Edwin Jackson hopes to take the Cardinals to the World Series tonight

Link to the original article on Missouri Sports Magazine:  http://missourisportsmag.com/?p=38385

ST. LOUIS, MO. (Joe Richter, Missouri Sports Magazine) – In Game 5 of the National League Championship Series, the St. Louis Cardinals took a 3-2 series lead on the Milwaukee Brewers – their 16th straight getaway game win.  The Cardinals beat the Brewers 7-1 in front of a crowd of 46,904 in St. Louis.

Now each team’s fate lies in the hands of two pitchers who wouldn’t be considered their “ace”.  The two pitchers faced each other in Game 2 of the NLCS, with the Cardinals winning 12-3.  Sunday is Round 2.

On Sunday, Cardinal RHP Edwin Jackson will get his third start of the postseason (1-0, 3.48 ERA).  Jackson was acquired by the Cardinals in July as part of a three-team trade with the Chicago White Sox and the Toronto Blue Jays.  Since becoming a Cardinal, Jackson solidified the rotation and allowed native St. Louisan Kyle McClellan (Hazelwood West High) to shore up the (at the time) ailing bullpen.  As a Cardinal, Jackson went 5-2, with a 3.58 ERA – and showed resiliency by getting out of jams.  In the playoffs, Jackson is 1-0 with a 3.48 ERA.  11 out of 14 times in taking the mound for the Cardinals, Jackson has allowed fewer than three runs.  In Game 2 in Milwaukee, Jackson went 4.1 innings, allowing 7 hits, 1 walk, and 2 earned runs.  Much like Garcia did early in Game 5, Jackson will need to keep the ball down in the strike zone.  He relies on his mid-90s four-seam fastball and hard slider.

Game 6 starter, Shaun Marcum, is 0-2 and has a 12.46 ERA in his two starts in the postseason.  For a team that has been applauded for their work at home this season (61-27 regular season and postseason combined), Shaun Marcum is the oddball – he actually pitched better on the road (8-3, 2.21 ERA).  Marcum was 5-4, with a 4.81 ERA at home in the regular season.  Marcum has given up 30 runs in his last 32 innings, and 12 runs in his last 8.2 innings.  The Brewers lost 12-3 in Marcum’s last start, Game 2 of the NLCS.  But he won 13 games in the regular season, and shouldn’t be underestimated.  Brewer manager Ron Roenicke said, “We expect a real good game from Shaun.”  Roenicke elaborated, saying, “The first two months of the season, he was probably our best pitcher.”  In April, Marcum was 3-1, with a 2.21 ERA.  Much like Randy Wolf did in Game 4, Marcum will need to get ahead in the count, change his speeds, and have command of his pitches.

In Game 5, Cardinal hitters had a good night at the plate (the first seven lineup spots all had hits), but the four errors by the Brewers might have made the difference.  The Cardinals bullpen was the real star of the game, shutting down the Brewers sluggers in 4.1 innings of work – allowing only two hits and one walk (all by RHP Lance Lynn).  The Cardinals went 4-for-15 with runners in scoring position; Milwaukee was 1-for-8.

“It’s a group effort,” Matt Holliday said of how his team just won’t let their season end.  “It’s never one guy.  We’ve just been finding ways to win, and hopefully we can find a way to win five more.”

In the NLCS, Cardinal starters have a 6.04 ERA in 22.1 innings pitched, while the bullpen pitchers have a 1.69 in 21.1 innings.  The Cardinals have a 3.99 ERA in the postseason, and have hit .279.  The Brewers have given up 5.38 ERA in the postseason, and have hit .258.

The Cardinals want to have another “happy flight” home.  The Brewers just don’t want to go home for offseason.

Game 6 is Sunday, 7:05 CDT, at Miller Park in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Former Cardinal Colby Rasmus (traded for Jackson) is wondering, "Dang, if only..."