Cardinals 3, Dodgers 1 (final)
This is probably who you would want with three outs to go: Kemp, Ramirez and Crawford. Trevor Rosenthal, the Cardinals closer, entered the game. Kemp started by being called out on strikes on a pitch on the outside corner. Ramirez, two for three in the game and the only RBI, singled to center bringing the tying run to the plate. Crawford then looped a single over second base putting runners at first and second, bringing the potential winning run to the plate. On a 3-2 pitch, Uribe flew out to right field, with Ramirez tagging and going to third. Ellis then drilled the first pitch to the exact same spot as Uribe and the game was over. So, can the Dodgers pull off two wins with Clayton Kershaw and Zack Grienke? If they don’t the season is over.
Cardinals 3, Dodgers 1 (end of eighth)
Pat Neshek was brought on to pitch for the Cardinals and Gordon grounded out to first and Puig returned to his former form by striking out. Gonzalez, who has been having trouble at the plate, flew out to left. That leaves the Dodgers down by two with three outs to go but with Kemp, Ramirez and Crawford coming up.
Brian Wilson came into pitch for the Dodgers and Peralta took the first pitch down the left-field line for a double. Can you say Arson Squad? Adams was walked intentionally to set up a force. Molina was called out on strikes. Mattingly then went for the matchup and brought in J.P. Howell to face Jay, who singled to left-center loading the bases. Wong, who hit the go-ahead home run in the seventh, grounded into a pitcher to home to first double play. Do the Dodgers have hope with three outs to go? We’ll know soon enough.
Cardinals 3, Dodgers 1 (end of seventh)
Uribe hit the ball well but Grichuk pulled it in nicely in right field. Ellis, who has played well, struck out. Scott Van Slyke was brought into pinch-hit for Ryu and he ended the half-inning by grounding to short. It was Lackey’s 100th pitch so he may also be done for the night. Both starters performed admirably and the winner will be determined by the bullpen, which may not work in the Dodgers’ favor.
As the rain came, the Dodgers sent Scott Elbert to the mound. On the first pitch Molina sent a ball to the left-field corner and he was on second base. Jay put down a perfect sacrifice bunt and Molina was on third. Wong, the No. 8 hitter, sent a ball deep to right field and the Cardinals were up, 3-1. Yes, a home run off the bullpen by the No. 8 hitter. Oscar Tavares was brought on to hit for Lackey and he grounded out to first. No surprise followed as Carpenter laced a ball down the right-field line for a double. Mattingly emerged from the dugout and Brandon League was brought in to pitch. The first pitch to Grichuk was a single to left but Carpenter held up at third. Holliday then grounded to the pitcher and with a bit of luck League stopped the ball and threw him out at first.
Cardinals 1, Dodgers 1 (end of sixth)
Well, what a way to end a string of seven straight strikeouts. Puig sent a ball down the right-field line that rattled around enough for him to use his speed to get a triple. Gonzalez missed yet another RBI chance when he flew out to shallow left field. Kemp then chased a low and outside ball to strike out. But it was Ramirez who stroked a first pitch into right field for an RBI double and the game was tied. Crawford struck on a ball in the dirt to end the inning.
Holliday grounded to third to open the Cardinals half of the inning. Peralta lined a 3-2 pitch to center in what was looking like Ryu’s last inning since he is up third in the top of the seventh. Brian Wilson started to get loose in the bullpen. Adams lined to center for the third out. Ryu had an excellent outing giving up one run with 94 pitches.
Cardinals 1, Dodgers 0 (end of fifth)
Uribe struck out to start the inning. Ellis, who has been a tough out, walked on a 3-2 pitch. Ryu laid down a perfect bunt down the first-base line but with two outs the Dodgers needed a single from Gordon to score a run. But that didn’t happen as Gordon grounded to first to end the inning.
Lackey hit a lazy fly ball to center on the first pitch. Carpenter then grounded the second pitch to shortstop. And Grichuk lined to short on the fourth pitch. Seven pitches for Ryu making it pretty clear the sixth, if not seventh, inning is within his reach.
Cardinals 1, Dodgers 0 (end of fourth)
Kemp hit a dribbler to second for the first out of the inning. Ramirez flew to center field and Crawford grounded out to Lackey on his 59th pitch. Pretty easy sailing for Lackey.
Molina was out on one pitch with a swinging bunt and was thrown out by Ellis. Jay then hit a shot back through the box into center field for another Cardinals runner. Wong grounded into a double play, second to short to first. All in all, an easy inning for Ryu.
Cardinals 1, Dodgers 0 (end of third)
Gordon was Lackey’s third strikeout victim going down on a pitch inside and in the dirt. Puig, who had struck out six straight times, made it an unlikely seven. Not what you want from the No. 2 hitter, or any hitter for that matter. Gonzalez grounded weakly to second and Lackey had his best inning of the game.
No surprise who is the most valuable Cardinal. Carpenter led off the inning with a towering home run to right-center, his third of the series, to give the Cardinals the lead. What’s remarkable is that Carpenter only hit eight during the regular season. Grichuk then flew out to left field but Holliday singled to right to give the Cardinals another base runner. Ryu was starting to struggle as his pitch count climbed but he still struck out Peralta with a couple of change ups. Adams hit a difficult pop up that Ramirez caught in shallow left-center.
Dodgers 0, Cardinals 0 (end of second)
Hanley Ramirez opened with a single that was almost caught by Grichuk. The Dodgers got their leadoff batter on base for the second straight inning. Carl Crawford made the first out of the inning with a fly out in foul territory to left field. With Ramirez running on the pitch, Juan Uribe sent a towering shot to deep center that was caught by Jon Jay. A.J. Ellis got the third Dodger hit with a single to right field but Ryu ended the inning by striking out. That’s three stranded Dodger runners so far.
Matt Adams gave the Cardinals a leadoff batter on base with a single to right. And Molina made it back-to-back with a single to center. Ryu caught a break on a 3-2 pitch when Jay swung on a pitch in the dirt for the first out. Kolten Wong grounded to second for a fielder’s choice at second bringing up pitcher John Lackey. Sound familiar? Lackey played tough running the count to 3-2 before grounding out shortstop to first.
Dodgers 0, Cardinals 0, end of first inning
Dee Gordon, who had been 1 for 9 in the series, opened with a single to center. On the first pitch he got a great jump and stole second and the Dodgers had their first runner in scoring position. But Yasiel Puig struck out on a 1-2 pitch. On a 1-0 pitch to Adrian Gonzalez, Yadier Molina, one of the best catchers in the game, let the ball go off his glove for a passed ball and Gordon was on third with one out. In an opportunity wasted, Gonzalez popped out in foul territory to shallow left field and Gordon had to stay at third. It was all up to the red-hot Matt Kemp but he flied out to center field. A good chance lost for the Dodgers.
This is where we would start to see how Hyun-Jin Ryu would look after being off for three weeks. The first batter, Matt Carpenter, went Ryu’s way with a strike out in five pitches. Randal Grichuck then was called out on strikes in four pitches. Matt Holliday worked a 3-2 count and Ryu threw the ball right down the middle, but it was called a ball and the Cardinals had their first runner of the game. Jhonny Peralta then grounded out to Juan Uribe at third and the inning was over.
The view from St. Louis
Back in St. Louis, where they take this red-state, blue-state thing very seriously, they are gearing up for their postseason opener tonight against the Dodgers.
Here’s a look at what they’re saying back in St. Louis, beginning with its only daily newspaper.
From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
Columnist Bernie Miklasz wonders how much home-field advantage really means in the postseason. Noting that the Cardinals were tied for the second-best home record in baseball, (51-30), but the Dodgers had the best road record (49-32), he writes:
"The so-called home-field advantage hasn't meant much so far this postseason. Through Sunday, the visiting teams are 7-5. That includes San Francisco (2-0), Kansas City (2-0) and Baltimore (1-0).”
Miklasz also has an explanation for why Matt Carpenter has turned the Dodgers into his personal whipping boy. He’s been getting needed rest:
Over the last two seasons (including the postseason), Carpenter has had more plate appearances -- 1,511 -- than any MLB player. He plays a lot of ball. He goes hard. He doesn't get many days off.
Over the last two seasons Carpenter also seen the most pitches -- an astounding 6,378. (Carpenter and the Angels' Mike Trout are the only MLB hitters to see more than 6,000 pitches since the start of last season.)
Cardinals beat reporter Derrick Goold said postseason games frequently turn on the home run, something not a typical St. Louis strength:
The Cardinals have scored 12 runs, seven on homers in this series against LA. The Dodgers have scored 12 runs, five on homers.
The Cardinals have four homers in the series.
Only one other time since the All-Star break have they had as many in a two-game stretch. Seriously, once.
Reporter Rick Hummel said one unexpected Dodger has killed the Cardinals pitching the first two games:
A.J. Ellis, the Dodgers’ No. 8 hitter, who batted .191 during the regular season, has five hits, including a home run, in his eight at-bats. But Ellis had hurt the Cardinals last season in the playoffs, too, batting .316 after hitting only .238 in the regular season.
The Cape Girardeau, Mo., native is quick to point out that he really hasn’t done much against the Cardinals in the regular season, and he would be correct. Before this season, Ellis was only 12 for 72 (.167) against the Cardinals, but he hit .286 (six for 21) this year.
Columnist Joe Strauss said Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly is handling the minefield that is the Dodgers bullpen with relative composure:
Rather than grow defensive about the situation, Mattingly exudes calm. He handles problems like a guy who had a front-row seat to the Steinbrenner circus in New York. He also realizes he was hours away from being fired as manager last season and lived to smile about it.
Mattingly called Friday’s decision to let Kershaw become liable for eight earned runs “a no-brainer.” Likewise, he offered no regrets for hooking Greinke from Saturday’s two-hitter-in-progress. We’re getting to see what Mattingly has seen most of the summer.
MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch writes the extra rest teams get in the postseason also has helped closer Trevor Rosenthal gain increased velocity:
Rosenthal reached at least 99 mph nine different times during his 20-pitch inning in Game 1. In comparison, he registered that high on the radar gun just 43 times against the 308 batters he faced during the regular season. In 2013, he threw 113 pitches at 99 mph or higher.
Looking at the average velocity of Rosenthal's fastball in each of his 73 outings (including the NLDS appearance) this season, the five highest have all come within the past three weeks.
David Wilhelm of the Belleville News-Democrat notes that John Lackey was 3-1 with a 2.57 earned-run average in the playoffs last season, beating the Cardinals, 6-1, in the clinching Game 6 of the World Series at Fenway Park. And a game like tonight’s is why he’s here:
Lackey, 35, said preparing for a division series game isn't much different than pitching in the World Series. The Cardinals' situation is no less serious after the Dodgers tied the best-of-five series at one game apiece with a 3-2 win on Saturday.
"Not much different," said Lackey, who is 14-10 overall and 3-3 with the Cardinals. "They're all important games this time of year. I try to approach it like most of my starts. The last five days, I've stayed in my routine of getting ready.”
Dodgers, Cardinals lineups for Game 3
Yasiel Puig struck out four times Saturday, but will remain the No. 2 hitter in the Dodgers lineup for Game 3 of their National League division series against the St. Louis Cardinals.
With the series tied at one game apiece, the Dodgers will field the same lineup Monday as they did in the two previous games of the best-of-five series.
That lineup has collected 24 hits in the series. Cleanup hitter Matt Kemp is five for nine with a home run and No. 5 hitter Hanley Ramirez is three for seven. Catcher A.J. Ellis, who batted .191 in the regular season is five for eight with two runs batted in and four runs scored.
With the Dodgers starting a left-hander in Hyun-Jin Ryu, the Cardinals have made some adjustments to their lineup.
Left-handed-hitting Jon Jay was dropped from the second spot to the seventh. Randal Grichuk, who batted eighth in Game 2, will hit second. Right-handed-hitting Jhonny Peralta will trade places with the left-handed-hitting Matt Adams, with Peralta batting fourth and Adams fifth.
Dodgers: Dee Gordon 2B; Yasiel Puig CF; Adrian Gonzalez 1B; Matt Kemp RF; Hanley Ramirez SS; Carl Crawford LF; Juan Uribe 3B; A.J. Ellis C; Hyun-Jin Ryu P.
Cardinals: Matt Carpenter 3B; Randal Grichuk RF; Matt Holliday LF; Jhonny Peralta SS; Matt Adams 1B; Yadier Molina C; Jon Jay CF; Kolten Wong 2B; John Lackey P.
Dodgers need to score a lot of runs
That vaunted Dodgers’ offense, that team that led the National League in on-base percentage and was second in runs, average and slugging percentage, had best show up big time tonight.
The team I said had the deepest lineup in the N.L., had best prove it. There had best be Dodgers circling the bases, silencing that way-too-red crowd at Busch Stadium, making John Lackey wonder of these are really the same Dodgers he used to dominate.
Because you really can’t count on Hyun-Jin Ryu going pitching deep into Game 3. You can’t count on him for anything, really. And that means the Dodgers bullpen, which is not exactly where you want to hang the Dodgers’ season.
So the Dodgers best come out driving the ball, looking exactly like the league’s best offense.
Ryu’s thrown one inning since Sept. 6 and only 14 2/3 since Aug. 13. You know, early two months ago.
The Dodgers will probably be thrilled to get five innings out of him. Then they could turn the middle innings over to Dan Haren and the ninth to Kenley Jansen. Hey, it’s a plan.
It just feels like a very tenuous one. So they’d best have that offense in high gear. And from a historic perspective, that appears daunting.
Lackey is 5-3 with a 1.93 ERA in 11 career appearances (10 starts) against the Dodgers. Most of that was done back when he was with the Angels, but last season he made one start against the Dodgers and held them to two runs in eight innings and just three hits. He also lost, when outpitched by Ricky Nolasco.
Lackey will turn 36 later this month and went 1-2 with a 4.43 ERA in four September starts (22 1/3 innings), so maybe he’s wearing down. The Dodgers best make sure he does in Game 3.
With the series tied at a game apiece and each of the first two games being decide by a run, whichever team loses this game is in trouble.
Dodgers turn to Hyun-jin Ryu
Be honest now, how do you really feel about the Dodgers starting Hyun-Jin Ryu tonight for the first time in nearly a month in Game 3 of their division series with the Cardinals?
Bought into Manager Don Mattingly’s spiel that Ryu is this unique pitcher who has proved he can come back quickly and effectively from injury without needing a rehab assignment?
Certainly there is evidence to support that theory. Twice this season Ryu came back from injury and pitched like he’d never been away. Trouble is, he was recently.
The last time anyone saw Ryu on a mound was Sept. 12, when he threw one inning before leaving the game with a sore shoulder. His only time out since was during a 45-pitch simulated game Wednesday that the media was banned from watching.
Mattingly has talked about it being late in the season, the Dodgers having no concern about Ryu’s arm strength and claiming he should be able to throw 100 to 110 pitches.
I’m thinking not.
Because his last injury (strained buttock) came Aug. 13, Ryu has thrown remarkably little since. He made only three starts since returning from that injury before the shoulder barked again.
That means in the last 54 days, Ryu has thrown a total of 14 2/3 innings.
This doesn’t sound like someone ready to throw over 100 pitches tonight, or over 90 or maybe even over 80 (which is where he fell the last two times he came off injury).
In two career regular season starts against the Cardinals, Ryu is 1-1 with a 1.93 ERA. He also held them scoreless in seven innings in last year’s National League Championship Series.
He will be opposed by the Cardinals’ John Lackey, the former Angels’ ace and proven big-game pitcher. Lackey went 3-3 with a 4.30 ERA in 10 starts for the Cardinals after coming over in a midseason trade from the Red Sox.
But he’s been big in October. In 19 games (17 starts) he has a 3.03 ERA in the postseason. And right now, Ryu is the giant unknown.