came in 1996, when they lost to the Atlanta Braves in seven games. San Francisco, which never faced an elimination game in winning the 2010 World Series title, is 5-0 when pushed to the edge this postseason. St. Louis has won its last six games when facing elimination.
The Giants have been around for 130 seasons now. And they’ve never once won a Game 7. Not in New York. Not in California. Not anywhere in between. Their 0-5 record in Game 7s is the worst of any franchise in existence.
The Cardinals, on the other hand, have won 11 Game 7s — one of them just one October ago in a World Series you won’t have to think hard to recall. Their .733 winning percentage in Game 7s (11-4) is the best of all time, among teams that have played at least three of those games.
Giants ace Matt Cain will take the mound for Game 7 in San Francisco on Monday night opposite Kyle Lohse in a rematch of a rain-delayed Game 3, which the Cardinals won in St. Louis. There’s also a rare rainy forecast for San Francisco for the clincher.
This postseason, Cain hasn’t repeated his perfect-game performance of a few months back, nor has he continued his October 2010 run of allowing no earned runs. But each of his outings this postseason — Games 1 and 5 of the NLDS with the Reds and Game 3 of this NLCS — have been a little bit better than the one that came before.
Lohse has been nothing short of the Cards’ most consistent pitcher in 2012. He certainly didn’t dominate the Giants in Game 3, giving up seven hits and walking five in 5 2/3 innings, but his ability to pitch around traffic and escape jams was instrumental in the Cards earning an early advantage in this series.
The Cardinals played without Matt Holliday in Sunday’s Game 6 loss, and they may be left to play without their starting left fielder and No. 3 hitter for the winner-take-all finale.
Concerned by how Holliday was compensating for lower back pain while taking his swings in batting practice on Sunday, manager Mike Matheny, against Holliday’s wishes, made a late lineup change on Sunday. Holliday was removed, opening a spot for Matt Carpenter to be added.