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Let's Not Forget the Pitching
Four hours after the Dodgers improbable 3-2 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals to give them a stout 2-0 lead in the National League Divisional Series, euphoria is still running through my veins.
The Cardinals had the game won. All left fielder Matt Holliday needed to do was make sure James Loney’s line drive got into his glove. Instead he lost the ball which hit him right in the gut. Whether he lost it in the lights or in the swirling white rally towels the fans were waving around is irrelevant.
The fact is Holliday committed the only error of the game, and in the postseason you never want to give the opposition extra outs. You especially don’t want to commit an error with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning when you are leading by one run.
Of course that would set the stage for the biggest postseason comeback since Kirk Gibson’s home run in game one of the 1988 World Series.
Having said that, it could be easy to overlook the great pitching performances turned in by the starters in this game.
First of all hats off to Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw. While his quotes from Wednesday’s press conference left a pit of anxiety in my stomach (“I’m nervous every time I pitch”) he passed his first postseason test with flying colors going 6 2/3 innings giving up only two runs on nine hits and an intentional walk with four strikeouts.
He got into some jams but was able to minimize the damage.
“It was like old-time baseball where your starter’s allowed to get out of jams,” manager Joe Torre said.
“This is what you save all those inning for during the season. Again, he was very economical going into the seventh inning. He pitched great.
“I was very comfortable watching Kershaw pitch today. I thought he responded to the challenge very, very well.”
Kershaw’s outing will probably be dwarfed by Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright’s monster start.
The Cy Young candidate had all of his pitches going. His fastball had lots of movement on it. His cutter and slider had Dodgers batters fooled. And that breaking ball had the Dodgers frozen like statues. All of it kept the rendered the Dodgers docile for eight innings while only notching one runs on three hits and a walk and a hit batter.
That’s right. Wainwright only allowed five base runners in eight innings.
“The quality of that was so good it’s almost impossible to describe under the circumstances,” Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said of Wainwright’s outing.
“He made quality pitch after quality pitch,” La Russa continued. “The lineup saw him several times. He kept making adjustments. Outstanding.”
“He’s tough to pick up the breaking balls,” Ronnie Belliard said. “He’s not a soft thrower. He got a good sinker, good cutter. I know that. I played behind him. And he’s tough.”
Tough indeed. When La Russa went into the bullpen in the bottom of the ninth inning you could sense the relief in the Dodgers dugout. The guy who had confounded them all day long is out, and they finally had a chance to put some runs on the board.
Well thanks to a Holliday assist (baseball’s equivalent of an own-goal), the Dodgers did put runs on the board.
Now they go into St. Louis with a swagger in their step and an opportunity to sweep their second consecutive NLDS.
MLB.com mixed Vin Scully's call of the game with the video feed from TBS from James Loney's at-bat to Mark Loretta's walk-off single. Check it out here