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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, October 15, 2012 at 9:34 AM

The St. Louis Cardinals survived the Atlanta Braves…survived the Washington Nationals…and have now taken a one-game lead over the San Francisco Giants in the NLCS for one very simple reason. There doing a better job of anyone in the playoffs of getting men on base!

They’ll look to keep that trend going Monday Night in Game Two knowing they’ve already broken serve on the road, and can win the best-of-seven simply by winning their home games the rest of the way.

If you’ve been watching a lot of baseball this postseason, you know that one very clear theme has developed. Offenses are swinging for the fences trying to hit home runs. Most of the time, they FAIL! The Yankees/Orioles series was a horrible exhibition of baseball because it was just inning after inning (after extra inning!) of hitters swinging as hard as they could before marching back to the dugout after a strikeout. The offenses of Washington and Oakland underachieved because they fell into the same trap. It’s like everyone gave up on sequential offense and hoped to win 2-1 or 3-2 hockey games.

Here are the postseason batting averages of the Elite Eight counting Sunday’s action.

Cincinnati .261

Detroit .258

St. Louis .249

Washington .232

NY Yankees .205

San Francisco .196

Baltimore .195

Oakland .194

Only two teams are better than .250. Fully half are at .205 or worse though there’s still time for the Yankees and Giants to fix that.

Now, a very important part of hitting is drawing walks. That gives you additional baserunners. And, it also works pitch counts deep in a way that could help knock a starting pitcher out of the game a few outs or an inning earlier than expected. Look at walks drawn for the Elite Eight.

St. Louis 31

NY Yankees 26

San Francisco 20

Cincinnati 15

Oakland 14

Washington 14

Detroit 12

Baltimore 9

Only the Cards and Yanks are working counts to their advantage (then the Yanks just strike out anyway!). And, if you look at both lists, only the Cardinals are hitting for average AND drawing walks.

HITS PLUS WALKS PER GAME FOR FINAL FOUR

St. Louis 12.7

NY Yankees 11.3

Detroit 10.9

San Francisco 9.8

If the Giants don’t put a dent in that deficit, they’re not going to last very long in this series at all. New York took a serious hit when Derek Jeter fractured his ankle. They lose veteran production from a stat composite that was already being helped a bit by playing extra-inning games. Note that the Tigers lead the category head to head by a 28-24 margin through two games.

The only game on the Monday schedule is Cards/Giants. Let’s check the pitching stats for the scheduled hurlers.

REGULAR SEASON AND PLAYOFFS COMBINED

Carpenter (St. Louis): 2.78 ERA, 1.24 WHIP

Vogelsong (S. Francisco): 3.33 ERA, 1.23 WHIP

Carpenter only has four starts this year because he’s been battling injuries. He sure didn’t seem rusty or overmatched when throwing five scoreless innings against Washington a few days ago. Both of these pitchers are known quantities…and known quality! The Las Vegas betting market is expecting a pitcher’s duel, with the current line of San Francisco -115 at a total of 6.5.

Note that five of seven St. Louis playoff games have gone Over the Vegas total because the baserunner driven offense is averaging 6.6 runs per game against quality pitching. Vogelsong needs to step up tonight, or the 2010 World Champions will be watching the 2011 World Champions in the 2012 World Series!

The experts here at VegasSportsMasters have a very big Monday Night planned with this game and the Denver Broncos/San Diego Chargers matchup on ESPN. Check for big play bulletins here on the home page once the selections are officially posted. Expanded commentary on what’s available will be posted on the “buy picks” page well in advance of the games. Game day baseball will be available all week to help supplement your football profits.

Be sure you check out what red hot KELSO STURGEON has on tap tonight. Kelso won his 200-Unit release on California over Washington State Saturday as part of an amazing 5-0 board sweep. He came back strong with a monster Sunday as well…nailing his huge play on the St. Louis Rams (dominant in the boxscore stats) in what should have been an outright win in Miami.

Here at VSM, hot handicappers are always waiting to hear from you!

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