With their backs up against the wall, the Dodgers responded with a 6-4 victory over the Cardinals in Game 5 of the NLCS. The Dodger offense finally woke up, hitting four solo shots, including two from Adrian Gonzalez after not hitting a home run all series long. The Dodgers hope that offensive performance will continue in Game 6 at Busch Stadium tonight.
Down 3-2 and going back to St. Louis in search of two straight victories, the Dodgers have the luxury of sending the best pitcher in baseball to the mound for Game 6, Clayton Kershaw. There’s little doubt that Kershaw will be this years NL Cy Young award recipient for the second time in three years and tonight, he’ll need a Cy Young performance in order to force a decisive Game 7 tomorrow night.
If the Cardinals want to beat the Dodgers and advance to the World Series they’re going to have to beat someone who has allowed only one earned run in the postseason. Kershaw posted a 1.83 ERA during the regular season, but has been even better in the playoffs. In three starts in October, Kershaw has pitched 19 innings and has a staggering ERA of 0.47. In his only other start in the series, he went six innings and only allowed two hits with an unearned run, but the Dodgers couldn’t score and lost the game 1-0.
At 25, Kershaw has already accomplished so much, but he knows that the only thing that really matters is a World Series title. Kershaw has made it clear that he’s hungry for a championship and understands that these moments don’t come around very often. Game 6 will be his opportunity to thrive under pressure and add to his already impressive legacy. If the Dodgers can come out victorious in Game 6, it would put all the pressure on the Cardinals, who just last year blew a 3-1 series lead in the NLCS.
The Cardinals hope Michael Wacha can replicate his Game 2 performance, when he went 6.2 innings and only allowed five hits, but didn’t allow a run. The young right-hander has been phenomenal in both of his postseason starts with an ERA of 0.64. Both games he started were decided by a single run and the Dodgers will need to score early and often to rattle the 22-year-old rookie.
Wacha uses his fastball and change up and even though he has other pitches in his repertoire, he mainly counts on those two throughout the course of his starts. This will be the second time the Dodgers will see Wacha and they should be better prepared to face him after not having any experience against him in Game 2.
The key to the game will remain the same as it has been all series long, score early and often. Through five games, there have been an average of five runs combined per game and any lead feels insurmountable by the opposing team.
With Hanley Ramirez out of the Dodgers lineup, they’ll need Yasiel Puig, Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford to continue their offensive surge in Game 6. In Game 5, the offense finally showed it’s capable of scoring runs and they’ll need to in front of a rowdy St. Louis crowd.
The Dodgers will need to take advantage of having runners in scoring position and role players like Mark Ellis, Juan Uribe, A.J. Ellis and any pinch hitter that comes into the game will need to deliver with some hits if the Dodgers want to extend the series.
Game 6 will be at 5:30 PST and it will be aired on TBS.
In case you missed it, here’s the Adrian Gonzalez “Mickey Mouse” Game 5 celebration!