SAN FRANCISCO -- The RallyEnchiladas have been assembled and they're ready to pop in the oven for Game 6 of the NLCS.
The Giants will try to pass their fifth win-or-go-home survival test against the St. Louis Cardinals, and we can only assume that right-hander Ryan Vogelsong had his traditional, saucy meal Saturday night.
Vogelsong has been tremendous in two postseason starts thus far, but he remarked several times how drained he was after beating the Cardinals in Game 2. That seven-inning, one-run, 105-pitch outing took a lot out of him. Now he'll have to summon strength again to help the Giants force a decisive Game 7.
Vogelsong is a tough pitcher for manager Bruce Bochy to read in an elimination game. He often pitches through a lot of traffic in the first couple innings, only to find a gear and retire 13 of 14, or something along those lines. So Bochy has to be a bit patient.
On the other hand, this is an elimination game, and Bochy has everyone in the bullpen -- including Madison Bumgarner and Tim Lincecum. So he can cover innings if Vogelsong just doesn't have it.
I asked Bochy whether he'd use Bumgarner or Lincecum first. He said it would be Lincecum, even though he's had just two days of rest since throwing 91 pitches in his Game 4 loss on Thursday.
There are a couple reasons for this. For one, the Cardinals crush left-handers who don't have a second career as designer jeans models. For another, and this one is down on the scale of importance, the Giants would be stuck without a rested Game 2 starter if they get to the World Series. Bumgarner remains very much in the offing to return to a World Series rotation after apparently finding something in his mechanics during his last side session.
More than anything, though, the Giants would trust Lincecum first because he's already thrived in that relief role and he can get ready faster than, well, microwaved enchiladas.
The Cardinals lineup is leaking oil. Carlos Beltran is back after missing Game 4, but now Matt Holliday is a late scratch for Game 6 after his lower back stiffened up. Holliday tried to take batting practice but had to shut it down.
Matt Carpenter, the Cardinals' favorite last-minute lineup replacement, is in the lineup at first base. Allen Craig moves to left field, and it's a windy night. So this move could impact the Cardinals' defense as well as their lineup. (Because we all know Holliday would never goof up a fly ball in the postseason.)