2012 National League Division Series
The 2012 National League Division Series were two best-of-five game series to determine the participating teams in the 2012 National League Championship Series. The three divisional winners and a fourth team—the winner of a one-game Wild Card playoff—played in two separate series. This series with the Washington Nationals was their first playoff berth since moving to Washington D.C. and the first franchise playoff berth since 1981 when they were the Montreal Expos. TBS carried most of the games, with some on TNT. The Wild Card Game was held on October 5, 2012. The series used the 2–3 format (three consecutive games at home for the team with home field advantage preceded by two consecutive games at home for the other team) for 2012 because Major League Baseball implemented the second wild card slot on March 2, 2012, long after the 2012 regular season schedule had been set, leaving no room for the 2–2–1 format which requires a travel day between Games 4 and 5. The 2–3 format was used for best-of-five Championship Series prior to 1985 and for the Division Series from 1995 to 1997. The matchups for the 2012 NLDS were:
- (1) Washington Nationals (East Division champions, 98–64) vs. (5) St. Louis Cardinals (Wild Card Game winner, 88–74): Cardinals win series, 3–2.
- (2) Cincinnati Reds (Central Division champions, 97–65) vs. (3) San Francisco Giants (West Division champions, 94–68): Giants win series, 3–2.
Both series saw the first postseason meetings between the respective clubs and both went to the maximum five games.
Washington Nationals vs. St. Louis Cardinals
St. Louis won the series, 3–2.
|1||October 7||Washington Nationals – 3, St. Louis Cardinals – 2||Busch Stadium||3:40||47,078|
|2||October 8||Washington Nationals – 4, St. Louis Cardinals – 12||Busch Stadium||3:27||45,840|
|3||October 10||St. Louis Cardinals – 8, Washington Nationals – 0||Nationals Park||3:32||45,017|
|4||October 11||St. Louis Cardinals – 1, Washington Nationals – 2||Nationals Park||2:55||44,392|
|5||October 12||St. Louis Cardinals – 9, Washington Nationals – 7||Nationals Park||3:49||45,966|
Cincinnati Reds vs. San Francisco Giants
San Francisco won the series, 3–2.
|1||October 6||Cincinnati Reds – 5, San Francisco Giants – 2||AT&T Park||3:27||43,492|
|2||October 7||Cincinnati Reds – 9, San Francisco Giants – 0||AT&T Park||3:14||43,505|
|3||October 9||San Francisco Giants – 2, Cincinnati Reds – 1 (10 innings)||Great American Ball Park||3:41||44,501|
|4||October 10||San Francisco Giants – 8, Cincinnati Reds – 3||Great American Ball Park||3:35||44,375|
|5||October 11||San Francisco Giants – 6, Cincinnati Reds – 4||Great American Ball Park||3:52||44,142|
Washington vs. St. Louis
Game 1, October 7
|WP: Ryan Mattheus (1–0) LP: Mitchell Boggs (0–1) Sv: Drew Storen (1)|
The series opened on a sunny afternoon in St. Louis, before 47,078 fans watching the Nationals' first playoff game since October 19, 1981, when they were the Montreal Expos. It was the first time a team from Washington D.C. played in a postseason contest since the 1933 World Series, when the Washington Senators lost to the Giants.
The Nationals struck first on an RBI single by Kurt Suzuki in the second inning, but the Cardinals responded with two of their own, as 21-game winner Gio Gonzalez walked four batters and threw a wild pitch, helping St. Louis score without the benefit of a hit.
The score stayed 2–1 until the top of the eighth, when Tyler Moore delivered a two-out, pinch-hit single to give the Nationals a 3–2 lead they would not relinquish, as Tyler Clippard and Drew Storen sealed the deal out of the bullpen for the first playoff win for the franchise in 31 years.
Game 2, October 8
| WP: Lance Lynn (1–0) LP: Jordan Zimmermann (0–1)|
WSH: Ryan Zimmerman (1), Adam LaRoche (1)
STL: Allen Craig (1), Daniel Descalso (1), Carlos Beltrán 2 (2)
The Cardinals tied up the series in Game 2 with a decisive 12–4 win. The Nationals drew first blood in the top of the second, but St. Louis rallied in the bottom of the inning for four runs, featuring RBIs by David Freese, Daniel Descalso, Skip Schumaker (who was pinch hitting for starter Jaime García) and Jon Jay. Allen Craig homered in the third, and the Cardinals never looked back from there on out, sending the series to D.C. tied at one game apiece. Both teams combined to use 13 pitchers, with Lance Lynn working three relief innings to get the win.
Game 3, October 10
| WP: Chris Carpenter (1–0) LP: Edwin Jackson (0–1)|
STL: Pete Kozma (1)
Washington D.C.'s first playoff game in 79 years was not a pleasant one for the home team. The Nationals were blown out for the second straight game and left 10 men on base—including the bases loaded in the fifth inning—and didn't even get anyone on in the last three innings. Chris Carpenter ran his postseason record to 10–2 (2.88 ERA) in 16 postseason starts in 100.0 innings, in seventh place for wins, only one behind Curt Schilling (11–2, 2.23 ERA) and Greg Maddux (11–14, 3.27 ERA) for fifth place. Now tied for fourth place in postseason winning percentage (.833). The Cardinals have won 13 of his 16 starts. He pitched extremely well for St. Louis in only his fourth start since recovering from transplanted nerve surgery on July 19, not starting a game until September 21. He pitched 5 2⁄3 innings without allowing a run in 106 pitches, his season high. Pete Kozma hit a three-run home run in the second inning for the big blow of the game.
The Nationals' pitching was shaky. Edwin Jackson surrendered four runs and eight hits in five innings, including Kozma's three-run homer. Craig Stammen, Christian Garcia, and Ryan Mattheus gave up one run apiece out of the bullpen, with Stammen increasing his ERA in the series to 11.57.
Game 4, October 11
| WP: Drew Storen (1–0) LP: Lance Lynn (1–1)|
WSH: Adam LaRoche (2), Jayson Werth (1)
The Nationals had their backs against the wall in this must-win game. Adam LaRoche provided the first offense of the game with a homer for Washington in the bottom of the second, but the Cardinals manufactured a run in the third inning through a walk, a sacrifice bunt, an error, and a sacrifice fly.
It was 1–1 for the majority of the rest of the game, as both pitching staffs refused to blink. Ross Detwiler pitched very well for the Nationals, tossing six innings while giving up just three hits and one run. The bullpen, in three innings, combined for eight strikeouts—after Detwiler had fanned just three—and did not give up a hit. St. Louis turned in a similar performance, with Kyle Lohse pitching sevens strong innings.
In the bottom of the ninth, Jayson Werth, on the 13th pitch of a lead off at-bat against Lance Lynn, lined a homer into left field, giving the Nationals a 2–1 win and forcing a Game 5.
Game 5, October 12
| WP: Jason Motte (1–0) LP: Drew Storen (1–1)|
STL: Daniel Descalso (2)
WSH: Ryan Zimmerman (2), Bryce Harper (1), Michael Morse (1)
In the deciding Game 5, St. Louis clinched a trip to the NLCS for the second straight year.
The Nationals jumped out early on, taking a 6–0 lead, with help from home runs by Ryan Zimmerman, Bryce Harper, and Michael Morse. With their ace Gio Gonzalez on the mound, the Nationals appeared headed towards the NLCS.
In the fourth inning, Matt Holliday hit an RBI double to get the Cardinals on the board. In the fifth, St. Louis scored two more runs on a wild pitch and a walk, but wound up stranding the bases loaded. In the seventh, the Cardinals tacked on another run off Edwin Jackson appearing in relief on two days' rest. The Cardinals continued to chip away at the Nationals' lead when Daniel Descalso homered off Tyler Clippard to make it 6–5 Washington. The Nationals got a much-needed insurance run in the bottom of the eighth, and sent out Drew Storen, who had recently replaced Clippard as the team's closer, in the hopes of getting three outs while stifling the Cardinals' comeback.
Storen gave up a leadoff double to Carlos Beltrán, who then advanced to third on a Matt Holliday groundout. Allen Craig then struck out, putting the Nationals one out away from going to the NLCS for the first time in 31 years. Yadier Molina, who had had postseason heroics in the past, walked, sending up David Freese as the go-ahead run. Freese, also known for clutch performance in the postseason, also walked. Descalso then hit a two-run single, scoring Beltrán and pinch-runner Adron Chambers which tied the game at seven. Pete Kozma then hit a two-run single, which scored Freese and Descalso making it 9–7 St. Louis. Washington went down in order in the bottom of the ninth against Jason Motte, sending the Cardinals to the NLCS for the second year in a row.
Composite line score
|St. Louis Cardinals||1||9||2||3||2||2||2||7||4||32||44||2|
|Total attendance: 228,293 Average attendance: 45,659|
Cincinnati vs. San Francisco
Game 1, October 6
| WP: Sam LeCure (1–0) LP: Matt Cain (0–1)|
CIN: Brandon Phillips (1), Jay Bruce (1)
SF: Buster Posey (1)
Matt Cain and Johnny Cueto faced off against each other for the first time in 2012. Everyone expected a pitchers' duel from the two right-handed aces. In the top of the first, Brandon Belt made an amazing catch, leaping over the fence in foul territory and into the crowd, but holding on for the second out to help Cain pitch a 1–2–3 inning. In the bottom of the first, however, after Cueto struck out Ángel Pagán and then got ahead in the count 0–2 on Marco Scutaro, Cueto left the game with back spasms. Sam LeCure replaced him. LeCure got out of a bases-loaded jam in the second inning by getting Cain to line out to deep right. In the top of the third, Brandon Phillips put the Reds up with a two-run blast. It was the start of a great day for Phillips. After a Jay Bruce homer in the fourth, Buster Posey got some revenge with a homer to lead off the sixth off Mat Latos. Then, Gregor Blanco bunted with two out. Scott Rolen picked up the ball and threw it away, but Phillips made a great diving stop to keep Blanco off second and keep the Giants from scoring anymore. In the ninth, the Reds added two big insurance runs, thanks to an RBI single from Phillips and a passed ball by Posey. In the bottom of the ninth, it got dicey when Aroldis Chapman struggled and allowed a run to score, but he struck out Posey to end the ballgame and seal the Reds' 5–2 win over the Giants in Game 1 to take a 1–0 series lead. This was the first Reds postseason win since 1995 breaking an eight-game losing streak in the postseason.
Game 2, October 7
| WP: Bronson Arroyo (1–0) LP: Madison Bumgarner (0–1)|
CIN: Ryan Ludwick (1)
Game 2 was a blowout. Reds starter Bronson Arroyo gave up just two hits in seven innings, while walking one and striking out four. J. J. Hoover and José Arredondo combined for two scoreless innings out of the bullpen.
In contrast, the Giants' pitching was disappointing, as Bumgarner surrendered seven hits and four runs while working just four innings, including a homer by Ryan Ludwick in the second. Six relievers followed Bumgarner, including Tim Lincecum, who worked two scoreless innings after being demoted to the bullpen, and Guillermo Mota, who surrendered three hits and two runs in just 2⁄3 of an inning.
The Giants were now in a two games to none hole, while Cincinnati was just one win away from going to the NLCS for the first time in 17 years, with three chances to clinch the series at home.
Game 3, October 9
|WP: Sergio Romo (1–0) LP: Jonathan Broxton (0–1)|
In contrast to Game 2's blowout, Game 3 was a tightly contested affair that came down right to the wire.
Cincinnati attacked first on Jay Bruce's RBI single in the first inning off Ryan Vogelsong, scoring Zack Cozart. That would be practically it for the Reds' offense, as the Giants' pitching composed themselves to give up just one hit the rest of the way.
Homer Bailey, who had pitched a no-hitter just two starts before, was flirting with another one, not giving up a hit through 5 2⁄3 innings before Marco Scutaro broke it up with a two-strike single. That was the only hit the Giants would get in regulation, as Bailey was brilliant, pitching seven innings while striking out ten. However, the Giants still managed to score a run in the third inning with a hit by pitch, a walk, a sacrifice bunt, and a sacrifice fly.
Neither team came close to scoring after that until the 10th inning, when Buster Posey and Hunter Pence got back to back singles to kick off the inning. Jonathan Broxton settled down after that to strike out the next two hitters. After the runners advanced on a passed ball, the usually sure-handed Scott Rolen bobbled a ground ball hit by Joaquín Árias, allowing Posey to score. The Reds went down quietly in the 10th inning as the Giants avoided the sweep.
Game 4, October 10
| WP: Tim Lincecum (1–0) LP: Mike Leake (0–1)|
SF: Ángel Pagán (1), Gregor Blanco (1), Pablo Sandoval (1)
CIN: Ryan Ludwick (2)
In Game 4, needing another win to keep their season alive, the Giants' offense finally came to life. Ángel Pagán hit the second pitch of the night, from emergency starter Mike Leake, over the right field wall for a lead-off home run, the first in Giants postseason history. Pitching for the Giants, Barry Zito struggled early, walking three consecutive Reds hitters in the first inning to force in a run. The score was 1–1 in the second inning, when Gregor Blanco hit a two-run home run to give the Giants a 3–1 lead. Zito continued to struggle, needing 76 pitches to complete just under three innings of work. George Kontos relieved Zito, and retired both batters he faced in the third. Back-to-back doubles by Joaquín Árias and Pagán, followed by a Pablo Sandoval sacrifice fly gave the Giants a 5–2 lead, and in came Tim Lincecum. Lincecum struck out six batters in 4 1⁄3 innings, ultimately getting the win. Sandoval increased the lead further by hitting a tape-measure home run in the seventh inning down the right field line. Santiago Casilla closed out the game, and the Giants avoided elimination for the second straight night, setting up a decisive Game 5.
Game 5, October 11
| WP: Matt Cain (1–1) LP: Mat Latos (0–1) Sv: Sergio Romo (1)|
SF: Buster Posey (2)
CIN: Ryan Ludwick (3)
The Reds' Mat Latos and the Giants' Matt Cain were locked in a pitchers duel for four innings. In the top of the fifth Brandon Crawford tripled home Gregor Blanco to open the scoring. Angel Pagan then reached on an error by Zack Cozart, allowing Crawford to score the second run of the inning. After a walk to Scutaro, Sandoval singled to load the bases. Buster Posey then crushed a 2-2 pitch from Latos off the facing of the second deck for a grand slam and a 6–0 lead. The crowd at Great American Ball Park went completely silent as Posey rounded the bases. The Reds did not go quietly, and brought the tying run to the plate in the sixth, seventh, and eighth innings, and the winning run to the plate in the ninth inning. With two men on and the Giants clinging to a two-run lead in the bottom of the ninth, Sergio Romo retired Jay Bruce on a harmless fly ball to left after a 12-pitch duel. Romo then settled down and struck out Scott Rolen to give the Giants the victory. The Giants became the second National League team to rally from an 0–2 Division Series deficit to advance to the Championship Series (the other being the 1981 Los Angeles Dodgers) and first in Major League Baseball to advance by winning three games on the road. Cincinnati joins the 1984 Chicago Cubs and 1981 Houston Astros as the only National League teams to blow a 2–0 lead in a best–of–five series. This series also joins the 2010 ALDS matchup between the Texas Rangers and the Tampa Bay Rays as the second MLB postseason series in which the road team won every game. The Reds to date have yet to win a postseason game at Great American Ball Park (0-4) and have a seven-game home losing streak in the postseason in Cincinnati, losing their last three postseason games at Riverfront Stadium/Cinergy Field, including losing the wild card tiebreaker to the New York Mets in 1999.
Composite line score
|San Francisco Giants||1||2||1||0||8||1||3||0||1||1||18||32||2|
|Total attendance: 220,015 Average attendance: 44,003|
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