2012 National League Championship Series
From BR Bullpen
|2012 National League Championship Series|
|San Francisco Giants
94 - 68 in the NL
|4 - 3
|St. Louis Cardinals|
88 - 74 in the NL
The 2012 National League Championship Series pitted the winners of the previous two World Series, the St. Louis Cardinals, defending World Series champions, against the San Francisco Giants, winners of the big prize in 2010.
Both teams had to overcome the odds to reach this far, however. The Cardinals benefitted from the addition of a fifth postseason team for the first time in 2012 to even get to play in the postseason, as they finished 6 games behind the other wild card team, the Atlanta Braves, and would have been shut out of postseason play in previous years. However, they managed to beat the Braves on the road in the Wild Card Game, then defeated the Washington Nationals in five games in the NLDS, overcoming a two-run deficit in the 9th inning of Game 5 to move forward. The Giants won the NL West title relatively easily, but then quickly lost the first two games of the other Divison Series at home while their offense was completely muzzled by the Cincinnati Reds' pitchers. They managed to somehow pull out a victory in extra innings in Game 3 in spite of getting only 3 hits, then completed an unprecedented comeback by winning the series' final two games also on the road.
 The Teams
St. Louis Cardinals
San Francisco Giants
 Series results
|1||St. Louis Cardinals 6 San Francisco Giants 4||October 14||Lance Lynn (0-0) Madison Bumgarner (0-1)|
|2||St. Louis Cardinals 1 San Francisco Giants 7||October 15||Chris Carpenter (0-1) Ryan Vogelsong (1-0)||8:00 pm|
|3||San Francisco Giants 1 St. Louis Cardinals 3||October 17||Matt Cain (0-1) Kyle Lohse (1-0)||4:00 pm|
|4||San Francisco Giants 3 St. Louis Cardinals 8||October 18||Tim Lincecum (0-1) Adam Wainwright (1-0)||8:00 pm|
|5||San Francisco Giants 5 St. Louis Cardinals 0||October 19||Barry Zito (1-0) Lance Lynn (0-1)||8:00 pm|
|6||St. Louis Cardinals 1 San Francisco Giants 6||October 21||Chris Carpenter (0-2) Ryan Vogelsong (2-0)||7:30 pm|
|7||St. Louis Cardinals 0 San Francisco Giants 9||October 22||Kyle Lohse (1-1) Matt Cain (1-1)||8:00 pm|
 Game 1 @ AT&T Park
|WP: Edward Mujica (1-0), LP: Madison Bumgarner (0-1), SV: Jason Motte (1)|
|Home Runs: - STL: Carlos Beltran (1), David Freese (1)|
- Attendance: 42,534
The Cardinals rolled out to an early 6-0 lead over the Giants in Game 1 of the NLCS, then hung on for a 6-4 win. The Cards chased Madison Bumgarner in the 4th inning, thanks in part to homers by David Freese and Carlos Beltran. The Giants jumped on starter Lance Lynn for four runs in the bottom of the 4th, but Joe Kelly relieved him and stopped the bleeding before the rest of the team's bullpen shut out San Francisco for the rest of the game.
 Game 2 @ AT&T Park
|WP: Ryan Vogelsong (1-0), LP: Chris Carpenter (0-1)|
|Home Runs: - SF: Angel Pagan (1)|
- Attendance: 42,679
In Game 2, the previous year's postseason pitching hero, Chris Carpenter, started for the Cardinals, against veteran Ryan Vogelsong for the Giants. Carpenter had been injured almost all season, only getting to play a few games at the major league level at the end of September, but was now back and healthy; for the Giants, Vogelsong had completed the second year of a remarkable career turnaround, in which he had become one of the National League's most reliable pitchers after sputtering in his first six major league seasons, and being out of the major leagues altogether from 2007 to 2010.
The Cardinals tried to give the game its tone early by being very aggressive, with Matt Holliday barrelling into 2B Marco Scutaro to break up a potential double play with two on and one out in the top of the 1st. Holliday levelled the much smaller Scutaro, but his throw to first was still accurate, although late, forcing Jon Jay to stop at third base. Scutaro stayed on the ground a few minutes but remained in the game, and Vogelsong forced Yadier Molina to ground out to end the inning without a score. After the game, Giants manager Bruce Bochy would call Holliday's slide "illegal". In the bottom of the 1st, Angel Pagan led off with a solo homer for San Francisco for the game's first run. However, St. Louis tied the game right back when Pete Kozma walked with two outs in the 2nd and Carpenter, a lifetime .118 hitter, doubled him in.
The score remained tied until the 4th, when San Francisco mounted a big push. Brandon Belt doubled after one out and Gregor Blanco followed with a single, putting runners on the corners. Brandon Crawford hit a weak ground ball back to Carpenter, who threw it away, allowing Belt to score. Vogelsong bunted both runners over, and Pagan drew a walk to load the bases. Scutaro then delivered the blow that opened up the game for the Giants, hitting a single to Holliday in left that cleared the bases, two runs scoring on the hit, and Pagan coming around to score on Holliday's error.
The Giants controled the game from that point onward. Carpenter was removed for a pinch-hitter in the top of the 5th, but the Cardinals were unable to mount any serious offensive threat. After the 5th inning, Scutaro was replaced by Ryan Theriot, being bothered by pain in his hip as a result of the 1st-inning play. He underwent an MRI that showed no fracture, however. The Giants added a couple of insurance runs in the 8th when Blanco walked, and pinch-hitter Aubrey Huff and Pagan singled to load the bases against reliever Shelby Miller. Theriot followed with another single that scored two more runs, making the final score 7-1. Vogelsong got the win, having given up only 4 hits over 7 innings, while Jeremy Affeldt and Sergio Romo added a scoreless inning each. Carpenter took the loss for St. Louis.
 Game 3 @ Busch Stadium
|WP: Kyle Lohse (1-0), LP: Matt Cain (0-1), SV: Jason Motte (2)|
|Home Runs: - STL: Matt Carpenter (1)|
- Attendance: 45,850
St. Louis won Game 3 at home after the contest's start was delayed for nearly 3 1/2 hours by a rain storm. When play began, Kyle Lohse was facing the Giants' new ace, Matt Cain, who had taken over the distinction during the season as Tim Lincecum struggled all year; Cain had sealed his standing by throwing a perfect game during the season and starting and winning the All-Star Game.
Cain started the game by plunking lead-off hitter Jon Jay, but Carlos Beltran immediately grounded into a double play. However, Beltran hurt his knee running out the ground ball, and had to be replaced by Matt Carpenter in the top of the 2nd. Carpenter was 4 for 4 lifetime against Cain, and would live up to that when his turn to bat came up in the 3rd inning. With Jay on second base as the result of a two-out single and an errant pick-off attempt, Carpenter took Cain deep to give the Cardinals a 2-1 lead. San Francisco had scored in the top half of the inning when Angel Pagan led off with a single; Marco Scutaro, back in the line-up after an MRI on his hip had proved negative, doubled, and Pablo Sandoval grounded to shortstop, scoring Pagan and moving Scutaro to third with one out. Lohse walked Buster Posey intentionally and then got Hunter Pence to ground into a double play, ending the threat and preventing a big inning.
The game settled down after the early fireworks, with no scoring in the middle third. Lohse left with two outs in the 6th, having given up 7 hits and 5 walks, but only one run. Trevor Rosenthal got the last out of the frame, then in the bottom of the 7th, the Cardinals chased Cain when David Freese doubled with one out, Daniel Descalso received an intentional pass and Pete Kozma singled to load the bases. Shane Robinson, who had come in to play RF in place of Carpenter as part of a double switch in the top of the inning, grounded out to Scutaro, allowing Freese to score and give St. Louis a 3-1 lead. Javier Lopez replaced Cain and retired Jay on a ground ball to end the inning. The Giants had placed a ton of men on base through the first seven innings, stranding 11 baserunners, but when Jason Motte came in to pitch the 8th, their bats had run out of steam. They went down in order in both the 8th and the 9th, and the Cardinals were up two games to one.
 Game 4 @ Busch Stadium
|WP: Adam Wainwright (1-0), LP: Tim Lincecum (0-1)|
|Home Runs: - SF: Hunter Pence (1), Pablo Sandoval (1)|
- Attendance: 47,062
The Cardinals went into Game 4 with Adam Wainwright on the mound; the former ace had struggled during his first season back from Tommy John surgery but got better as the season progressed and was giving signs of soon being back to his previous dominance. Facing him was another former ace, Tim Lincecum, who had struggled even worse than his opponent and had in fact been dropped from the starting rotation in the NLDS in favor of Barry Zito. Cardinals manager Mike Matheny also decided to keep Carlos Beltran on the bench following the previous day's knee injury, playing Matt Carpenter at first base and Allen Craig in right, although Beltran was available to pinch-hit if needed.
Wainwright was outstanding during his seven innings on the mound, giving up only four hits while striking out 5 and walking none. The only blemish on his record was a solo homer by Hunter Pence in the 2nd inning. However, the Cardinals had already taken a 2-0 lead by that point, as Lincecum allowed the first three batters he faced to reach base in the 1st inning: Jon Jay singled, Carpenter walked, and Matt Holliday singled to score Jay and move Carpenter to third. Craig followed with a sacrifice fly and it was 2-0, St. Louis, before the Giants cut the lead in half on Pence's homer in the next inning.
The score remained 2-1 in favor of the Cardinals until the 5th inning, when Lincecum ran into more trouble. Carpenter doubled after one out, then Holliday singled him in with Holliday taking second on the throw. After Craig struck out, Yadier Molina singled to make it 4-1. George Kontos relieved Lincecum at that point, but he got into more trouble in the 6th, when he allowed singles to Daniel Descalso and Pete Kozma to lead off the inning. Wainwright bunted both runners over and Jose Mijares replaced Kontos. Jay greeted him with a double, scoring both runners, and increasing the lead to 6-1. The Cardinals did not rest however, scoring two more runs in the 7th on a single by Craig, a run-scoring double by Molina, a wild pitch and a single by Kozma. With the score 8-1, the Giants scored a couple of late runs against reliever Fernando Salas in the 9th, on a two-run homer by Pablo Sandoval, but the game's outcome was no longer in doubt by that point.
 Game 5 @ Busch Stadium
|WP: Barry Zito (1-0), LP: Lance Lynn (0-1)|
|Home Runs: - SF: Pablo Sandoval (2)|
- Attendance: 47,075
With his team facing elimination, Giants manager Bruce Bochy decided to use a fifth different starter in Game 5, with Barry Zito taking the mound. Zito had been a major disappointment since signing a huge free agent contract with San Francisco before the 2007 season, being in fact not used at all when the Giants won a World Championship in 2010. However, the Cardinals had teed off seemingly at will against Madison Bumgarner in Game 1, so Bochy was unwilling to give him the ball again. For St. Louis, Game 1 starter Lance Lynn was back, although he too was a second choice, having spent the NLDS in the bullpen and earning his way back to the starting rotation only because of Jaime Garcia's season-ending injury. For the Cards, Carlos Beltran was also back in the line-up after sitting out Game 4.
Bochy's choice turned out to be an inspired one, as Zito's start was a form of redemption for his string of disappointing seasons for the Giants. In 7 2/3 innings, he did not give up a run, allowing 6 hits and a walk, to lead the Giants to a 5-0 win. The game was decided in the 4th inning, when the Giants put together a big frame against Lynn. Marco Scutaro and Pablo Sandoval opened the inning with consecutive singles. After Buster Posey struck out, Hunter Pence hit a comebacker to the mound,; Lynn tried to force Scutaro at third, but threw wildly, allowing him to score, and putting Sandoval on third. Brandon Belt popped out for the second out, but Gregor Blanco drew a walk to load the bases. SS Brandon Crawford then had the game's key hit, a single to center that scored both Sandoval and Pence. Zito then laid down a perfect bunt for a hit, and Blanco scored in turn, making it 4-0. Joe Kelly replaced Lynn at that point, but the game was out of reach already.
Zito continued to muzzle the Cardinals through the 7th. In the top of the 8th, Sandoval hit a solo homer off Mitchell Boggs, making the score 5-0. Zito left with two outs in the 8th, having allowed a single to Jon Jay, but Santiago Casilla stepped in to strike out Matt Holliday. Sergio Romo then pitched the 9th, allowing only a single to Yadier Molina, and the game was over, with the Series heading back to San Francisco for Game 6.
 Game 6 @ AT&T Park
|WP: Ryan Vogelsong (2-0), LP: Chris Carpenter (0-2)|
|Home Runs: - none|
- Attendance: 43,070
Back in San Francisco, Game 6 was almost a repeat of Game 2. The same two men were on the mound, Chris Carpenter for the Cardinals and Ryan Vogelsong for the Giants, and the results were almost identical, with the Giants coming up with a 6-1 win to force a decisive Game 7.
San Francisco scored early and then cruised to the win. In the 1st inning, Marco Scutaro drew a one-out walk and Pablo Sandoval doubled. Buster Posey then hit a ground ball to 3B David Freese, who thought about throwing home, then hesitated, bobbled the ball slightly, and finally had no choice but to relay to first base as Scutaro scored the game's first run. In the 2nd, Brandon Belt led off with a triple to deep right-center, and, one out later, Carpenter intentionally walked SS Brandon Crawford to face Vogelsong. With the infield drawn in, Vogelsong faked a bunt then hit a tapper towards Pete Kozma at shortstop; Kozma fumbled the ball, allowing Belt to score the second run and Vogelsong to reach safely. After Angel Pagan struck out for the second out, Scutaro followed with a double to left, scoring two more runs; Sandoval followed with another single, and the Giants were up 5-0 after two innings.
In the meantime, Vogelsong was dealing on the mound, not allowing his first hit until two were out in the 5th. In 7 innings, he set a career high with 9 strikeouts, allowing only 4 hits and a walk. The Cardinals' only run came in the 6th, when Carlos Beltran doubled with two outs and Allen Craig singled him in. Vogelsong pitched another inning before giving way to Jeremy Affeldt in the 8th. When he left, the two starting pitchers had statistical lines almost identical to those they had put in Game 2: 5 runs - 2 earned - in 4 innings for Carpenter, and 1 run in 7 innings for Vogelsong; the ultimate result was the same as well, a second win for Vogelsong and another loss for Carpenter. The Giants ended the scoring when Belt singled off Marc Rzepczynski with one out in the 8th, and after Crawford had walked, pinch-hitter Ryan Theriot hit a single off Edward Mujica to make the final score 6-1. Sergio Romo then got the last three outs to end the game.
 Game 7 @ AT&T Park
|WP: Matt Cain (1-1), LP: Kyle Lohse (1-1)|
|Home Runs: - SF: Brandon Belt (1)|
- Attendance: 43,056
The Giants completed their second remarkable comeback of the postseason, winning for the third straight time after having been down 3 games to 1. Once again, the Giants dominated the game from start to finish, as indeed they outscored the Cardinals 20-1 in the final three games when the chips were down. On the mound was their ace, Matt Cain, facing the dependable but unspectacular Kyle Lohse. Cain finally pitched the sort of game that had made him one of the National League's top pitchers, after three middling starts in his previous postseason outings. In 5 2/3 innings, he gave up only 5 hits and a walk, and left with an impregnable 7-0 lead, having thrown over 100 pitches. It was a different story for Lohse, however. He had flirted in and out of trouble all night in winning Game 3, but this time, the Giants made him pay for his generosity in allowing baserunners to reach. Angel Pagan and Marco Scutaro opened the bottom of the 1st with consecutive singles, the second moving Pagan to third base. Pablo Sandoval followed with a ground ball that forced Lohse off the mound, and it was quickly 1-0. In the 2nd, Gregor Blanco singled after one out and Brandon Crawford moved him to second with a ground ball to the right side. Cain then became the third straight Giants starter to drive in a run, singling to center field for a 2-0 lead.
The Cardinals were already in trouble, but the 3rd inning was a killer for Lohse. Scutaro opened with another single - he would hit three on the night on the way to winning the NLCS MVP award - and Sandoval hit a double. Lohse walked Buster Posey to load the bases, and was removed in favor of Joe Kelly, having given up 6 hits and a walk in only two innings. Hunter Pence stepped up to the plate and broke his bat on one of Kelly's fastballs, but the ball was out of reach of SS Pete Kozma after curving away from him while in the air. It fell into centerfield for a double; two runs scored on the hit and a third did so when CF Jon Jay misplayed the ball. Replays showed that pieces of the broken bat had hit the ball while in the air, giving it its incongruous trajectory. There was no coming back from that early 5-0 deficit. The Giants added two more runs before the inning was over, as Belt followed with a single, Blanco walked and Crawford hit a ground ball to Kozma, who hesitated and could not retire anyone, for a fielder's choice and a 6th run. After Cain struck out, Pagan grounded into a force out for the 5th run of the inning, and another walk later, Kelly was out, replaced by Edward Mujica. When the inning ended, the Giants were up 7-0, and with Cain pitching very well, it was just a matter of completing the game.
The Giants added a couple of late runs, on a double play grounder in the 7th and on a solo homer by Belt off Jason Motte in the 8th, to make the final score 9-0. Four relievers - Jeremy Affeldt, Santiago Casilla, Javier Lopez and Sergio Romo - combined to keep the Cardinals off the scoreboard over the last 3 1/3 innings, but the outcome was no longer in doubt. A steady rain began pouring late in the game, and drenched the field as the Giants celebrated their return to the World Series, where they would face the Detroit Tigers, giving groundskeepers the challenge of repairing the damage in less than 48 hours.
 Further Reading
- Bay Area News Group: Comeback Kids: The San Francisco Giants' Incredible 2012 Championship Season, Triumph Books LLC, Chicago IL, 2013. ISBN 978-1600787508
- Brian Murphy: Never Say Die: The San Francisco Giants - 2012 World Champions, Cameron + Company, Petaluma, CA 2013. ISBN 978-1937359447
 Related Sites
|Major League Baseball National League Championship Series