The Cardinals were certainly the favorite to beat Barry Zito and the Giants at home in Game 5, but now have to travel to San Francisco. Molly Knight writes that this added playoff pressure won't faze the Cardinals. Meanwhile, Wayne Drehs asks what we've learned about the Cardinals and Giants.
Even though they're trailing in the series, the Giants have to be feeling pretty good. On paper, they arguably rate the edge with both starting pitching matchups -- Ryan Vogelsong over Chris Carpenter in Game 6, and Matt Cain over Kyle Lohse in Game 7. Of course, as we learned with Zito, "on paper" doesn't mean a whole lot. Vogelsong has looked good in his two playoff starts but Carpenter has a long history of playoff success. Cain hasn't had a stellar postseason so far, allowing three runs in each of his three starts and going more than six innings just once. And let's not discount the excellent season Lohse had.
Prediction? Carpenter and the St. Louis bullpen come up big and wrap it up in Game 6.
Chris Quick looks back at Zito's amazing Friday night and his career with the Giants. How good was Zito? His Game Score of 72 tied for his fourth-best of the season, remarkable considering he was facing a lineup that crushes left-handed pitching.
Scott Spratt of Baseball Info Solutions looks at the much-maligned Tigers defense on ESPN Insider. Scott points out that several recent World Series participants have been below-average defensive clubs, although the Tigers would have the worst Defensive Runs Saved total since the 2003 Yankees. One key question for Jim Leyland: Does he play Delmon Young in left field when the Tigers are in the National League stadium?
Jason Linden wraps up the Reds' season with a review of preseason projections.
Did the Rangers lose their way in 2012?
Maybe it's time for the Indians to change their name!
Now, for some post-apocalyptic coverage of the Yankees' fall:
Jonah Keri at Grantland looks at what the Yankees could do for 2013, and maybe why they won't work to get below the $189 payroll tax threshold: "The biggest reason for the Yankees to go full ham is that they're swimming in cash. Forbes estimates that the Yanks reaped $439 million in revenue last year, 42 percent more than the next-highest team, the Red Sox. The owners' effective wealth might be significantly higher, given that the YES Network (partly owned by the Yankees) is a private and wildly profitable enterprise, the franchise's market value is surging every year, and baseball's national TV deal is about to drop an additional $26 million per year into every team's coffers. The Steinbrenners are perfectly entitled to pocket massive profits and cap their spending at whatever level they choose, of course."
On ESPN Insider, Buster Olney examines the Yankees' possible next moves: "The Yankees will restructure their outfield in some fashion. Brett Gardner will be back, and, although Curtis Granderson was an incredible bust in the postseason, with 16 strikeouts and three hits in 30 at-bats, he has hit 84 homers and driven in 225 runs the past two seasons combined. He's 31 years old; it's a no-brainer for the Yankees to pick up his $13 million option for next season because he still represents a good value in the market. The Yankees almost certainly will turn the page on Nick Swisher, whose repeated postseason struggles have become a problem for an organization that defines itself by postseason success."
Wally Matthews of ESPNNewYork says heads would have rolled under the old Steinbrenner regime: "The first thing he would do is berate his older son, Hank, for negotiating what is now indisputably the worst contract in the history of professional sports, the deal that extended Alex Rodriguez for 10 more years and a minimum of $275 million."
Take 'em or trash 'em? ESPNNewYork asks which players the Yankees should keep or dump.
Joe Posnanski seems ready to bury this Yankees team: "Suddenly, you see questions and concerns everywhere and no sure things anywhere ... but, really, it isn't sudden at all. Everyone could see that the Yankees were getting old. Everyone could see that sooner or later the bill was going to come due on their huge win-now, pay later contracts. ... The most amazing part of this team, I think, is not that they collapsed at the end, but that they managed to squeeze one more great season out of this team first."