Dodgers Lose 9-0, Lose NLCS, Ends Season
The best pitcher in baseball made 48 pitches in that third inning that sunk the Dodgers. The Dodgers lost to the Cardinals 9-0 losing the NL Championship Series in six games. The Dodgers go home, the Cardinals go to the World Series.
Sure people can point to Yasiel Puig in right field making a throw that Adrian Gonzalez mishandled, or a throw that sailed to the backstop. But it was Clayton Kershaw who made the pitches that made square contact with the Cardinal bats.
The inning started innocuously enough with opposing starter Michael Wacha grounding out. But then came up Matt Carpenter who previously couldn't buy a hit in the playoffs. He made Kershaw make 11 pitches. The 11th pitch was lined to right field where Puig wasn't, a double.
Carlos Beltran singled home Carpenter, the throw by Puig mishandled by Gonzalez which sent Beltran to second base. But it didn't seem to matter since Matt Holliday struck out looking for the second out.
But Yadier Molina singled. David Freese singled. Matt Adams walked on a questionable ball-four call by home plate umpire Greg Gibson. Shane Robinson singled, the throw by Puig airmailed.
Pete Kozma was intentionally walked to load the bases. Kershaw struck out Wacha, and finally was able to make the slow walk to the dugout as the Cardinal masses cheer waving their rally towels.
All told, four runs scored on five hits in that fateful third inning.
When the Cardinals scored five more in the fifth with the assist to some really shitty defense by the Dodgers, all thoughts of 2013 were over for the Dodgers.
Instead of the best pitcher in baseball catapulting his team to a Game 7, it was Wacha, the 22-year old who was drafted from Texas A&M last year, who sent his team to the World Series. It was Wacha who pitched seven strong scoreless innings allowing only two hits and one walk while striking out five.
Wacha seemed to have paralyzed the Dodgers, their batters not knowing if they were going to get his 95 mph fastball or his change up or his slider. It was a disappointing end for the Dodgers who went down meekly, the last 12 batters retired.
But look at what the Dodgers had. Matt Kemp was injured most of the season. Andre Ethier had leg problems in the final month of the season. Hanley Ramirez was playing with a broken rib, a bad back and lord knows what else. Yasiel Puig was a rookie. The bullpen peaked in July and August.
This team went on a 42-8 run for the ages, one the most spectacular things I had ever seen. It was a sight to see when all of us in the press box would just look at each other night after night trying to explain how this was happening.
There will be a couple of things the Dodgers will have to look at during the offseason. How big will Clayton Kershaw's contract be? Who will man third base? Will the four-man outfield continue to be a problem? Who will be in the bullpen? How will Chad Billingsley look after Tommy John surgery?
All told, things look better than they did in 2009 the last time the Dodgers lost in the NLCS. Then the McCourts had announced their divorce, and I knew continued success would be difficult for the team.
By the way, if I told you at the beginning of the season that the final pitch thrown by a Dodger would be thrown by Carlos Marmol, would you have believed me?