Offense shows up in Game 2

The St. Louis Cardinals entered Monday evening’s game down 0-1 to the Washington Nationals in a unique National League Division Series. Depending on the outcome of the game, they may have had to head to Washington needing to sweep the next three games at Nationals Park.

Out of the gate Cardinals’ starter Jaime Garcia struggled with his command early in the game. He walked two in the top of the first and then another in the top of the second. It was in the top of the second where Washington broke through and drew first blood. It was Nationals’ starter Jordan Zimmermann helping his own cause with a single to right field that scored Ian Desmond to put the Nationals ahead 1-0.

But it would be the bottom of the second where the game would open up when the Cardinals’ offense decided to show up. Allen Craig, Yadier Molina, David Freese, and Daniel Descalso led off the inning with consecutive hits that plated Craig and Molina. After a strikeout by Pete Kozma, Skip Schumaker sacrificed Freese across the plate. Then Jon Jay got in on the action with a hit to left field that scored Descalso, but he got caught trying to advance to second base. When the dust cleared, the Cardinals had a 4-1 lead.

After the second inning, Jaime Garcia created the controversy of the day, when he went to Mike Matheny and informed him that his shoulder was bothering him and had been since his side session last Friday. More on that in a bit.

Lance Lynn came in to replace Garcia after throwing 10 pitches yesterday in the sixth inning. He made quick work of the Nationals in the third and fourth innings as the Cardinals extended their lead behind him.

The offense showed up in a big way to continue putting the game out of reach of the Nationals. Craig added a home run in the third. Descalso added one in the fourth. A Pete Kozma walk led to him scoring after a sacrifice by Lynn and a fielding error by Nationals’ second baseman Danny Espinosa.

The Nationals weren’t done yet as Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche went back-to-back off Lynn in the top of the fifth. After working out of it, it would be his final inning of work.

It wasn’t just the offense that showed up, but the defense too as Jon Jay made a spectacular leaping catch into the wall to rob Espinosa of a leadoff hit in the sixth inning. It proved to be a momentum killer for the Nationals who scored just one more run on a sacrifice fly to Holliday who got Bryce Harper out at third while Werth scored. It would the Nationals’ fourth and final run of the day.

Carlos Beltran was not done, however. He homered in the sixth inning and then added a two-run home run in a four run eighth inning.

The offense hit today and then when they were done, they hit some more. This was the offense that was National League’s second best offense this year. This is the offense that they’ll need to have if they have any thought of winning the franchise’s 12th championship.

But the big story tonight seems to be Jaime Garcia. During his side session on Friday, Garcia had a return of discomfort in his shoulder. Rather than recognizing the importance of the start and the potential of his injury, Garcia kept quiet on it and stayed on track to start Game 2, hoping he could pitch through it without an issue.

And it continued was likely an issue during the first two innings as he struggled with command. Perhaps we can thank the shadows for Garcia not completely imploding and getting lit up. By the end of his second inning, when he informed Matheny and the training staff of his issues, the team was already looking at taking him out of the game anyway.

Garcia had an MRI tonight and the results will be known tomorrow. This puts the future of his offseason in doubt.

We will know tomorrow and it will be interesting to see what moves the team makes. Conceivably, if Garcia is done for the remainder of the offseason, they could add Shelby Miller to the bullpen for the rest of the series and then reevaluate the roster for the NLCS.

It’s worth noting that if Jake Westbrook still can’t go, the team will be looking for a fourth starter for the NLCS. Could that open the door for Miller, who was dominant against Cincinnati in his starting debut?