The St. Louis Cardinals did it again. Actually, to be completely accurate, Carlos Beltran did it again. The 36-year old outfielder came up huge in yet another postseason game. Thanks to him and roughly his 4,723rd clutch playoff moment (that’s a rough estimate) the Cardinals were able to edge out the Dodgers 3-2 on Friday night to take a 1-0 NLCS lead.
Both teams got spectacular outings from their starting pitchers. Joe Kelly went six innings and allowed only two runs to cross the plate on six hits and two walks. He also struck out five Dodgers on the evening. Manager Mike Matheny couldn’t have asked for more from Kelly, who was forced into the game one start because Adam Wainwright had pitched in Wednesday’s game five against the Pirates.
However, not to be outdone, Dodgers’ starter Zack Greinke also put together a masterful performance. He lasted eight innings and also allowed only two runs to cross the plate of a measly four hits and a walk. Greinke’s 10 strikeouts were also a career postseason high. Unfortunately, his outing would go to waste as the Dodgers were unable to push the go ahead run across the plate at any point for him.
The Dodgers took an early 2-0 lead in the top half of the third inning. With the bases loaded and two out after Carl Crawford was thrown out at home, Juan Uribe stepped to the plate and made more magic happen for himself. His single to center pushed Hanley Ramirez and Adrian Gonzalez across the plate and set the Dodgers up to have a potentially huge inning. It didn’t happen, though. Andre Ethier flied out to center to end the inning and the threat.
The Dodgers’ lead didn’t last long as the Cardinals got the two runs right back in the bottom of the third thanks to Carlos Beltran. Beltran, who is becoming a legend in the playoffs thanks to his .345 batting average (4th best all-time), .449 OBP (3rd best all-time), .750 Slugging (Best all-time), and 16 home runs (8th best all-time), stepped to the plate with two on and two out against Greinke. He smoked a ball to right center field that just barely missed being a home run and also just barely missed being caught by Ethier. The score would remain tied 2-2 .
Beltran also made a spectacular defensive play on the night to make sure the Cardinals didn’t lose this game. In the top of the tenth, after A.J. Ellis tripled with one out, Michael Young hit a fly ball to Beltran out in right. The not so fleet of foot Ellis attempted to tag and score on the play, but Beltran had none of it. He fired a strike to Yadier Molina to nail Ellis at the plate. Replay would show that Molina might never have actually tagged Ellis during their collision, but it was a great play none the less and kept the Cardinals hopes alive.
In the bottom of the 13th inning, Beltran once again played postseason hero. With one out and two runners on base, Beltran stepped to the plate against Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen. With the count at 3-1 and sitting dead red on a fastball, Beltran laced Jansen’s 92 mph offering down the right field line for the game winning hit and newest addition to the legend that is becoming Carlos Beltran.
With the win, the Cardinals take a 1-0 series lead into today’s game. The game 2 starters will be Clayton Kershaw for the Dodgers and Michael Wacha for the Cardinals. First pitch is scheduled for 4:07 pm and can be viewed on TBS.