It rained on the San Francisco Giants’ parade, but nobody in the city by the Bay cared because it rained on the St. Louis Cardinals all night long. Mostly, it rained hits on the heads of Cardinals pitchers who couldn’t do a darned thing to stop San Francisco’s batting order from going around in circles. Game 7 of the National League Championship Series was supposed to be a confrontation between two teams that were at their best when everything was at stake. Instead, the Cardinals were never in it, losing 9-0.
The score seemed to get out of hand so fast the Cardinals were probably making airline reservations back to St. Louis by the fourth inning. What promised to be an evening of suspense turned into a nine-inning Giants celebration and coronation. The Cardinals were doomed to defeat so swiftly that each inning that passed had to be slow torture. You can’t run out the clock in baseball.
Once they fell behind 5-0 there was not the slightest hint that the Cardinals would come back. The final indignity was playing the last inning or so in a monsoon. TV shots of St. Louis manager Mike Matheny standing stoically in the dugout as pelting rain soaked him seemed symbolic of a captain going down with his ship.
It was a very un-St. Louis-like departure from the playoffs. The Cardinals fought their way into the post-season in September, eliminated the Atlanta Braves in the one-game wild-card playoff, out-lasted the Washington Nationals in five games and went up 3-1 in games over the Giants–only to be roadblocked from the World Series by losing three straight games. Monday night was borderline humiliating. The Cardinals pitchers couldn’t get anyone out, the fielders looked like the Keystone Cops and the hitters couldn’t hit. It was a very thorough beat-down for a proud team.
The Cardinals never wanted the NLCS to reach seven games. They didn’t want to face Matt Cain again and those fears were legitimate. Cain was sharper than he had been earlier in the series and got the win. But the Giants’ bats did plenty of damage.
Second baseman Marco Scutaro, who hit an unappreciated .299 for the Red Sox last year and began the season with the Colorado Rockies before setting the West Coast on fire, was the MVP of the series and that was a no-brainer since he batted like .700 with like a 9,000 on-base percentage. Scutaro stroked 14 hits in the series. Ty Cobb should only have averaged two hits per game.
Outfielder Hunter Pence–who resembles Woody Harrelson’s wilder younger brother–appeared to lead the league in intangibles, his dugout exhortations coming across like a quarterback taking charge in a two-minute drill.
When the slaughter was over, the Giants wanted to party and didn’t mind if they had to do it in a downpour. They owned the National League pennant and they didn’t even act as if they cared that still another seven-game series loomed ahead. Justin Verlander is coming to town Wednesday bearing a menacing message: Remember the Tigers. The Giants may be all wet, but they don’t seem particularly scared.