Nats Game Day – NLDS Game 1 at Cardinals

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Beanballs,Sports,Brian McNally

Nationals at Cardinals

Game » NLDS Game 1

Series » 0-0

Starters » Gio Gonzalez (21-8, 2.89 ERA) vs. Adam Wainwright (14-13, 3.94 ERA)

When » Sunday, 3 p.m.

Where » Busch Stadium, St. Louis

TV » TBS

Radio » 106.7 The Fan FM, WFED 1500, WHFS 1580

The first postseason game for a Washington, D.C. baseball team since the 1933 World Series gets underway in less than two hours as the Nationals face the St. Louis Cardinals in a National League Division Series. With Stephen Strasburg shut down, the opening assignment goes to Gio Gonzalez, who had a brilliant season of his own. It’s possible he would have earned the nod ahead of Strasburg anyway given their overall body of work this season.

Gonzalez, 27, pitched maybe his best game of the season on Aug. 31 against the Cardinals when he tossed a complete-game five-hitter in a 10-0 Washington victory. He did walk three batters that night, but struck out eight. That was his only appearance against the Cardinals in 2012. But St. Louis may have a better chance than most clubs. Their right-handed heavy lineup posted a .787 OPS against lefties this season. Only two teams hit them better.

As for the Nats, they have to solve veteran Adam Wainwright, who features one of the sport’s best curve balls. He missed last season’s championship season due to Tommy John surgery in spring training, but has returned with a solid 2012. Washington saw two sides of Wainwright this summer. They crushed him in that Aug. 31 games with nine hits and six runs in just 2 2/3 innings. Wainwright also walked three batters. But on Sept. 28 in St. Louis Wainwright gave up one run in six innings. He struck out five, walked one and gave up just five hits in an eventual 12-2 Cardinals’ win.

Washington third baseman Ryan Zimmerman has said repeatedly this season that experience is the most “overrated thing in pro sports”. He was speaking more of a rookie like Bryce Harper contributing, but it was clear he also meant participating in big games. If you disagree with Zimmerman then you would think St. Louis has a decided edge there. It reached the postseason in 2009 and won the World Series last year.

Few players remain from the team that also won the 2006 title, but Wainwright is one of them. He was a reliever on that club. Starter Chris Carpenter, who returned from his own surgery late in September and will pitch in this series, was a starter on that team and Yadier Molina was the catcher.

Only Adam LaRoche, Michael Gonzalez, Edwin Jackson and Jayson Werth have any postseason experience for the Nats. Jackson helped St. Louis win the World Series last year. The rest of the 25-man roster will be seeing its first postseason action. We’ll see if that’s an issue early on the road against a tested, veteran team in one of the sport’s loudest ballparks.

Here are today’s lineups:

Nats

RF – Jayson Werth

CF – Bryce Harper (L)

3B – Ryan Zimmerman

1B – Adam LaRoche (L)

LF – Michael Morse

SS – Ian Desmond

2B – Danny Espinosa (S)

C – Kurt Suzuki

LHP – Gio Gonzalez

 

Cardinals

CF – Jon Jay (L)

RF – Carlos Beltran (S)

LF – Matt Holliday

1B – Allen Craig

C – Yadier Molina

3B – David Freese

2B – Daniel Descalso (L)

SS – Peter Kozma

RHP – Adam Wainwright

Follow me on Twitter @bmcnally14

 

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