The 2014 National League Championship Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and the San Francisco Giants will go down as the most thrilling series of the 2014 post season — unless of course the world Series tops it. In a year that was marked by three sweeps in the American League, the National League produced a four-game division series when the Cardinals beat the Los Angeles Dodgers in four and then, ending last night, a five-game league championship series that had the Giants beat the Cardinals with a walk off, three-run homer by Travis Ishikawa. What an over-achiever — Ishikawa only needed to score one RBI to win the game.
One of the more notable aspects about the Giants in this post season, and this series in particular was they were winning games without home runs — until Thursday’s game five. The Giants hadn’t hit one out of their own ballpark in this NLCS, but the Cardinals had many, including two in Game 5.
But Thursday Night three of the Giants found the fences: Joe Panic with a two-run homer in the 3rd, Michael Morse who tied the game with a solo shot in the 8th and Travis Ishikawa’s 3-run shot in the 9th to end the game.
The Giants made a habit of getting a couple runs in an inning, and then a couple more in another, and another and in this style of play they won three of these NLCS games, despite the long ball from the Cardinals.
Pitching was a big factor in the series, in that starters were knocked out of games early, having given up too many runs. Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright had to really bad starts in the post season before last night and Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said in a press conference he needed his ace to go long into the game, seven innings at least, until the Cards’ set-up man and closer could come in and finish the game.
Both starters, Madison Bumgarner for the Giants and Wainwright, pitched extremely well, despite giving up runs, three by Bumgarner and two by Wainwright. It should have been Wainwright’s finest night in the post season. He gave up the two runs early, but then shut down the Giant bats, retiring the last 11 batters he faced. As the sentiment was heard and felt, if Wainwright had his 20-game winning “stuff” back, the Cardinals could not lose, so when Wainwright and the Cardinals walked to the dugout at the end of the 7th inning, it looked like the game was over for the Giants.
In the bottom of the 8th the Cardinals brought in reliever Pat Neshak. The first batter he faced was pinch hitter Michael Morse who then sent a solo homerun 349 feet out of the park into the empty space next to the left field bleachers. The crowd erupted. It was so loud we could barely hear ourselves talk. That homer tied the game. Neshak got the next three batters out, relieved he had only given up one run.
The Cardinals were unable to score in the 9th,, even though Giants reliever Santiago Casilla loaded the bases.
Then Cardinals manager Mike Methany made a move people will be debating and arguing for years to come: he called on reliever Michael Wacha to pitch in the bottom of the 9th, even though Wacha has been nagged by a shoulder injury most of the season and hadn’t pitched at all in the post season. Wacha quickly had two runners on base; Pablo Sandoval singled to right and Brandon Belt walked. The Travis Ishikawa came to the plate and sent his game-winning, walk off three-run homer 401 feet over the right field wall. The Giants won the National League.
San Francisco has earned their trip to Kansas City to meet the Royals in the 2014 World Series. This will be a rare series in that both teams started the post season as wild cards. Two teams that were expected to be out of it before the league championship series are now in the World Series.
Afterwards in an interview, when asked if he had been keeping up with the American League and the Kansas City Royals in particular, shortstop Brandon Crawford said, “We played them earlier this year, but we didn’t have a very good series, but we didn’t have a great series against the Nationals, or Pirates or these guys here (Cardinals). We’ll probably worry about the Royals tomorrow. Right now we’re just gonna have some fun.”
The World Series begins Tuesday, October 21 at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri.
Claudia is of Peruvian and Italian descent, having been born in a small town, in the North of Peru, South America. She was raised by her grandmother from an early age, living in poverty until Claudia’s mother brought her to America. She landed in Miami, FL and started her new life, playing high school basketball and eventually becoming a United States citizen. Claudia completed her education at Florida International University with a BA in Broadcast Journalism and became a model to supplement her income. Since graduating from FIU Claudia has worked with many of the Spanish Language broadcasting companies, including Telemundo, Univision and most recently Spanish Language channels on SiriusXM satellite radio and PasTV Deportes in Venezuela.She encourages you to follow her on Twitter and Facebook. Her content appears here under a shared content agreement with her Spanish television clients.