The last two games of the 2012 NLCS have had the trappings of deja vu. In Game 5, Cardinals starter Lance Lynn hit an invisible wall in the 4th inning and – as in Game 1 of the series – had to be relieved before recording 12 outs. In Game 6, the St. Louis defense again failed Chris Carpenter and while he gave up 5 runs (just like in Game 2), only 2 of them were earned (again, just like in Game 2). The pitching lines from first start to second start have a facsimile quality: not a perfect recreation, but pretty damn similar, especially for Carpenter. Take a look:
Game 1:3.2 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 3 K
Game 5: 3.2 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 6 K (considering Lynn’s own error caused all of his runs in Game 5 to be unearned evens out that particular discrepancy for me)
Game 2: 4.0 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 1 K
Game 6: 4.0 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 6 K
Over on the Giants side, Ryan Vogelsong had a little deja vu of his own in last night’s Game 6. Like Carpenter and Lynn, he struck out more hitters in his second outing this series, but otherwise the numbers were nearly identical:
Game 2: 7.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K
Game 6: 7.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 9 K
Cardinals fans are hoping that deja vu holds serve tonight in Game 7 and Kyle Lohse continues to perform the way he has throughout the 2012 regular season and postseason (and specific to this series, in Game 3 of the NLCS):
Lohse in the 2012 postseason: 18.1 IP, 15 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 7 BB, 13 K
Giants fans, meanwhile, are hoping for Matt Cain to defy deja vu, rebound from a tough Game 3 loss and lead his team to the World Series in front of what is certain to be a frenzied home crowd:
Cain in the 2012 postseason: 17.1 IP, 17 H, 9 R, 9 ER, 4 BB, 11 K
Of course, the two teams – and their two fanbases – have opposing perspectives with respect to historical deja vu, as well. In franchise history, the Giants have never won a Game 7. Not once. The team is 0-5, including a Game 7 loss to the Cardinals in the 1987 NLCS. The Cardinals, on the other hand, are 11-4 all time in Game 7′s. So while the Cardinals and their fans are looking for a little Game 7 deja vu, the Giants and theirs are looking for the beginning of a new team trend.
Deja vu doesn’t always cut just one way, though. Although St. Louis has had a good deal of success in Game 7′s throughout the team’s storied history, the Cardinals will be holding their breath and hoping to avoid a fourth Game 7 loss in a series they at one point led 3 games to 1. Those series – the 1968 World Series, the 1985 World Series and the 1996 NLCS – are some of the most bitter for longtime fans. This 2012 NLCS would surely join them in the minds of Cardinals fans as another peak of wasted opportunity. The one time the Cardinals did go up 3-1, lose the series lead, but then prevail in a Game 7, though, they ended up ending the Impossible Dream of another postseason darling (the 1967 Red Sox). So there is a template. Then again, 13 of the last 14 teams to win a Game 6 to force a Game 7 at home went on to win that Game 7. That is another trend the Cardinals hope to buck tonight, while the Giants will be looking to reinforce the heavy home team skew of those outcomes.
I, for one, will be at home pulling for the right kind of deja vu. In case we’re unclear, that’s the one where Kyle Lohse holds the Giants offense in check, the Cardinals bats come alive at least enough to scratch a few tough runs out against Matt Cain, the St. Louis bullpen continues to build on its strong postseason body of work and the Cardinals find themselves back in a familiar place…the World Series.