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Entries in NLCS (11)


Cain is Able: Gets it done on the Hill and at the Dish

The San Fransisco Giants completed a three game run against the defending champion St. Louis Cardinals to punch their ticket to the World Series, and they did it on the back of their pitching staff. Zito and Vogelsong spun two gems to force a game seven, and Matt Cain took over the rest. 

Let's do an inning by inning breakdown of how Cain stiffled the Cards.



Cain struck out Jon Jay swinging with a nasty 2-seamer at the letters. He gave up a bloop single to Beltran, but managed to strand him in scoring position with two weak fly balls.



The second was a little shakier for Cain, as he allowed runners to get to second and third with two outs before getting Lohse to lineout on a great leaping catch by Brandon Crawford. Cain also showed off his skill at the plate in the bottom half, as he knocked a hanging slider back up the middle for an RBI single to put the Giants up 2-0.



After allowing a leadoff single to Jay, Cain settled in and got three straight outs to retire the side. To this point in the game, Cain had  only struck out two batters, inducing five fly balls and only two ground balls while walking one. Let's take a look at his pitch location through the first three innings.

Cain's Pitch Locations through 3 innings of NCLS Game 7

Coupling this with the contact rate of hitters, it is easy to see that his command of his pitches was excellent.


Contact rate versus Cain through 3 innings of NLCS game 7As you can see, the spots that Cain was hitting most frequently were a virtual dead zone for Cardinals hitters through the first half of his outing. Even though Cain wasn't striking out hitters at a high rate, he maintained good control of all of his pitches and continued to induce outs.



Cain gave up a leadoff single before retiring three straight via fly out, strikeout, and ground out respectively. At this point, the game had gotten completely out of hand, with the Giants leading 7-0, it was Cain's job to get outs. When this happens, a pitcher can begin to focus on pounding the strikezone, attacking hitters, and pitching to contact. 



Cain retired the side in order, forcing a ground out, a lineout, and a fly out. One important thing to notice during this outing is the amount of line drive outs to this point in the game: three; any one of those could have landed for a hit early and completely changed the dynamic of the game, but every pitcher knows how to appreciate a hard hit ball right at a fielder.



After hitting the first batter and allowing yet another line drive out at the second baseman, Cain gave up a seeing-eye single through the left side of the infield. He settled down to punch out David Freese for his last batter of the day.

Cain's pitch location from the 4th to the 6th inning

As you can see, Cain's location shifted more towards the middle of the plate. Usually this is asking for trouble for a pitcher, but as mentioned previously, Cain had been given a big lead, and his excellent compliment of pitches led to a very successful outing and a trip to the World Series. This will be the Giants' second trip in the past three years, and they will ride the success of their starting pitchers as far as it will take them.



Ryan Braun Taking Advantage

Ryan Braun leads all 2011 Postseason participants with 13 hits. His .624 weighted on base average also leads the postseason along with his 25 total bases.  Braun has gone deep twice, one behind six players tied for first, and his two doubles put him in a tie for first with Albert Pujols.

Taking a look at how he's been pitched to so far, it's no surprise he's doing so well at the plate.

Click image to enlarge.

In the regular season, Braun did a lot of damage on balls over the middle of the plate, not surprisingly. But he also killed pitches down in the strike zone, as well as down and in at the knees.  So far in this postseason, pitchers have basically thrown to those locations.

The areas Braun had any difficulty with were pitches up and away and pitches inside.  However, as the heat map indicates, pitchers haven't thrown to those areas much.  In fact, they really haven't thrown Braun much of anything up in the zone at all.

If opposing pitchers continue to throw to Braun's strengths, don't expect his offensive output to slow any time soon.


Uribe's Unique HR

In Game 6 of the NLCS, Juan Uribe hit an 8th inning HR off Ryan Madson, breaking a 2-2 tie and leading the San Francisco Giants to victory over the Philadelphia Phillies.  How rare was this HR?  Let's take a look.

After retiring both Pat Burrell and Cody Ross, Ryan Madson threw Juan Uribe a first pitch slider.  Uribe went the other way with the pitch, sending it over the right field wall.

Juan Uribe's HR off Ryan Madson in Game 6

Juan Uribe's ISO vs. RHP Sliders since 2008Since 2008, Uribe has hit 13 HR's off right handed sliders, and Madson's was the only one to go opposite field.  In fact, Uribe had hit no opposite field HR's at all since 2008 before facing Madson in Game 6.  And it was the second HR that Madson allowed to a RHB on a slider since 2008.

Juan Uribe's HR Locations since 2008