….and here we go. Another game five – this one between two teams capable of winning a home game and winning this whole damn tournament. Both Game One starters make their returns to the hill, one hoping for a similar outing, while the other hopes for his control doesn’t abandon him once again.

Despite outscoring the Nats 23-9 in the first four games, the Cardinals just one more one-run loss away from ending their season. The 98 win Nationals are one loss from their dream season turning to a nightmare-ish winter of second guessing.

The deciding game goes at 8:30 pm EST at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. Wainwright versus Gonzalez. First year manager versus grizzled veteran of 17 Major League seasons, spanning almost 30 years. The most decorated team in the National League history versus a team without a World Series pennant.

Any other narrative stones left unturned? Let’s just start the game.

As Jayson Werth showed last night, he is one of the best in baseball at drawing out at bats, at seeing pitches and making pitchers work. In Game One, Adam Wainwright surrendered only a single to the Nats leadoff man. Werth struck out in the first inning, grounded out and singled in his final at bat of the day. Their first PA is the most interesting, in my mind.

Wainwright followed the first at bat of the day by throwing fastballs early in the count. Wainwright threw two tough pitches down and away, the first called a ball and the second pitch, in nearly the identical spot, called a strike. The Cards big right-hander then tried elevating his fastball to change Werth’s eye level, coming up and in with a heater, which Jayson Werth took for ball two.

Behind in the count, Wainwright threw a surprising (and filthy) curve which Werth swung through miserably. Just a nasty offering in a fastball count. With the count 2-2, Wainwright went back to the curve and got the swinging strike he wanted to register the K.

Wainwright stayed with a similar approach in the next Werth PA but started the Nationals right fielder with a curve in the final plate appearance of the game, getting briefly ahead in the count. Last night’s terrific plate appearance against Lance Lynn shows he can handle even the filthiest of curves.

That said: Wainwright’s curve is as filthy as it gets. Wainwright threw Jayson Werth 10 curveballs this year (including Game One) – Werth swung at five and whiffed four times. Easier said than done but a hitter like Werth needs to all but ignore the curve and attempt to jump on any fastballs he gets from Wainwright.

If it were so simple…we’d all be millionaires. Adam Wainwright’s willingness to pop that curveball into any count is what makes him so good, it says here.

And the line-up Mike Matheny sends out in support of his ace:

  1. J. Jay cf
  2. C. Beltran rf
  3. M. Holliday lf
  4. A. Craig 1b
  5. Y. Molina c
  6. D. Freese 3b
  7. D. Descalso 2b
  8. P. Kozma ss
  9. A. Wainwright p

And the line-up for the Washington Nationals, featuring newly-minted folk hero Jayson Werth at the very top.

  1. J. Werth rf
  2. B. Harper cf
  3. R. Zimmerman 3b
  4. A. LaRoche 1b
  5. M. Morse lf
  6. I. Desmond ss
  7. D. Espinosa 2b
  8. K. Suzuki c
  9. G. Gonzalez p

Here is a look at Gio’s offerings, via his Brooks Baseball player card.

What I wrote yesterday still stands: two excellent teams play tonight: only one will play Sunday. This is a shame but it is the reason we watch. Pretty excited for this one, not going to lie. Enjoy!