Beltran, Freese pace relentless Cardinals lineup
SAN FRANCISCO -- The merry-go-round, as Mark McGwire likes to call it, was spinning in the fourth inning Sunday night. It made Madison Bumgarner dizzy.This is what the Cardinals do to opposing clubs. This is why you ought not be fooled by their somewhat pedestrian regular-season record or their second Wild Card status. What the Cards do, when they are at their best, is squeeze opposing pitchers into submission. They patiently wait for their pitch, they smack the ball the other way, they mash mistakes, they watch that pitch count tally rise until the bullpen phone rings. "If you don't take selfish at-bats," said center fielder Jon Jay, "if you don't try to chase and just pass the torch, you'll see good things happen."
Good things are happening to the Cardinals once again this October, and it is not accidental. The crazy comeback in the capital and the 6-4 win here at AT&T Park, in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series against the Giants, were both built on the same principle."We don't have a lot of free-swinging strikeout guys," Lance Berkman said. "We have guys who know the strike zone and have good reputations. And when you stack that many good hitters back to back to back to back in the lineup and the pitcher has to work for every [out] and make quality pitches, that makes it tough." It is obvious that the Cards have two particularly tough weapons at their disposal. Carlos Beltran has been a beast this postseason, and that ought to be unsurprising. His two-run homer off Bumgarner in the fourth was the 14th of his postseason career, and his postseason at-bat-per-homer ratio of 7.71 is the best all time, nearly a full at-bat ahead of some guy named Babe Ruth.