Redskins

Giants lead Cardinals 7-0 in Game 7 of NLCS

201210221911691083649-p2.jpeg

Giants lead Cardinals 7-0 in Game 7 of NLCS

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) Hunter Pence doubled home two runs with a slicing, broken-bat hit during a five-run third inning that chased Kyle Lohse, and the San Francisco Giants took a 7-0 lead over the St. Louis Cardinals through three innings in the decisive Game 7 of the NL championship series Monday night.

Pablo Sandoval's run-scoring groundout in the first gave him an RBI in five straight games, matching a Giants postseason record. Home run king Barry Bonds set the mark in 2002.

Matt Cain worked out of a jam behind a strong defensive effort and extended San Francisco's lead with a two-out single in the second. A Giants pitcher has driven in a run in three straight games. During that same span, St. Louis has scored one run as a team.

Lohse left after he walked Buster Posey to load the bases with no outs in the third. Pence then connected on a pitch from reliever Joe Kelly that broke his bat. The ball hit his bat twice more creating an awkward spin that fooled shortstop Pete Kozma, who first broke to the right. Kozma could not recover to field the slicing ball and it went for a double. A third run scored when center fielder Jon Jay misplayed the ball for an error.

The hit highlighted a run-scoring blitz that put the Cardinals in a major hole and whipped an orange towel-twirling crowd at AT&T Park into a frenzy.

The winner of the game between the past two World Series champions will host the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday night.

After some light rain during batting practice, sunshine broke through and a rainbow formed beyond the outfield, providing another scenic San Francisco backdrop.

And once again, the Giants started strong.

Cain struck out Jay on four pitches before Carlos Beltran blooped a single to center to open the first inning. Beltran stole second with two outs - moving to 11 for 11 for his career in the postseason, the most steals ever without getting caught in a postseason career - but Cain got Allen Craig to pop out to third.

In the bottom of the inning, Pagan and Marco Scutaro singled to put runners on first and third. Pagan scored on Sandoval's groundout to give the Giants a 1-0 lead, although San Francisco squandered chances for more when Lohse quickly retired Posey and Pence.

The team that had scored first is 5-1 in the series. The one loss came in Game 3, when St. Louis rallied to beat the Giants 3-1 with Cain and Lohse on the mound.

Cain, San Francisco's ace who threw a perfect game against Houston earlier this season, was hardly at his dominating best - but his defense helped clean up his mistakes.

Yadier Molina singled and David Freese walked leading off the second. Molina moved to third when first baseman Brandon Belt made a diving stop on Daniel Descalso's grounder, throwing from his knees to get Freese at second. After Cain struck out Kozma, shortstop Brandon Crawford leaped to catch Lohse's soft liner to keep St. Louis scoreless.

Cain singled to center to score Gregor Blanco from second in the bottoming of the inning. Lohse cut off the relay throw and fans roared to their feet in celebration.

Crawford added another RBI in the third inning when Kozma fielded a weak grounder and threw home late, and Pagan grounded into a fielder's choice to put San Francisco ahead 7-0.

Lohse left after allowing six hits, walking one and striking out one.

About the only thing St. Louis could rely on was history - at least recent history, anyway. The Cardinals overcame a 6-0 deficit to stun the Washington Nationals in the decisive Game 5 of the division series.

Only this time, the stakes were even higher - and the deficit even larger.

The Giants were going for their 20th pennant while the Cardinals were chasing their 19th. In winner-take-all Game 7s, the Cardinals are 11-4 and the Giants are 0-5.

Since 1976, 14 home teams have won a Game 6 to force Game 7, with 13 of the 14 going on to win Game 7, according to STATS LLC. The lone loser was the 2006 Mets against the Cardinals. Beltran struck out looking with the bases loaded on Adam Wainwright's curveball for the final out in New York's 3-1 loss.

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.

---

Antonio Gonzalez can be reached at: www.twitter.com/agonzalezAP

Quick Links

Josh Norman wants to play 'early Santa,' will give away Redskins tickets

Josh Norman wants to play 'early Santa,' will give away Redskins tickets

Josh Norman caused quite a stir with his comments Sunday about the atmosphere at FedEx Field, and the Redskins cornerback made it clear he plans to do his part in making sure the stadium is packed for Sunday's game against the Texans. 

Norman told reporters Thursday he's going to be giving away "40 or 50" free tickets for the Houston game, online and perhaps even in person.

"Yes, I will be giving out free tickets," he said. "I'll be doing it on my socials as well, I think I'll probably post tonight or something about it."

"Who knows, you may see me coming out and being an early Santa somewhere in the mall or something, just handing out tickets."

And if you are one of the lucky fans who gets a ticket from "Santa Norman," he has specific instructions on how you should behave at Sunday's game:

"Whoever get(s) them, we want them loud and just obnoxious. Just really obnoxious."

Norman joins several Redskins players who have promised to give away tickets to the Texans game.

It may be November, but the Christmas spirit is alive and well at Redskins Park. 

MORE REDSKINS NEWS:

Quick Links

Who is Mike Elias?

usatsi_11324196.jpg
USA Today Sports Images

Who is Mike Elias?

Where to begin after a team loses 115 games? That’s the main question settling into Mike Elias’ future when he takes over the Baltimore Orioles' beached ship.

Multiple reports have pegged Elias as the Orioles new general manager. He’s yet another front office member of the Houston Astros to be plucked by an outside organization for a larger role. He’s young, comes from an analytics-fueled front office and walks into a job where there only seems to be one direction to go following last season. 

Elias also has local ties. The 36-year-old is a graduate of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria. He went to Yale where he worked four seasons as a left-handed pitcher. Elias jumped into scouting for the St. Louis Cardinals directly after graduation.

Similar to Nationals manager Mike Rizzo, Elias moved up from a scouting baseline to a prominent decision-maker in the front office. Elias was ported from St. Louis to Houston when the Astros hired Jeff Luhnow to become general manager in 2011. The duo, and rest of the front office took over a team that was about to embark on three consecutive seasons with 100 losses or more. The organization became notable around the league for its fervent reworking of approach and willingness to absorb losses to vault to the top of the annual draft.

In 2012, the Astros selected Carlos Correa No. 1 overall. Elias, then a special assistant to the general manager, has received a large amount of the credit for taking a shortstop who became Rookie of the Year and an All-Star. Nine of the Astros’ 14 selections that year made it to the major leagues. Not all with the Astros. Not all with a large degree of success. But, they made it.

Houston selected burgeoning All-Star Alex Bregman with the No. 2 overall pick in 2015. 

However, the Astros’ high-end draft history wasn’t perfect with Luhnow and Elias in place. They selected Stanford starter Mark Appel with the No. 1 overall pick in 2013. Just 27, he is out of baseball after never making it past Triple A. The Astros took Brady Aiken with the top overall pick in 2014. He never signed. 

Yet, the organization continued to turn. Bregman developed into a star. Jose Altuve won the MVP award, Lance McCullers, also part of the 2012 class, became an All-Star. Four years after Luhnow arrived to reverse the organization’s course, the Astros had a winning season and reached the postseason. Two years later they won the World Series.

Hiring Elias signals the Orioles, long viewed as one of the stodgier organizations in baseball, are shifting to the modern era. Baltimore was known more for its reticence to embrace analytics as opposed to its use of the information. The move may also calm the ongoing rotation of the front office bosses. Elias will be the organization’s fourth general manager since the Nationals started playing baseball again in the District in 2005. 

Among Elias’ initial tasks is finding a new manager. The Orioles fired Buck Showalter after 8 ½ seasons. Three of them led to the postseason. But, the mess of last season forced a change.

They also need to hit in the draft. The Orioles hold the 2019 top overall pick.

Elias will try to conjure a way to resuscitate the Orioles while fighting the expansive cash flow of the New York Yankees and World Series champion Boston Red Sox within the division. 

He’s been part of turnarounds before. This one would fully be in his hands.