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Thursday, 01 November 2012 01:31

49ERS EMBARRASS CARDINALS, SMITH NEARLY PERFECT

So those reports of Alex Smith losing his confidence were unnecessarily hyped and quickly put to rest as the 49ers QB completed 14 of 15 passes for 146 yards and two touchdowns in just the first half of Monday night's 24-3 demolishing of the Arizona Cardinals.

"I was kind of in a good rhythm, the whole offense was." Smith said.

Alex finished his amazing day in Arizona 18 of 19 for 232 yards and three touchdowns.

"Eighteen of nineteen, I have never seen that." coach Jim Harbaugh said. "How important is it for your quarterback to play well? It is very important and I don't know how you play much better. It was a fantastic game by him."

What did Smith have to say about the so called "lost confidence in himself" rumors that have been floating around the past couple of weeks? He jokingly said, "It was in my closet, I found it."

49ers receiver Michael Crabtree was the recipient of two of Smith's TD passes and veteran Randy Moss caught the other. Crabtree finished the game pulling in 5 catches for 72 yards while Moss' lone catch was a 47 yard score.

The Niners defense nearly matched Smith's perfection, allowing a miniscule 7 yards rushing for the entire game. A Jay Feely field goal is all that stood between the Niners completely shutting out Arizona.

San Francisco strolls into the bye week with a 6-2 record, a full 2 games up on Seattle (4-4) and Arizona (4-4). The St. Louis Rams are 3 games back (3-5) in the NFC West. The team will spend the bye week rejuvenating themselves and getting ready for a tough second half of the season in which they will face the likes of Chicago, New Orleans, and New England.

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Ryan Vogelsong had never struck out more then 7 batters in his entire major league career, that is until Sunday night in front of a raucous AT&T crowd in what was the most important game of his life, he whiffed 9 Cardinal batters and controlled game 6 like a Hall of Famer who had done it time and time again. Vogelsong hit almost every pitch Catcher Buster Posey called for and kept Cardinals batters scratching their head's one after another as they walked back to the dug-out. Vogelsong would finish the game tossing 7.0 innings, giving up just 4 hits and 1 run to go along with his 9 k's. Jeremy Affeldt and Santiago Casilla would pitch the 8th and Sergio Romo who has been brilliant as the Giants closer would slam the door in the 9th giving the Giants a 6-1 victory and a date with the Cards for Monday night.

Once again Marco Scutaro would reprise his roll as Giants post season MVP as he would contribute 2 hits, 2 RBI's and 2 runs. Scutaro is now hitting . 318 with 14 hits, 5 RBI's and 7 runs in the postseason while continuing to be electric with his defensive glove work in the field. Pablo Sandoval and Brandon Belt would also contribute 2 hits each as the Giants would knock starting pitcher Chris Carpenter from the game after just 4 innings of work in which he gave up 5 runs (3 unearned). "The bottom line is," Carpenter would say, "I'm not giving my team a chance to win."

The Giants will look to Ace Matt Cain once again in front of what is sure to be one of the loudest AT&T crowds of all time for game 7. The Cardinals will counter with Kyle Lohse, in what will be a rematch of the rain delayed game 3 which the Giants would lose 3-1 in St. Louis. That game seems like it was played 100 years ago as the momentum has clearly switched from a Cards team that could smell its' second World Series trip in as many years to a fun loving, exuberent Giants squad who will look to repeat their own World Series showing and victory of 2010. Lights, Camera, Action! Who's ready for a little game 7 magic?

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By Justin J. Crowder

Although Marco Scutaro would take a nasty blow from Cardinals Right Fielder Matt Holliday as he slid into second base during the 1st inning of game 2 of the NLCS, Scutaro would remain in the game and energize not only the Giants players but also the 42,679 fans on hand to watch the Giants route the Cards 7-1. Giants Right Fielder Hunter Pence would say "it just kinda pumps you up...when you see on of your guys go down, you always want to win the game, but it's like 'let's go! Let's put it on the scoreboard'". Scutaro would leave in the 5th inning to have X-Rays on his hip, which came back negative. Good thing for the Giants as Scutaro's tremendous postseason play has captured the hearts of Bay Area fans much like former Giants outfielder Cody Ross did during the 2010 World Series run.

Ryan Vogelsong (the 2011 Willie Mac Award winner) would pitch beautifully giving the Giants a much needed 7 strong innings scattering 4 hits to go along with 4 K's and allowing just 1 run. Giants closer Sergio Romo who is also the owner of the coolest beard this side of Brian Wilson would get some much needed work in the ninth during a non-save situation. Vogelsong would be the first Giants starter to get past the sixth inning during this years postseason play, and it couldn't have came at a better time.

Giants outfielder Angel Pagan would hit his second home run of the postseason in the bottom of the first. The stat line was stellar for the Giants lead-off man as he compiled 2 hits, 2 runs, 2 RBI's, and a walk. The Giants look to become the 1st team in 25 years to have the fewest home runs of any team in the majors and make it to the World Series. What the Giants lack in pop they make up for with outstanding pitching, good solid defense, and a very smart veteran team and coaching staff. Filling in for Scutaro, 2nd baseman Ryan Theriot would also add a hit and 2 RBI's with National League MVP hopeful Buster Posey and a slimmed down always fun to watch 3rd baseman Pablo Sandoval both contributing with a hit each.

The series will take a travel day tomorrow as the two teams get ready to battle it out in St. Louis at the beautiful Busch Stadium on Wednesday Oct. 17th at 1pm. The Giants will send ace Matt Cain who went 16-5 with a 2.79 ERA and 193 strikeouts to the mound. The Cards will counter with right hander Kyle Lohse who went an impressive 16-3 with a 2.86 ERA and 143 strikeouts. Cain and Lohse both in this years hunt for the National League Cy Young Award will look to capture the all important and pivotal game 3 match-up in the NLCS.

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Monday, 15 October 2012 14:13

Bay Area "Bummed" After Game 1 Loss

By Justin J. Crowder

The San Francisco Giants would once again raise the blood pressure of Bay Area and Central Valley fans as they would lose game 1 of the National League Championship Series 6-4 to the St. Louis Cardinals.For the first time since 1958 the two previous World Series Champions (Giants 10', Cards 11') would face each other in the playoffs. Starting Pitcher and 18 game winner Lance Lynn was poised to to take the mound against 23 year old 16 game winner and south paw Madison Bumgarner. The smell of celebratory Champagne lasted but a short time as the Giants washed away the euphoria of a 3-2 series victory over the Cincinnati Reds in the National League Divisional Series and began focusing and delivering the team mantra "Never underestimate the heart of a Giant" on the St. Louis Cardinals who defeated the Washington Nationals 3-2 in their own 5 game series. The Cards would strike first as 3rd baseman David Freese launched a two run homer in the top of the second inning. Freese who was last years World Series MVP admitted that after going up 6-0 against the Giants that "i'm thinking of the D.C. game" Freese would also say "They were up 6-0. We were up 6-0.And that shows that you've got to keep playing...We were fortunate enough that our bullpen came in and closed the door the rest of the way." Two nights earlier the Cards had comer back from a 6-0 deficit against the Nationals. The cards would bombard Bumgarner again in the fourth as 2nd baseman Daniel Descalso would hit a one-out double and short stop Pete Kozma would continue his outstanding post season play driving inDescalso with a double of his own to left field. After swiping third base the bleeding would continue ascenter fielder Jon Jay singled in Kozma from third. Once former Giant Carlos Beltran grabbed ahold of aBumgarner pitch and crushed a 2 run shot to left field, Giants skipper Bruce Bochy had scene enough and quickly pulled the Giants 3rd year pitcher from the game. The bottom of the fourth provided the Giants and their fans some hometown cookin' of their own. After singles by the hot hitting 2nd baseman Marco Scutaro (who ended the regular season with a 20 game hit streak) and right fielder Hunter Pence (a huge mid-season acquisition by the Giants) 1st baseman Brandon Belt would deliver a single of his own driving in Scutaro and giving the Giants their first run of the NLCS. Left fielder Gregor Blanco would then triple to deep right scoring Pence and Belt. After short stopBrandon Crawford drove a deep ball to right field that scored Blanco and pushed the score to 6-4 the AT&T crowd truly came alive and the chant of "BELIEVE" echoed throughout the stadium. Lance Lynn wouldleave giving up 4 runs on 5 hits in just 3.2 innings. Entering the 5th both teams would need to rely on their bullpen and middle relief much earlier thenanticipated. The Giants would see a strong performance by a combination of G. Kantos, T. Lincecum,J. Affeldt, S. Casilla, and J. Mijares who combined to throw 5.1 magnificent innings allowing no hits, no runs, 5 strikeouts, and just 1 walk. Not to be outdone the Cardinals bullpen was incredibly stout as J. Kelly, M. Rzepczynski, T. Rosenthal, E. Mujica (who would get the win) and closer J. Motte would dominate Giants hitters over 5.1 innings allowing no runs and striking out 4. The aforementioned Motte who was tied for the National League lead with 42 saves could be a huge plus for the Cardinals as a dominate factor at the end of games. The Giants will rely on a closer bycommittee approach with Sergio Romo leading the way and trying to fill the shoes of the enigmaticGiants pitcher Brian Wilson. After going just 3 for 15 the Giants 2 through 5 hitters will truly need tostep up in game two and deliver if the Giants stand a chance against this talented St. Louis team. The Giants will try and even up the series on Monday Oct. 15th at AT&T Park as 14 game winner Ryan Vogelsong takes the mound against 2005 Cy Young award winner Chris Carpenter who spent much of the 2012 regular season on the disabled list. Game 2 will start at 5:00 PM and be televised on Fox.

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Barry Zito could have quite possibly turned his entire Giants career around in one game as he delivered an absolute gem of a performance on Friday night versus the Cardinals. "This is it for me," the much maligned pitcher would say. "Coming here, especially doing it in a Giants uniform. A lot of people were saying stuff about A's days. And for me, the most important thing is doing everything for San Francisco right now." Zito would go 7.2 innings scattering six hits with 6 strikeouts. He kept the Cardinals batters guessing all night, mixing and matching pitches beautifully.

The game five win sets up a game 6 matchup Sunday night at which is sure to be an electric AT&T Park.

Cardinals pitcher Lance Lynn would once again last just into the 4th inning as a bad toss to second base by the pitcher would lead to a Giants four-run 4th. "I don't mind him being aggressive if he's got the play," (shortstop Pete) Kozma was in the right place; he (Lynn) just made a low throw." Cards skipper Mike Matheny would say.

The Giants who are now 4-2 on the road this postseason have won each of Zito's past 13 starts, not bad for a guy who at the start of the year was the Giants 5th starter and even that spot was in question.

The Giants flashed multiple nice plays with their gloves in the field proving that defense and timely hitting is truly their best shot at winning versus this Cardinals team. Right fielder Hunter Pence made a circus like juggling catch, 2nd baseman Marco Scutaro would make a sliding stop to rob pinch-hitter Shane Robinson on back to back plays.

Zito would also contribute with a bunt single in the 4th that would score left fielder Gregor Blanco. Shortstop Brandon Crawford would pitch in with a 2 run single and Pablo Sandoval would add a 377 foot homer to right field giving him a homerun in each of the last two games.

Game 6 will match Giants pitcher Ryan Vogelsong against Cards' Chris Carpenter in a rematch of game 2. Vogelsong dominated that game hurling 7.0 strong innings as the Giants routed the Cardinals 7-1.

Bay Area and Central Valley fans will once again experience the "torture" which they have come to both love and hate over the past few years. The Giants will play their 5th elimination game of the postseason but with their backs against the wall, we seem to get the best of what this team has to offer.

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When Cardinals outfielder Carlos Beltran strained his left knee running out a double play ball in the first inning of game 3 of the NLCS, Giants fans were relieved  to see one of the Cards best hitters be hobbled and have to leave the game. Unfortunately little known Cardinals utility man Matt Carpenter would quickly make Bay Area fans miss the site of Beltran's face as he would hit a 2 run 421 foot blast off Matt Cain in the bottom of the third inning. "It was definitely  a surprise," said Carpenter. "I didn't even realize Carlos had hurt himself; there was really no thought process. I was in the game before I had time to think about it."

The Giants who came in 70-22 when scoring first, including the postseason, took the lead in the third on Pablo Sandoval's run-scoring groundout after leadoff hits by Angel Pagan and Marco Scutaro who showed no signs of injury after leaving game two in the 5th inning because of a hard slide into second by Matt Holiday.

Giants ace Matt Cain lost for the second time this postseason allowing three runs on five hits in 6.1 innings of work. The biggest eye soar on the day was not just the three and a half hour rain delay in the 7th that turned players and fans alike into soggy prunes but also the fact the Giants were 0-7 with runners in scoring position.

Cardinals closer Jason Motte would record the first 2 inning save of his career on what was from most accounts a very lackluster night for Giants batters.

The Giants snapped their five-game road winning streak in the postseason but will look to bounce back tonight as Tim Lincecum will revive his roll as starter against Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright. "He's a guy we want out there. He's been throwing the ball well," Bochy would say of Lincecum. "We've got to bounce back."

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