The Bottom Line:

— The St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Washington Nationals on Monday afternoon by a score of 12-4 to even the series at 1-1.

— Starter Jaime Garcia only lasted 2 innings after giving up 3 walks and 1 earned run. The reality was that Garcia did not look comfortable on the mound. He was struggling with his location and was ineffective with his breaking pitches. This was a must-win game and it was imperative that Mike Matheny prevent the Nationals from getting more base runners, which seemed to be all but certain had Garcia kept pitching.

— The good news was that Jordan Zimmerman wasn’t much better. He only lasted 3 innings, giving up 5 runs on 7 hits. The Cards’ bats jumped all over him from the start and never slowed down.

Lance Lynn came in to relieve Garcia who was stellar besides letting up back-to-back home runs to Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche. I don’t about others, but I certainly often forget how valuable Lance Lynn has been to this team in 2012. In addition to just being a stud during the first half (11-4; 3.41 ERA) he is perhaps the Cardinals biggest tool on the pitching staff as he is a guy who can always fill for a spot-start and can just be dominant when coming out of the bullpen.

Allen Craig and Daniel Descalso each had solo home runs. The Cards bats really came to life today which was great to see. Just a complete opposite image from what we saw in yesterday’s game. They really did a nice job of staying through the ball and getting on base.

Carlos Beltran was an absolute boss today, hitting two bombs of home runs. We all know his history in the postseason and is very much proving his reputation as one that can truly rise when on the big stage.

— In the sixth inning, Joe Kelly threw one pitch and seemed to have given up an extra-base hit at the least to Danny Espinosa. However, Jon Jay made an absolutely spectacular catch — perhaps one of the best I have ever seen, jumping up against the wall making an extremely difficult catch. You can watch the video here.

The bullpen was great today. Edward Mujica gave up an earned run, but Joe Kelly, Mitchell Boggs, and Trevor Rosenthal all threw scoreless frames as the Cardinals bullpen, continuing the dominance that this bullpen has shown over the past few months.

When Jaime Garcia gave up that first run, I really got scared. I thought that this was it, and we were going to have to go to Washington down 2-0. They still have a very up-hill battle ahead of them. Though the series is at 1-1, the Cardinals now head to Washington D.C. for three straight games in this bizarre 2-3 format for this year’s playoffs. But if there’s anyone on this team with the experience needed to win such a crucial game, it’s Carp, and I’m excited to see him on the mound.

What’s Next: As said above, the Cardinals are headed to Washington D.C. to take on the Washington Nationals for at least two more games. They have last year’s Game 7 winner, Chris Carpenter, on the mound facing off against former Cardinal Edwin Jackson. As always, all pre and post game information can be found on CardsBlog.