In terms of surprising outcomes, Friday night’s 9-0 victory by the St. Louis Cardinals ranks pretty high. It’s not just that the Cards beat up on the Dodgers. It’s the fact that they did it against Clayton Kershaw, perhaps the best pitcher in baseball right now, but more on that in a minute. With the victory, the Cardinals are headed to their second World Series in three years and fourth in the last ten years.
Now, back to Kershaw.
The Dodgers’ ace picked the least opportune time to have what might have been his worst start of the season. In four innings of work, the Cardinals roughed up Kershaw for seven runs on 10 hits and 2 walks. It was about as un-Clayton Kershawian as it gets in terms of starting pitching performances. No one could have possibly seen this one coming. Even Ed Carroll, while predicting the Cardinals would win, felt that we were all in store for another 1-0, pitching dominated Kershaw-Wacha matchup. It didn’t happen.
Speaking of Michael Wacha.
It looks like the Cardinals hit the lottery yet again. In what continues to be their m.o., the Cards are losing one ace caliber pitcher in Chris Carpenter, he has decided to retire, and will replace him for the next decade with Michael Wacha. Combine that with an already well established Adam Wainwright and it looks as if this will not be the Cardinals last trip to the World Series any time soon. Wacha was magnificent last night holding the Dodgers to only two hits over seven innings of work. For the NLCS, Wacha held the Dodgers scoreless for 13.2 innings allowing only 7 hits and 2 walks. He was outstanding.
Offensively, the Cardinals did their damage in the third and fifth innings putting together two big rallies that would eventually chase Kershaw from the game.
In the third innings, Carlos Beltran, Yadier Molina, and Shane Robinson each delivered with runners on base. Beltran and Molina each had an RBI single to make it 2-0 while Robinsion had the big blow. His two run single pushed the Cardinal’s lead to 4-0 and pushed their probability of victory to 91%.
In the fifth, with Kershaw still on the mound, the Cardinals struck again. This time the put together a five run rally and pushed their lead up to 9-0. After lead-off singles from Molina and David Freese, Matt Adams doubled them home. Three batters later, Michael Wacha’s ground out scored Adams. Matt Carpenter added a sacrifice fly, J.P. Howell uncorked a wild pitch, and Carlos Beltran singled to score Wacha. Boom, 9-0.
Meanwhile, the Dodgers couldn’t get anything accomplished offensively. After busting out in a big way with the long ball in game five, it looked as if they might have been ready to at least push this series to a game seven. It just wasn’t meant to be for a Dodgers team that had maybe more fun than any other this season.
The Cardinals will now sit and wait to see who they will play in this year’s World Series. The Red Sox currently lead the Tigers 3-2 with game six set for tonight.