Game 1 of the NLCS was a thriller and unfortunately for the Dodgers, the Cardinals got the win with a Carlos Beltran walk off hit in the bottom of the 13th inning.
Today, the Dodgers have Clayton Kershaw on the mound and they’re hoping he can even up the series at one. In Kershaw’s two starts in the postseason he’s been quite impressive, pitching a total of 13 innings and has an ERA of 0.69 with 18 strikeouts. He pitched Game 4 on three days rest, but Kershaw looked sharp and now the Dodgers know they can count on him on short rest if necessary.
Kershaw did have some rough outings against the Cardinals this season. He faced them twice and went 0-2 with a 4.15 ERA. In both games, the Dodgers only managed to produce a combined 4 runs and they’ll need to provide him with better run support, especially after wasting several chances to win last night. Kershaw has faced the Cardinals in the postseason and earned a no decision in the 2009 NLDS, but the Dodgers won the game 3-2 and he went 6.2 innings and he allowed two earned runs.
Kershaw is hoping to fare much better this time around and the Dodgers will need him to avoid going back to Los Angeles down 0-2. The Cardinals do struggle against left handed pitching as they hit .238 against lefties in the regular season and only .167 in the NLDS. He posted the lowest ERA this season at 1.83 since Pedro Martinez in 2000 and he understands the magnitude of this game and after having the proper rest in between starts. Expect him to put the Dodgers on his back in this game and come out with a victory.
The Cardinals will counter with rookie right hander Michael Wacha and in his last two starts he has been equally as impressive as Kershaw. In the last game of the regular season he took a no hit bid into the 9th inning, but with only one out remaining, Ryan Zimmerman hit an infield single and broke it up. His next start, Game 4 of the NLDS in Pittsburgh with the Cardinals on the brink of elimination, Wacha had a no hitter going in the 8th inning until Pedro Alvarez broke it up with a home run.
The right hander’s pitching repertoire includes a 92-96 mph fastball, a very good changeup, curveball, and a cutter. During the regular season he was 4-1 with a 2.78 ERA, but prior to him pitching in the last game of the season, Wacha was two subpar outings in which he was 0-1 and allowed 6 earned runs. The Dodgers will have their hands full with Wacha, but must try and rattle the rookie early in order to have a shot at winning the game.
The Dodgers key to victory will be their offense as last night they were 1 for 10 with runners in scoring position and Yasiel Puig was 0-6. The Dodgers need to get on the board early and take advantage of runners being on base. They had 9 hits in Game 1, but left 11 runners on base.
Unfortunately for the Dodgers, Hanley Ramirez was scratched from the lineup and already without Andre Ethier, Kershaw is going to need to pitch a gem to avoid a 2-0 hole.
In case you missed it, here’s the home run that sent the Dodgers to the NLCS!