Ballpark effects are real. They details might adjust over time but it doesn’t take an actuary to know that some parks are kinder to pitcher than others. Some parks, due to their dimensions and atmospheric conditions or altitude, are the site of more home runs than others. Smart teams maximize the characteristics of their home park, seeking to develop talent more likely to thrive under the specific conditions guaranteed for half the club’s games.

That said: you can’t hide forever. If you groove a fastball at 88 mph, it’s going out. You can play at Fenway or Petco or the Estadio Azteca for all I care: big league hitters can take junk deep anywhere.

The home run bug bit Madison Bumgarner again. He gave up two more big flies in less than four innings of work, putting his Giants into a hole from which they could not climb. Completely unsurprising home runs by David Freese (duh) and Carlos Beltran (double duh) gave the Redbirds a comfortable margin, one they would not relinquish. Lance Lynn tried his hardest but the Cardinals hung on to win 6-4, grabbing a 1-0 series lead (as is expected after the first game.)

The first game of the League Championship series continues a theme from the Division series, both starters failed to pitch deep into the game, leaving a tremendous amount of work for the bullpens. Both pens shut the door effectively, allowing just two hits between the pair of them. Both by Cardinals pitching. The Giants relievers didn’t allow a single hit all night. Not one.), striking out 9 in just under 11 combined innings.

The Chart That Destroys Dreams

Source: FanGraphs

The Stupidish Thing That the Manager Did

Some question the manner in which Mike Matheny deployed his relievers, using converted starter Joe Kelly for just four batters before yanking him for his lefty “specialist” Marc Rzepczynski. The only reliever asked to pitch more than one inning was Tim Freaking Lincecum, who is not even a normal person, let alone a normal reliever.

Matheny, to the credit of the entire Cardinals organization, has an amazing assortment of weapons in his bullpen. He has men like Lynn (usually) and Kelly who started regularly this year and arms like Trevor Rosenthal who started in the minors but emerged as an impact arm this fall. He can burn through those arms without even getting into the established back of his bullpen.

Much like the 2011 Cardinals, the bullpen was a problem most of the year before the team loaded up with arms that wouldn’t ordinarily be “squandered” in the bullpen. How did the Cardinals fare last season with that rebuilt bullpen, anyway?

Criticize Matheny for leaving Lynn in two batters too many or not getting enough out of Kelly or burning RZep early but John Mozeliak created something special: an idiot proof bullpen. Maybe using every guy every night isn’t the best plan for a seven game series but, hey, they only need to win three more now.

The Play of the Game

David Freese doesn’t do too much. He plays a tidy third base, he gets hurt, and he hits immense post-season home runs. Like his fourth inning long ball tonight, which increased the Cardinals win expectancy by more than 20%. Not bad for a guy traded for Jim Edmonds.

The Shamsky Award

Named after Art Shamsky, who single-handedly increased the Cincinnati Reds’ chances of winning by 150.3% in a losing effort during a game in 1966, The Shamsky Award is given to the player on the losing team who contributes the most to them winning.

Timmy, who remains the best. No position players could muster much in the way of offense when the game was actually, you know, in doubt. But Timmy provided six crucial outs. Not much but it wins him this award in addition to my eternal devotion.

Tweets of the Night

Three Stars

1. Whoever Designed The Uniforms. Because they’re outstanding.

2. Whoever Invented High Sock Sundays. Because they’re outstanding.

3. All the Relievers. Because they were outstanding.