St. Louis Cardinals have been handed three straight loses in the 2019 NLCS. They look to rookie Dakota Hudson to lead the way to stay a sweep in postseason. He will face Nationals LHP Patrick Corbin.
Pitching throughout the 2019 season had been Cardinals strong suit. Defense behind them very solid with the least amount of errors (66) in the MLB. A 180 turn-around in that area from 2018 at the bottom of the heap with 133.
Hudson, a groundball specialist, has one postseason start. Against the Atlanta Braves in the NLDS at home, Busch Stadium. He only saw 4.2 IP, one earned run given up but four runs total due a rare Cardinals error. However, Cardinals Yadier Molina got the RBI for Cardinals 5-4 walk-off win in extra inning play.
Hudson's history facing the Nationals, in 53 AB, has only allowed 1 HR/5 ER holding the Nationals to a .189 BA. However, in the mix - Anthony Rendon (1 HR/1 RBI), Victor Robles (1 RBI), and Ryan Zimmerman (3 RBI) have found their way passed him.
During the season, Cardinals were 23-10 with Hudson starting, He closed his season, 33 GA/32 GS, 16-7/3.35 ERA and held the best W/L season record for Cardinals rotation.
Cardinals starters Miles Mikolas (6 IP/1 ER) and Adam Wainwright (7.1 IP/1 HR/3 ER) turned in very solid stands in G-1 and G-2. Cardinals "Ace" Jack Flaherty only saw 4 IP/4 ER Monday night. With logging 100+ PC in his two previous outings, I believe he was maxed-out for Monday's start. He had not given up four earned runs since July 2.
However, Cardinals offense, who do have the talent with a bat, have struggled. But, also, spurts of grandeur. Right now, they have been held in check to get past the Nationals pitchers.
NLCS GAME FOUR
Will the Cardinals be able to burst out of their major slump against Nationals Corbin? That is the question. They definitely haven't been able to even cause a ripple in the first three games with only two runs off 11 hits being held to a collective .121 BA.
Manager Mike Shildt penciled in their pinch-hitter Jose Martinez into the line-up Monday night in right field. Moved rookie Tommy Edman to third, sitting Matt Carpenter for the game.
As PH, J Martinez provided "a" hit in each of their first two games. In game one, "the hit" which retired Anibal Sanchez's no-hitter. After Monday night's game he is now 4-6/1-RBI/1-2B for his NLCS .667 BA. The second RBI was by Paul DeJong for a single Monday night with J Martinez in for the run.
The Cardinals have had 'chances' but have been shutdown before they got started.
Corbin has made one start in postseason, NLDS Game One against the LA Dodgers. He went six innings, one earned run, two runs in the Nationals 6-0 shutout loss. His remaining 2.1 innings have been in relief. In NLCS Game Two he faced the Cardinals, .01 IP, and did his job facing his one hitter, Kolten Wong who hit into a ground out.
Cardinals have to find their way, to retire Corbin early "due to run(s) on the board" to get to Nationals very weak bullpen to stay a sweep. If one can go by 'paper numbers', Cardinals history facing Corbin. In a collective 112 AB, they have been able to at least hit a .250 BA. Not great, but certainly much better than their current at-bats in this series.
NATIONALS DOMINATING STARTERS
In games one and two, Washington Nationals Anibal Sanchez and Max Scherzer both pitched a 'no-no' past their fifth inning before giving up one hit to the Cardinals. That was the second time in the duo's history they had done so against the same team in back-to-back postseason games. Their first was in 2013 in the ALCS with the Detroit Tigers against the Boston Red Sox.
Stephen Strasburg who in Game Three Monday night rang-up a dozen Cardinals at the plate in his seven innings pitched.
"DO OR BEGIN VACATION"
Now the Cardinals are faced with climbing out of a deep hole to avoid being eliminated and being swept in their first postseason appearance since 2015. The last they were swept was ten years ago in the NLDS 2009, 0-3, to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Nationals played a much improved second half of the season. They were 10-1 coming down the stretch to earn a postseason as a NL Wild Card team. They have continued their strong play eliminating the Dodgers in the NLDS. Now, on the brink with one more NLCS win, sending the Cardinals packing. One win away of being the National League World Series team to face with the AL New York Yankees or the Houston Astros.
The last there was a World Series game played in Washington D.C, was 1933 by the AL Washington Senators. Should the Nationals advance, (formerly the NL Montreal Expose [1969-2004], 1981 NLCS appearance) this would be their first since arriving at Nationals Park in 2005.
The frustration of the Cardinals must be laid to rest. Patience at the plate, small ball and, maybe, even a long ball for runs scored. Hard work? Yes.
Thank you for reading. You may also follow me on Twitter @elichap822.