Monday, 22 October 2012

Game 7 keys: Lohse, Cain, Jay, Posey

The St. Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants will play one game on Monday for the right to go to the World Series.
The Giants have home-field advantage and momentum after winning Games 5 and 6 against a Cardinals team that has lacked offensive punch.

Let’s take a look at some key numbers for a few of the pivotal players in this contest, focusing on the starting pitchers and a hitter from each team who is due for a breakout.

Key stats for Kyle Lohse
Lohse is 2-0 with a 1.96 ERA in three starts this postseason. He survived a very shaky start in Game 3, allowing one run in 5 2/3 innings, despite yielding seven hits and five walks.

Lohse has had a very effective slider in his three starts. The pitch netted him 3.3 outs per baserunner in the regular season but has produced 18 outs, with just two hits and one walk allowed, in these playoffs.

The Giants have a weapon on their bench that could give Lohse trouble, should they need it in a big spot. Utility infielder Ryan Theriot is 12-for-22 in his career against Lohse, though the two have not faced off since 2009.

Theriot’s .545 batting average ranks second among hitters with at least 15 at-bats against Lohse, surpassed only by a player currently on Lohse’s side, Carlos Beltran (.564 in 39 at-bats).

Key stats for Matt Cain
Cain has a 4.67 ERA in three postseason starts and has not looked like the pitcher who dominated in the early part of the season.

Cain’s off-speed stuff has been very hittable. He’s thrown 51 percent of those pitches in the strike zone (up from 45 percent in the regular season) and some of them have caught too much of the plate.

Cain allowed one home run for every 165 off-speed pitches he threw in the regular season, but has allowed four on the 128 off-speed pitches he’s thrown this postseason.

Cain’s curveball was a valuable pitch in the regular season, netting outs at a rate of 3.5 for every hit. But in this postseason, the hook has netted just four outs and yielded three extra-base hits.

The Cardinals have three hitters with really good numbers against Cain, albeit in a limited sample. If Matt Holliday can’t go, Matt Carpenter would take his 5-for-6 history against Cain into Game 7. Teammate Jon Jay is 5-for-8 against Cain.

Cain’s biggest nemesis could be Beltran, who is 7-for-19 with a home run against him. The home run came on a curveball, the only one he’s seen from Cain this season, on Aug. 6.

Looking for a breakout: Buster Posey
Posey is 3-for-22 in this series after grounding out three times and striking out once in Game 6.

Of the 92 pitches Posey has seen in this series, 84 of them have been on the inner third or outer third of the plate, or off the inside/outside corners.

Posey is 2-for-19 in at-bats ending on pitches to those areas this postseason. He hit .314 with 14 homers against them during the regular season.

Looking for a breakout: Jon Jay
Jon Jay has had a hard time getting going this postseason. He’s 9-for-49 with seven strikeouts, though his hits have been timely ones (he’s 4-for-10 with runners in scoring position).

Jay is 5-for-26 against right-handed pitching this postseason, but has been hindered by his inability to hit the ball in the air. Of the 18 balls he’s put into play, 12 have been ground balls.

Jay has struck out 12 times this postseason, 10 times against right-handed pitching. Jay’s timing has been just a little bit off.

In the regular season, he fouled off 38 percent of pitches from right-handers. That rate has increased to 57 percent in the postseason.

To read about the Cardinals' and Giants' histories in Game 7, click here.

Emily Symons Melissa Gilbert

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