Home Record: St. Louis 50-31; Washington 50-32 Away Record: St. Louis 39-43; Washington 48-33 (St. Louis leads best-of-five series, 2-1)
When the 2012 MLB playoffs began, the St. Louis Cardinals, the defending World Series champions, were the longest shot in the National League because they had the worst record of the five NL playoff teams and weren’t even supposed to beat unbeatable Kris Medlen in Atlanta in the one-game playoff.
Yet here the Cards are one victory Thursday afternoon from knocking out the NL East champion Washington Nationals , the team with the best record in baseball this season. After dropping the opener, St. Louis has won two straight vs. the Nats. Wednesday it was an 8-0 whitewash in the first playoff game in D.C. in nearly 80 years.
Chris Carpenter, last year’s Cards ace, started for just the fourth time all season Wednesday due to surgery to remove a rib to cure numbness on his right side. He pitched scoreless ball into the sixth inning and rookie Pete Kozma delivered a three-run homer to quite the sold-out crowd. The Cardinals’ 8-0 shutout is their 2nd-largest in a postseason game. The largest is a 11-0 win over the Tigers in Game 7 of the 1934 World Series.
Washington just isn’t hitting. Shortstop Ian Desmond went 3-for-4 Wednesday and is 7-for-12 in the series. But the Nats have just seven total runs in the three games. They left 11 men on base in Game 3. Rookie Bryce Harper went 0 for 5, dropping to 1 for 15.
And now the pitching matchup Thursday seems to favor St. Louis – bet on the game at WagerWeb.com. It starts Kyle Lohse, who led the majors in winning percentage this season by going 16-3. Lohse was on the mound for that wild-card win in Atlanta. He still is just is 1-4 with a 5.12 ERA in his postseason career. Lohse pitched twice vs. the Nats this season and was 0-0 with a 6.94 ERA.
Washington counters with Ross Detwiler (10-8, 3.48). He is pitching after a 12-day layoff and struggled in his final two starts of the regular season. Detwiler faced the Cards on Sept. 3 and allowed seven runs in 2.1 innings. The lefty pitched much better at home (8-2, 2.59 ERA) than on the road (2-6, 4.38 ERA) this year.
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