Shaky defense puts Cardinals in 3-1 series hole
SAN FRANCISCO — An inability to do the so-called little things have put the Cardinals in a big hole.
They weren’t charged with any errors, but some shaky Cardinals defense played a big part in the Giants’ 6-4 victory Wednesday night that gave them a 3-1 lead in the NL Championship Series. This came one day after the Giants scored the winning run on a walk-off error by Randy Choate.
In the decisive sixth inning in Game 4, two misplays by first baseman Matt Adams allowed the Giants to score the tying and go-ahead runs with just one hit.
With runners on second and third and one out, the Cardinals brought the defense in and reliever Marco Gonzales got a grounder hit to Adams. But the burly first baseman’s footwork was off when he fielded the ball and he did not put nearly enough on his throw home, allowing Juan Perez to score the tying run.
Three pitches later, with Brandon Crawford on third and Gregor Blanco on first, another grounder came to Adams and he stepped on first but made a weak throw to second that did not come close to doubling up Blanco.
When Adams threw to second, Crawford raced home to score the go-ahead run without Jhonny Peralta, who took Adams’ throw at second, having time to attempt a throw home. Buster Posey then singled in Blanco to pad San Francisco’s lead.
The Cardinals started strong with leadoff doubles in each of the first three innings that helped them take a 4-3 lead and chase Ryan Vogelsong after three innings. They put at least one runner on in every other inning except the fourth but were unable to come through with timely hits.
Adam Wainwright, who has been dealing with a sore right arm, will try to send the series back to St. Louis when he starts against Giants ace Madison Bumgarner on Thursday night.
— Kolten Wong. Have a series, rookie. In his latest breakout performance, Wong had a no-doubt homer, a double and two runs and made a couple of highlight plays on defense. In a stretch of seven plate appearances over two-plus games, he went walk-off homer, double, two-run triple, out, out, double and homer.
— Matt Carpenter. He got the Cardinals off to a strong start with a ground hit to right field that he turned into a leadoff double with good instincts and hustle. When the grounder deflected off second baseman Joe Panik’s glove and slowed on the way to right field, Carpenter never hesitated rounding first and beat the throw with a headfirst slide. He came around to score on a single by Adams, giving the Cardinals just their second first-inning run in eight postseason games.
— Matt Holliday. After going 1 for 13 in the first three games, he doubled and singled twice in four at-bats in Game 4. Holliday, however, struck out looking to end the game with Jon Jay, who had reached base three more times, on first.
— Shelby’s start. In his second postseason start, he didn’t locate his fastball or throw his cutter for strikes and his curveball was not much better. As a result, he did not fool the Giants very often. Miller lasted only 3 2/3 innings — and that might have been two-thirds of an inning too long — and gave up three runs, six hits and two walks. In the first, he threw seven pitches and the Giants hit four of them hard. But they scored only one run thanks in part to Wong’s defense. Wong took a high underhand toss from Peralta as he was coming across second base and managed to get enough on the throw to throw out Pablo Sandoval to complete an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play.
— Double plays. The Cardinals put runners on in four of the first five innings and scored in three of them. Still, they could have scored more if they had not grounded into three double plays. In the first and third, Peralta followed an Adams single by hitting into a 5-4-3. In the fifth, Adams hit a hard grounder up the middle that shortstop Crawford was positioned perfectly for and converted into an inning-ending double play.
— Yadier Molina. He tested his strained left oblique with some swings before batting practice but after a few cuts, the session was called. "It didn’t feel real great, as expected," Matheny said. Matheny still did not rule out the possibility that Molina could play defense. "Still continuing to feel good … doing the things he needs to behind the plate."