Game 5 – Giants vs. Reds (Series tied 2-2) 1 PM EST
Pitchers: Matt Cain vs. Mat Latos
It all comes down to this one game for these two NL power houses; the battle of the Matts. Cincinnati is trying to win their first playoff series in 17 years and all the statistics point to their win this afternoon.
No NL team has ever lost a division series after winning the first two games, and no team in history has ever taken a 2-0 lead in a five game series to lose the next three at home.
The Reds haven't lost three in a row at Great American Ball Park in all of 2012.
Mat Latos feels incredibly comfortable against the Giants, to say the least. He is 2-0 with a 0.56 ERA against S.F. this season. The Reds have also drilled Matt Cain. Cincinnati is hitting .296 against the Giants ace in 2012.
Everything points to a Reds win today, however I just can't pull the trigger on giving them the automatic win.
Cain is clutch when the Giants need him most. He didn't give up a single earned run during all of the 2010 postseason while on their magical World Series journey. Reds manager Dusty Baker never closes the deal, no matter the team he is managing. The Reds are also not helped with the injury to Johnny Cueto.
It boils down to who I trust more; they have the experience, the clutch gene and the more cognizant manager. I'm going with my gut instead of the stats.
Who will win: Giants
Game 4 – Cardinals vs. Nationals (Cardinals up 2-1) 4 PM EST
Pitchers: Kyle Lohse vs. Ross Detwiler
It's amazing. The Cardinals keep finding ways to win.
Even though he was out most of the year, Chris Carpenter dominated in the win on Wednesday. St. Louis is 13-3 with Carpenter in the playoffs. Lohse could easily start that same tradition. He was the Cardinals best pitcher during the regular season with a 2.86 ERA. And pitching isn't the Cardinals only strong suit.
The Cards scored 765 runs in 2012, which leads all NL playoff teams.
One of the pieces that helped the Nationals win 98 games in 2012 isn't in the fold for the playoffs. Washington won't get help from their best pitcher, Stephen Strasburg, who is shut down for the season to rest his elbow. Today they'll start rookie Ross Detwiler instead. Although he's been good all year, Thursday will be his first career postseason start.
So we have the Cardinals, a team stacked with experienced veterans who won the World Series last year and are starting their best pitcher, versus a Nationals team that is starting a rookie on the mound that will face the best offense in the National League.
Who will win: Cardinals
Game 4 – Orioles vs. Yankees (Yankees up 2-1) 7:30 PM EST
Pitchers: Joe Saunders vs. Phil Hughes
Talk about teams that keep finding ways to win; you could argue that sentiment with both Baltimore and New York. The Yanks ended the O's streak of 16 consecutive games won in extra innings on Wednesday.
The Baltimore starters aren't a stacked group of All-Stars, but they keep performing well. They have a 1.89 ERA in this series, and Saunders was very impressive against Texas last Friday in a 5-1 win to seal the Wild Card.
When we talk Phil Hughes, we mention a lot of talent, but also a kid who has underperformed. Hughes won 16 games in 2012 but tallied a 4.23 ERA, allowing the second most homers in all of baseball with 35; and we all know the O's can get home run happy. Mark Reynolds has homered twice off Hughes, while three of his Oriole teammates have also nailed long balls against him. Hughes' ERA against Baltimore this year was 4.76.
I can't see this series not going 5 games.
Who will win: Orioles
Game 5 – Tigers vs. Athletics (Series tied 2-2) 9:30 PM EST
Pitchers: Justin Verlander vs. Jarrod Parker
Parker has had a tremendous rookie season and this comeback run the A's have been on has been nothing short of magical. I mean, they somehow not only beat out the Rangers for the division, but score 3 runs in the 9th inning to beat the Tigers on Wednesday night to force a game 5??…but the road ends here.
Oakland has won 8 straight at home, but Justin Verlander is the best pitcher in baseball. His arsenal features a smorgasbord of pitches he can all throw at any count. There is a reason he won the Cy Young and the MVP in 2011. Verlander is 3-0 with a 0.90 ERA against the A's this year.
My heart says A's, but my head says Tigers. I would be nothing short of shocked if the A's pull this out.
Who will win: Tigers
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