Things could not be worse for the St. Louis Cardinals through the first 18 innings of the National League Championship Series. They do not have any hits prior to the seventh inning in either contest, and their four total hits have tied the lowest two-game total in MLB playoff history. The thing is that their pitching has been good for the most part, but they really just cannot produce any runs. Nothing has been going their way, and Game 3 has to be the change, unless they are feeling like the 2004 Red Sox.
DC! The Nationals have been playing terrific baseball, web-gem catches left and right, their bats doing just enough to help out their team and limit pressure on their starting pitching. Sean Doolittle struggled mightily down the stretch of the regular season but has done some exceptional pitching for his team out of the pen. They got 7 2/3 innings of no-hit work from Anibal Sanchez in Game 1, something few could have foreseen. Up 2-0 with the series shifting to Nationals Park, they can almost sniff the World Series.
The moneyline on the Cardinals is set at +114, while it’s at -129 for the Nationals tonight. The over/under is set at a meager seven runs.
Cardinals Need A Win
If they want to turn it around, the plan is relatively simple. They need to change their approach at the plate and find some way to get the bats going. Whether it is being aggressive earlier in counts, or making the Washington pitchers adjust to them and not controlling every single at-bat. Not one player has found consistency for STL, and the first two times through the order over each of the first two games produced a grand total of zero hits. They have plenty of bats in the lineup. Who can break through?
Jack Flaherty, the ace of the staff, gets the nod for Game 3. The 23-year-old went 1-1 in two NLDS starts, striking out 16 and walking just two over 13 innings, posting a 2.77 ERA.
One Step Closer?
They had just one run on the board for the first seven innings of Game 2, a Michael A. Taylor home run carrying them through most of the game. Taylor has been exceptional in place of Victor Robles (out with a hamstring injury) and will be hard to take out should Robles make it to 100 percent. Ryan Zimmerman has been around the game 15 years, and his clutch hitting has been significant. Anthony Rendon and Juan Soto, the 3-4 hitters, have been very tough to stop, continuing to dominate. And the pitching has been exceptional across the board.
Stephen Strasburg makes his third start (fourth appearance) of the postseason Monday night. He pitched three great innings against Milwaukee in relief in the Wild Card Game. And he had 17 Ks to one walk in 12 innings of work over two starts against LA. He’s ready.
Nats Take 3-0 Series Lead
Six solid innings from Strasburg and a good effort from the bullpen will take the Nats to a low-scoring win. Make sure to bet Washington -129 and UNDER seven runs.
Free Play: WSH -129
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