A capsule look at Cardinals-Giants series

A capsule look at Cardinals-Giants series

A look at the best-of-seven National League championship series between the St. Louis Cardinals and the San Francisco Giants:


Schedule: (All times EDT)

Game 1, Sunday, at San Francisco (8:15 p.m.); Game 2, Monday, at San Francisco (8:07 p.m.); Game 3, Wednesday, at St. Louis (4:07 p.m.); Game 4, Thursday, at St. Louis (8:07 p.m.); x-Game 5, Friday, at St. Louis (8:07 p.m.); x-Game 6, Sunday, at San Francisco (4:45 p.m.); x-Game 7, Monday, at San Francisco (8:07 p.m.). (All games on Fox).

x-if necessary.


Season Series:

Tied, 3-all.


Projected Lineups (regular season statistics):

Cardinals: CF Jon Jay (.305, 4 HRs, 40 RBIs, 18 SBs, .373 OBP), RF Carlos Beltran (.269, 32, 97), LF Matt Holliday (.295, 27, 102), 1B Allen Craig (.307, 22, 92), C Yadier Molina (.315, 22, 76), 3B David Freese (.293, 20, 79), 2B Daniel Descalso (.227, 4, 26), SS Pete Kozma (.333, 2, 14).

Giants: CF Angel Pagan (.288, 8, 56, 29 SBs, 15 3Bs), 2B Marco Scutaro (.306, 7, 74 for Giants and Rockies), 3B Pablo Sandoval (.283, 12, 63), C Buster Posey (.336, 24, 103, 39 2Bs), RF Hunter Pence (.253, 24, 104 for Giants and Phillies), 1B Brandon Belt (.275, 7, 56), LF Gregor Blanco (.244, 5, 34, 26 SBs) or Xavier Nady (.184, 4, 13 for Giants and Nationals), SS Brandon Crawford (.248, 4, 45).


Projected Rotations:

Cardinals: RH Lance Lynn (18-7, 3.78 ERA), RH Chris Carpenter (0-2, 3.71 in 3 starts after shoulder surgery), RH Kyle Lohse (16-3, 2.86), RH Adam Wainwright (14-13, 3.94).

Giants: LH Madison Bumgarner (16-11, 3.37, 191 Ks), RH Ryan Vogelsong (14-9, 3.37 in 31 starts), RH Matt Cain (16-5, 2.79, 193 Ks, 219 1-3 IP, first perfect game in franchise history June 13 vs. Astros), RH Tim Lincecum (10-15, 5.18, 186 IP, 190 Ks, matched career high with 17 wild pitches) or LH Barry Zito (15-8, 4.15, 184 1-3 IP; won final 5 starts and 7 straight decisions).



Cardinals: RH Jason Motte (4-5, 2.75, 42/49 saves, 86K, 71 1-3 IP), RH Mitchell Boggs (4-1, 2.21, 78 games), RH Edward Mujica (0-3, 3.03), RH Fernando Salas (1-4, 4.30), RH Joe Kelly (5-7, 3.53), LH Marc Rzepczynski (1-3, 4.27), RH Trevor Rosenthal (0-2, 2.78, 100 mph fastball), RH Shelby Miller (1-0, 1.32, 6 games).

Giants: RH Sergio Romo (4-2, 1.79, 14/15 saves, .185 BA against), LH Javier Lopez (3-0, 2.50, 7 saves, .191 BA vs. LH), RH Santiago Casilla (7-6, 2.84, 25/31 saves), LH Jeremy Affeldt (1-2, 2.70, 3 saves), RH George Kontos (2-1, 2.47 ERA), RH Guillermo Mota (0-1, 5.23).



The past two World Series champions meet to see who gets a chance to win this year's crown. The Giants wiped out Texas in 2011, the Cards edged the Rangers last year. ... These teams have met twice in the NLCS. The Cardinals overcame a power show by Jeffrey Leonard to outlast SF in seven games in 1987, then the Giants triumphed in five games in 2002 and sent Barry Bonds to his only World Series. ... The teams split both series this year - a two-game set in San Francisco in May and a four-gamer at Busch Stadium in August. Marco Scutaro hit a grand slam and had 7 RBIs for the Giants in a 15-0 romp, the Cards' worst home shutout loss since 1961. ... Posey went 10 for 21 with two HRs and six RBIs in the six games. ... Pagan had a .500 OBP against the Cardinals. ... Beltran is 7 for 14 with six walks, three doubles and one homer off Lincecum. ... There's some crossover between the teams. Cardinals manager Mike Matheny closed his playing days with the Giants. The Gold Glove catcher spent two seasons with San Francisco, and ended his career because of concussion symptoms. ... Beltran spent the last half of 2011 with the Giants, then signed with St. Louis as a free agent.


Big Picture:

Cardinals: These Cards sure are a high-flying act, aren't they? Down to their last strike, they rallied for four runs in the ninth inning to beat Washington 9-7 in the deciding Game 5 of the NL division series. If the comeback seemed somewhat familiar, there's good reason: Just like last year in Game 6 vs. Texas, the Cardinals trailed 7-5 in the ninth, had two outs, two on and two strikes on Freese before saving their season. They advanced this year minus the Rally Squirrel that fired up their fans last fall. ... St. Louis returns to the NLCS for the seventh time since the start of the 2000 season, moving on despite missing injured All-Stars SS Rafael Furcal and 1B Lance Berkman. ... The Cardinals will be minus LH Jaime Garcia against the Giants. He left after two innings vs. Washington because of a strained rotator cuff and was taken off the roster, replaced by rookie RH Shelby Miller. ... The Cardinals were the last team to reach the playoffs this year, clinching the second NL wild-card spot on the next-to-last day of the season. ... St. Louis seems to relish this wild-card role. The Cards won the World Series last year in the same position, then saw slugger Albert Pujols leave as a free agent and saw manager Tony La Russa retire. ... Like the Giants with Posey, the Cardinals have an NL MVP candidate at catcher. Molina had a career season that justified the five-year, $75 million contract extension he signed in spring training. On track for a fifth straight Gold Glove, Molina has an arm that discourages runners from even trying to steal. He had personal bests at the plate, too, finishing fourth in the league in hitting. ... They wound up nine games behind Cincinnati in the NL Central, but their October pedigree is showing through. St. Louis won at Atlanta 6-3 in the wild-card playoff, helped by a disputed infield-fly call. In the NLDS, Carpenter came back from an injured-interrupted season to post his first victory since winning Game 7 of last year's World Series. Carpenter is 10-2 lifetime in the postsea son and has won five straight decisions.

Giants: The NL West champion Giants became the ninth team to overcome a 2-0 deficit in a best-of-five postseason series and first to do it by winning the final three games on the road, rallying past Cincinnati. ... Posey, who missed most of last season after serious leg and ankle injuries from a frightening collision at home plate with the Marlins' Scott Cousins on May 25, returned every bit the player he was during his 2010 NL Rookie of the Year campaign. He won the NL batting title and is a top contender for the MVP. He made a big impact against the Reds when he hit two homers, including a grand slam in the decisive Game 5 win. ... Manager Bruce Bochy's team rode pitching to the title in 2010 but the lineup this year is much more dangerous, especially on the road. The Giants were the second highest-scoring team on the road in the regular season, averaging 5.1 runs per game. ... San Francisco became the first team since the 1987 Cardinals to make the playoffs with the fewest homers in the majors, hitting just 103. ... In April, the Giants lost All-Star closer and 2010 major league saves leader Brian Wilson. In August, they lost All-Star game MVP Melky Cabrera to 50-game suspension for a positive testosterone test. Cabrera (.346) was reinstated by Major League Baseball on Friday, but the Giants don't plan to put him on the playoff roster. ... Just as he did two years ago during that World Series championship run, GM Brian Sabean brought in key pieces to fill key needs: Scutaro at second and Pence in right field. They're not quite the castoffs and misfits of 2010 - Cody Ross, Pat Burrell - but more a team that overcame the absence of switch-hitting Sandoval because of two DL stints and moved forward seemingly unfazed when Cabrera got suspended. ... Sandoval made up for his playoff flop in 2010, hitting .333 with a homer and three RBIs in the first round. He appeared in only six postseason games and one in the World Series in 2010 - batting .176 (3 for 17) with two RBIs and three strikeouts. ... Giants rookie Hector Sanchez might catch, with Posey moving to first base, when Lincecum or Zito starts.


Watch For:

- Timmy Time. Lincecum looked nothing like a two-time Cy Young winner when he posted the highest ERA in the National League in the regular season. That performance kept him out of the rotation in the first round, but he excelled in his new role as a reliever. He allowed one run, three hits and no walks in 6 1-3 innings, getting the win in Game 4. He could move back into the rotation in the NLCS after Zito lasted just 2 2-3 innings in his one start.

- Triples Alley. The Giants hit just 31 homers during the regular season at AT&T Park - six fewer than Barry Bonds hit himself there during his record-setting 2001 season. They made up for the lack of longballs with a major league-leading 57, including 29 at home with the spacious right-center field.

- Carp in Control. It seemed to be a foregone conclusion that Chris Carpenter wouldn't pitch in 2012, especially after the 37-year-old had a procedure in July to relieve nerve pressure in his pitching shoulder that caused numbness to the entire right side of his body. Winless in three starts in September, he pitched shutout ball to win his start in the NLDS. It was his first victory since Game 7 of the World Series last year, and re-established him as an October ace.

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Jamaal Charles headlines a group of Redskins running back tryouts

USA Today Sports

Jamaal Charles headlines a group of Redskins running back tryouts

Jamaal Charles used to be among the best running backs in the NFL, and maybe the Redskins hope to turn back the clock. 

Washington is dealing with a number of injuries at the running back spot, and to get through two more preseason games, the team is bringing in a number of veteran runners for tryouts. Charles is the biggest name coming in for a test drive with the Redskins, as ESPN reported. Former Giants RB Orleans Darkwa is also getting a tryout, per multiple reports. 

How did Washington get to the point where the team needs to add more backfield options in mid-August?

First, Derrius Guice injured his knee in the preseason opener. He will miss the season. 

In the second preseason game, Samaje Perine, Byron Marshall and rookie Martez Carter got hurt. Perine should be back in a week or as he suffered only a sprained ankle. Marshall could miss a month, making a roster spot flimsy, and Carter was waived due to his injury. 

That means the Burgundy and Gold only have Rob Kelley, Kapri Bibbs and Chris Thompson active for practice, and remember, Thompson is working back from a broken leg last November. He hasn't played yet in the preseason, and might not go at all until Week 1 in Arizona.

Add all of that together and the team was forced to bring in veteran options, if for nothing else than to get through the remaining two preseason games.

Back to Charles.

From 2009 to 2014, Charles put up absurd numbers. He approached 2,000 total yards from scrimmage in both 2013 and 2010, and put up more than 1,700 total yards in 2012. It's worth adding that Charles found great success with Alex Smith when both were playing in Kansas City. Just saying. He was undeniably great, and probably won thousands of people thousands of dollars as a fantasy football MVP.

That time appears to be over though.

In the last three seasons, injuries have robbed Charles of his burst and elusiveness. Last year, he couldn't break through in the Denver backfield despite being healthy for 14 games. He rushed for just under 300 yards. 

Redskins fans will have unfortunate memories of Darkwa.

In an ugly Week 17 loss last season in New York, he busted a 75-yard touchdown run on the first play from scrimmage and finished the game with 154 yards. Last season was the best of his career for Darkwa, he ran for more than 750 yards and averaged 4.4 yards-per-carry. He's only 26 years old and, coincidentally, played college football at Tulane with Rob Kelley

By adding Guice in the second round of the NFL Draft this spring, the Redskins thought they addressed their need for a talent boost at the RB position. With Guice out for the year, the position looks about the same as it did in 2017. 

Adding Charles and Darkwa seem unlikely to change that, at least significantly. And that's if either of the veteran runners even make the 90-man roster. 





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Need to Know: A good sign for the Redskins’ running game?

Need to Know: A good sign for the Redskins’ running game?

Here is what you need to know on Sunday, August 19, five days before the Washington Redskins host the Broncos in their third preseason game. 

Talking points

A year ago, there was tremendous concern about the Redskins’ rushing game. In their first two preseason games in 2017 when the games were the Redskins’ first-team offense against the other team’s starters on defense, Washington gained 13 yards on 13 carries. In the first halves of those games, which were played mostly with players on both sides who would end up making the roster the total was 21 attempts for 20 yards. 

At the time, the company line was to downplay the problems. 

“I’m just not worried,” said Trent Williams.

“It’s going to take time and it’s going to take plus-one, plus-two, negative-one, then you get a plus-eight. And things to pop. It’s attrition. Nothing’s going to happen just because you want it to.”

As we now know, the Redskins rushing game never really got going. Certainly, injuries to backs Rob Kelley and Chris Thompson and to the entire offensive line contributed heavily to their No. 27 ranking in rushing yards. But a look at the preseason could indicate that the building blocks for an effective rushing game just weren’t in place. 

Things are looking better this year. In two preseason games, the Redskins have rushed for 216 yards. In the first halves of the games, they have 31 attempts for 109 yards. That’s not a great average (3.5 yards per carry) but it is a vast improvement on the sub-one yard per carrying average they had through two games last year. 

Let’s not get carried away here. Preseason numbers aren’t rock-solid indicators by any stretch and even if they were we are looking at a small sample size. Still, the preseason stats are what we have to look at right now. We will see how things develop.  

Bureau of statistics

In 2017 the Redskins averaged 123 rushing yards per game in their first five games. In their last 11 games, they averaged 76 per game. 

On the record

Jay Gruden on the returns of RBs Byron Marshall and Samaje Perine from ankle injuries: "There are no reports really, we'll just wait and see. Every injury is different, and we'll play it by ear and see how long it takes . . . The injury report will come out Week 1 on - when is it, Wednesday? And there you have it."

Comment: Yes, this really was Gruden and not Bill Belichick. The whole organization has been tighter with injury information in general this year. We’re getting a lot of descriptions like “lower leg” rather than ankle or toe. If that’s the way they want to do business that’s fine but be advised as a fan that you are not going to get much information. 

The agenda

Today: Practice at Redskins Park 1:50; Jay Gruden news conference and player availability after practice, approx. 3:00

Upcoming: Preseason Broncos @ Redskins (Aug. 24) 5 days; Final cut (Sept. 1) 13 days; Season opener @ Cardinals (Sept. 9) 21 days

In case you missed it

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, and follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCS and on Instagram @RichTandler