There is not a word in the English language that accurately describes how bad the offense has been in the first three games but the closest is pathetic. The pitching has held up their side of the bargain so far. Tonight, Dakota Hudson tries to save the season, but really the offense is going to play a more crucial role in deciding tonight’s fate.
Despite the easy target of making fun of the Cardinals offense, certain opposing fans have chosen to take a different route. It is not the route I would have taken. Before game time during the games in St. Louis, the ticket prices were surprisingly cheap. People pointed this out. This was seen as a "burn" on Cardinals fans. If this sounds absurd, well I'll show you the evidence.
There are numerous excuses I could give for why its low, but I'm not going to do that for one simple reason: I don't give a shit. This is not something people should care about. The stadium still packed 44,000 or whatever the final number ended up being. The crowd was invested in both games. That's the only thing to care about as a fan.
You know who might care about low ticket prices? Bill DeWitt. He gets less money. Congratulations, you're carrying water for billionaires to shame fans (who still showed up: I was at Game 1. It was full.) I mean I guess if that’s the direction you want to rib fans, go for it. It kind of says more about you than the group you’re trying to make fun of, but hey not the first time or last time that will happen.
Seriously, what this boils down to is these people are choosing to shame the Cardinals fans for having tickets available to them which allow pretty much anybody to go to the game. Isn’t that... kind of awesome? You can go to a freaking playoff game for less than a movie! This is a bad thing apparently.
Anyway, rant over, the Cardinals are in a bad position. It does not particularly seem like the Cardinals will win this series or even a game really. Things are dire. In all likelihood, tomorrow at this time, the Cardinals will be out of the playoffs. They had a good run. They won the NL Central. They won a playoff series. It’s hard for me personally to complain, despite a dreadful NLCS.
However, let me paint a picture for you and see if I can swing people to this side. Imagine the improbable: the Cardinals win tonight. I don’t know how. It doesn’t matter. They could win because the Nationals stranded the bases loaded every inning and the Cardinals scored their run from three straight wild pitches after a HBP for all I care. The end result is a win.
Now, tomorrow, the Nationals are starting Anibal Sanchez, who looked unhittable in Game 1. You know who else looked unhittable? Mike Foltynewicz in Game 2 of the NLDS. Sometimes, mediocre pitchers get exposed when hitters see them twice in a five-day span. So second hypothetical is the Cardinals crush Sanchez and win Game 5. Neither of these things is outlandish so far. While the odds the Cardinals win tonight is less than 50/50, it’s still not a crazy number. And Anibal Sanchez, from this writer’s viewpoint, seems to be a lot of smoke and mirrors. He has a 4.44 FIP and 5.11 xFIP on the season. (Despite the ERA, his xFIP for the postseason is 5.01 so he still seems like the same pitcher)
Okay I think you’re probably still with me. Probably don’t agree it will happen. But you can see it. Find a way to win tonight, beat Anibal Sanchez. Now it’s 3-2 Nationals. Now we’re headed back to St. Louis. At this point, the Nats feel the creeping sense of “oh god we’re not gonna blow this are we?” and the Cards will have a look of “oh you bet your ass you will.” Can’t possibly beat Max Scherzer though. He’s got Game 6.
Except.... Scherzer did in fact get beaten by the Cards this year - twice in fact. It’s true. Look it up. He threw 7 IP on May 1, allowed three earned runs, and got the loss. On September 18, he threw 6.2 IP, allowed 5 ER and got the loss. But he’s different now right? Well, he was pretty good in those starts actually. He struck out 19 and walked 2 in those two starts. It is actually possible for Scherzer to pitch good and allow enough earned runs to lose.
And if you beat Scherzer, forget about Game 7. If the Cardinals win the next three games, I think I can get you on board for a Game 7 win. Honestly, that’s the most believable part of this. High on a three-game winning streak, at home, winner-take-all, with Jack Flaherty on the mound? At this point, this impending sense of blowing it is going to be smattered across every Nationals player and they would simply stand no chance.
This probably won’t happen. The beauty of baseball is that there’s always a chance. And it starts with winning the game tonight. If they win tonight, I think they’ll win tomorrow and then it starts getting dicey. This team is known for comeback wins. Well, here’s a hell of a comeback opportunity. It’s not going to happen. But the Nationals better win tonight is all I’m saying.