Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Cards, Phils look to gain edge in Game 3
The National League Division Series shifts to St. Louis for a pivotal Game 3 between the Philadelphia Phillies and St. Louis Cardinals tonight.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, in a five-game Division Series that is tied after the first two games, the winner of Game 3 has gone on to win the series 19 of the 23 times since 1995, including 11 of the 12 series in the National League.
However, by winning Game 1, the Phillies have history on their side. In the Wild Card Era (since 1995), the Game 1 winner in the Division Series has won 73 percent of the time, including wins in 29 of the 32 NL series.
Inside the Series
Sunday night’s loss snapped a six-game winning streak in the Division Series for the Phillies. That was tied for the third-longest all-time and second-longest among NL teams. Since their World Series run in 2008, the Phillies are 10-3 in Division Series.
Despite their victory on Sunday, the Cardinals are still just 2-5 in their last seven Division Series games. However, the Redbirds have won six of their last eight postseason games at Busch Stadium and are an impressive 11-3 all-time in Division Series games in St. Louis.
On the Mound
Cole Hamels, the 2008 NLCS and World Series MVP, makes his 13th career postseason start. Hamels has had success in this situation before, when he threw a five-hit, nine-strikeout shutout in Game 3 of the NLDS last year against the Reds.
Hamels struggled down the stretch this year, with a 3.79 ERA in September that was his highest in any month. He allowed four runs in two of his final five starts, after doing so in just three of his first 26 starts.
Hamels had trouble with the longball last month, during which he allowed nine of his 19 homers. Luck may not have been on his side, though, as one of every five flyballs hit against him went over the fence in September; in the first five months, he gave up a homer on just one of every 15 flyballs he allowed.
Jaime Garcia gets the nod for the Cardinals, making his first career postseason start. Garcia was much more effective at home this season, with an ERA in St. Louis that was more than two runs better than on the road.
Garcia shut down the Phillies in his two starts against them this season, allowing just one earned run in 15 innings while holding the Phillies batters to a sub-.200 average. Garcia owns a 1.20 ERA in six career games against Philly, the lowest ERA among active pitchers versus the team (min. four starts).
Matchups to Watch
Albert Pujols hasn’t been able to solve Hamels during his career. He is 4-for-23 (.174) in their matchups, although two of his four hits are homers. That’s his lowest batting average vs. any active pitcher (min. 20 at-bats).
Garcia has been able to neutralize the current Phillies hitters, holding them to a .186 batting average and .547 OPS in his career. Of note, lefties Ryan Howard and Chase Utley are a combined 2-18 (.111) while switch-hitters Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino are a combined 3-20 (.150).