The Cardinals did against the Red Sox what we were unable to do against the Cardinals.
We lost Game 1 in 13 innings, unable to capitalize on the few — yet strong — scoring opportunities in the late innings. Zack, outside of a three-batter stretch, was as good as I'd seen him, yet left the game after eight innings with the score tied 2-2. Playoff king
Down but still optimistic, we entered Game 2 of the NLCS with the momentum of having the best pitcher in baseball, Kershaw, on the hill for us. As Zack did, Clayton dominated, cruising through six innings on 72 pitches and allowing only an unearned run.
However, we were shut down by rookie sensation
The outstanding Cardinals pitching limited our chances, but we still had opportunities. With a big hit or a break, we could have been tied at a game apiece with the momentum in our direction instead of being depressed and distraught knowing we had to win four out of five from the toughest team in the league.
The Cardinals had limited chances Thursday night in Game 2 at Boston, but were able to come through just by simplifying their approaches and doing the job as they had all season long.
Why are their at-bats so consistent? Why do they hit so much better than the rest of the league with runners in scoring position? The answer, in a word, is unselfishness.
As a catcher back there trying to call pitches, I've seen how these Cardinals hitters take pride in hitting to the situation. They take chances for extra-base hits with no one on and shorten their swings with runners on base. They stay inside the baseball — which allows them to stay back and not be fooled by off-speed pitches — with runners in scoring position, using the middle of the field.
Case in point from World Series Game 2: Left-handed-hitting
If there is anything we have learned from the Red Sox, it's that this is far from over. This veteran-laden team will not panic and will come to St. Louis confident and ready to play with a slightly different, but still team-oriented approach to hitting.
Nobody makes opposing pitchers work harder than the Red Sox. Their goal is simple — drive up the starter's pitch count and feast on the middle relievers. The Red Sox are very selective early in the count, take the pitches designed to strike them out, foul off the pitches on the edges and never give up an at-bat.
For fans of counting pitches and golf, 15 pitches an inning is usually par. The Red Sox make certain most pitchers they face are so far over par they miss the cut. Even in his six impressive innings in Game 2, Wacha threw 114 pitches, placing him 24 pitches over and forcing him out of the game.
The Cardinals bullpen picked up the remaining innings with ease, but the Red Sox forced the young ace out of the game earlier than previous playoff opponents, while getting a better look at him in case of a Game 6 rematch.
The Cardinals' approach was implemented by current Dodgers hitting coach