Cardinals 10, Dodgers 9 (end of game)
The Dodgers made it a frenetic finish but fell a run short when closer Trevor Rosenthal, who had given up two hits and run already in the ninth inning, struck out a swinging Yasiel Puig on a 1-2 count with Andre Ehtier on third base.
Juan Uribe began the bottom of the ninth inning by striking out, but A.J. Ellis singled to right field and Andre Ethier doubled to left. Dee Gordon grounded out to second to bring home Ellis and move Ethier to third base, setting up Puig's dramatic at-bat.
The Cardinals didn't go quietly in the top of the inning, with Jon Jay singling to left field to open the inning against reliever J.P. Howell. Daniel Descalso put down a sacrifice bunt before Howell retired Matt Carpenter on a fly ball to center. Brandon League came in to face Randal Grichuk, who grounded out to shortstop.
Cardinals 10, Dodgers 8 (end of eighth inning)
Pedro Baez was left in to face Yadier Molina and got him to ground out to second to start the inning. Scott Elbert came in to pitch for the Dodgers and struck out Matt Adams on three pitches. Elbert ended the inning when he struck out Pete Kozma.
The Dodgers were not ready to give up. Gonzalez’s two-run homer to deep right field brought life to the suddenly quiet Dodger Stadium crowd and gave the Dodgers a glimmer of hope with three outs to go. The inning started when Carpenter hurt the Dodgers again, this time with a strong defensive play on a high chopper to third base, throwing out the speedy Dee Gordon. Yasiel Puig then walked on four pitches, signaling the exit of Carlos Martinez. Randy Choate became the sixth Cardinals pitcher and on his third pitch to Adrian Gonzalez it became a two-run game on a homer to right-center field. Pat Neshek was brought in to face Matt Kemp, who grounded out to second base. But then Hanley Ramirez singled to center field, bringing the tying run to the plate. Justin Turner was brought in to pinch hit for Crawford but hit a grounder to third, with Carpenter making the force out at second.
Cardinals 10, Dodgers 6 (end of seventh inning)
Oh, my. In what has to be a meltdown of historic proportions the Dodgers gave up eight runs and seemingly gave away a game they had no way of losing. Matt Holliday opened the inning with a single to center, and that wouldn’t be his only at-bat of the inning. Jhonny Peralta then singled to left-center field and Yadier Molina singled to center to load the bases. Matt Adams then took a 1-2 Kershaw pitch and sent it to center to score Holliday.
A hush was starting to fall over Dodger Stadium as a game the Dodgers seemingly couldn’t lose was slipping away, fast. Kershaw got his ninth strikeout by getting Pete Kozma on three pitches. However, Kershaw’s 99th pitch was a single to left field by Jon Jay and the Dodgers' lead was now just two with the bases loaded. Manager Don Mattingly came to the mound but elected to keep Kershaw in and he struck out Oscar Tavares on three pitches.
It led to a classic matchup with Matt Carpenter, who homered in his last at-bat, and on the eighth pitch he hit a bases-clearing double. Pedro Baez came in to pitch and walked Randal Grichuk before Holliday hit a three-run homer. The inning ended, finally, when Peralta grounded out to short.
Game over? Are the Dodgers a defeated team? Or will this turn into a game for the ages?
The Dodgers were looking like a defeated team when Carlos Martinez came in to pitch for the Cardinals. Juan Uribe started by striking out and then A.J. Ellis popped out in foul territory to Matt Adams at first base. Andre Eithier, who was part of a double switch when Kershaw was relieved, grounded out to second. This inning has all the makings of defining the series unless the Dodgers can rally.
Dodgers 6, Cardinals 2 (end of sixth inning)
OK, Clayton Kershaw is allowed a second mistake. With two outs, Matt Carpenter deposited the first pitch of hit at-bat into the right-center field stands to draw the Cardinals one run closer. But still, with Kershaw having thrown only 81 pitches, he’s likely to make it to the eighth inning, leaving relief duties to close Kenley Jansen. Jon Jay opened the inning by grounding to second and Peter Bourjos, a former Angel, was called out on strikes. The inning ended when Adrian Gonzalez made a diving catch of a foul ball hit by Randal Grichuk.
A quiet bottom of the inning for the Dodgers. Matt Kemp opened by singling to center off new pitcher Marco Gonzalez. It was Kemp's third hit of the game. Hanley Ramirez then flew out to right field before Carl Crawford grounded into a double play.
Dodgers 6, Cardinals 1 (end of fifth inning)
Clayton Kershaw is looking nearly unhittable, and with what would become a five-run lead he looks unbeatable. He ran his strikeout string to five in a row by getting Jhonny Peralta on three pitches and Matt Adams on six. Pete Kozma ended the inning by popping to first baseman Adrian Gonzalez in foul territory. Has anyone noticed Kershaw is throwing a one-hitter?
The Dodgers seemingly put the game on ice when A.J. Ellis, who started the fourth inning rally, gave the bubble machine a workout by sending a 1-1 pitch into the left-field seats for a two-run homer. It started when Carl Crawford got his second hit on the ninth pitch of an at-bat against Wainwright by singling to center. Juan Uribe then struck out on Wainwright’s 99th pitch of the game. Ellis then delivered the dagger that sent Wainwright to the dugout.
Sam Freeman was called in from the bullpen and proceeded to walk Kershaw on five pitches. Was it the Cardinals intention to slow him down by having him run the bases? Nope. Kershaw got to walk to second base when Freeman walked Dee Gordon, bringing in reliever Seth Maness. Yasiel Puig then grounded into a fielder’s choice, putting runners at the corners. Gonzalez was called out on strikes to end the inning.
Dodgers 4, Cardinals 1 (end of fourth inning)
Clayton Kershaw seems to have found a groove and that soon-to-be three-run lead can seem daunting to the Cardinals. In the inning, Kershaw threw 16 pitches and struck out the side. Randal Grichuk couldn’t repeat his first inning home run and struck out on five pitches. It took four pitches to take down Matt Holliday. Jhonny Peralta was a little tougher, running the count to 3-2 before striking out. Kershaw has struck out five through four innings.
This might have been the inning the Dodgers broke it open by scoring two runs. A.J. Ellis opened with a single to center and Kershaw was called upon to deliver his second sacrifice bunt, which he did to Ellis on second. Dee Gordon, who struck out twice, hit a slow roller toward third that he almost beat out, but didn’t, moving Ellis to third. Puig worked the count to 3-2 before singling through the left side of the infield to score Ellis. Adrian Gonzalez walked on five pitches and the Cardinals bullpen started to get busy. Matt Kemp then delivered on a 1-1 pitch that he lined to right field to score Puig. Hanley Ramirez ended the inning by flying out to right. Wainwright is now at 85 pitches.
Dodgers 2, Cardinals 1 (end of third inning)
Clayton Kershaw breezed through the top of the third and has only thrown 39 pitches, five less than Wainwright but with one more inning. It started with a strikeout of Jon Jay and then Wainwright popped up to Carl Crawford in left while Matt Carpenter popped out to shortstop Hanley Ramirez in shallow left field.
It didn’t take long for the bad blood between the Dodgers and Cardinals to show up. And when the inning was over it looked as if it fired up the Dodgers. The inning started when Yasiel Puig was hit in the shoulder by a pitch that did not look intentionally targeted. As Puig walked to first the next batter -- Adrian Gonzalez -- walked up to catcher Yadier Molina and things escalated. The umpire separated them as the benches emptied. In an attempt to cool things down Wainwright went to Puig and appeared to tell him it was unintentional. Puig seemed to accept the explanation.
Gonzalez then grounded to first but Puig was able to advance to second. Matt Kemp then flew out to left. But Ramirez, with two outs, tied the score with a ground ball to right field to bring home Puig. Ramirez stole second on the first pitch to Crawford. That base became extremely import when Crawford then hit a ground-rule double that bounced into the right-field seats. Crawford took third on a wild pitch but Uribe flew to deep center to end the inning. Wainwright is now up to 59 pitches in just three innings.
Cardinals 1, Dodgers 0 (end of second inning)
Clayton Kershaw settled down in the second with a 1-2-3 inning. Yadier Molina started by grounding out to Dee Gordon at second. Matt Adams lifted a lazy fly ball to Carl Crawford in left field and then Pete Kozma hit a short chopper that catcher A.J. Ellis picked up and threw to first for the putout. So far, Kershaw has thrown 29 pitches, 18 of them for strikes.
Carl Crawford led off the Dodgers' side of the second by striking out. Juan Uribe took a 2-2 pitch and lofted it just over the shortstop for the Dodgers third hit of the game. Ellis got the fourth hit with a seeing-eye single up the middle. With one out, Kershaw predictably was called upon for a sacrifice bunt and dropped a perfect one down the third-base line to put runners at second and third. Gordon, who looked bad in his first at-bat, struck out to end the inning but it took Wainwright 10 pitches to record the out. Wainwright has already thrown 44 pitches, 30 for strikes. The Dodgers have stranded four runners.
Cardinals 1, Dodgers 0 (end of first inning)
With a 1-0 lead it was Adam Wainwright’s turn to see if this was going to be the battle of the super pitchers. Well, he got some help from Dee Gordon when he swung at a 2-2 pitch in the dirt for a strikeout to lead off the bottom of the first inning.
Yasiel Puig sent an 0-2 flair into right field to give the Dodgers their first base runner. Adrian Gonzalez, the National League RBI leader, couldn’t move Puig anywhere as he struck out. Matt Kemp then laced a single to right field with Puig running to third base to put runners at the corner. But it was all for nothing when Hanley Ramirez hit the ball right at third baseman Matt Carpenter to end the inning.
Cardinals 1, Dodgers 0 (middle of the first inning)
Clayton Kershaw certainly looked like he was at top form with the first batter Matt Carpenter, striking him out on four pitches. But Randal Grichuk, who had only three homers all season, put a hanging curveball into the left-field stands to give the Cardinals a first-inning lead. Kershaw was able to get the next two batters -- Matt Holliday lining out to Dee Gordon at second and Jhonny Peralta hitting a lazy fly to Yasiel Puig in center -- with little trouble.
Dodgers could ask Jansen for four or more outs
In light of the troubles the Dodgers have encountered pitching the eighth inning, Manager Don Mattingly said he would consider asking closer Kenley Jansen to get more than three outs.
“We’ll definitely go four out with Kenley,” Mattingly said.
Three of Jansen’s 44 saves were four-out saves.
Jansen also entered a game in the eighth inning on Aug. 14 in Atlanta. He blew a lead in the ninth inning and the Dodgers went on to lose.
“I think we did it three or four times this year and he was pretty good at it,” Mattingly said. “The one outing, I think, he had trouble. But for the most part, any time he’s really rested and it was a game we felt we needed, we would do that.”
Asked if he would consider asking Jansen to more than four outs, Mattingly said, “It would be tougher to go further than that, but you know what? You’re going to do what you have to do to win games at this point. These guys didn’t come here this far and go, ‘Oh, I’m tired, I really don’t want to get five outs, Donnie.’ They’re going to go, ‘I want to win.’ So that’s what we’re going to try to do.”
The line of the day was delivered by Zack Greinke, who spoke to reporters about his upcoming start in Game 2.
Two questions into the news conference, Greinke asked a question of his own: “Are these questions going to get better?”
Mattingly acknowledged the instability in the bullpen is the reason the Dodgers chose to have a 12th reliever on their roster instead of an extra position player.
Last year, Mattingly said, the Dodgers knew Brian Wilson would pitch the eighth inning and Jansen the ninth.
“Now, we’re matching up, we’re multiple guys at the end of the game, so we’re just using more pitchers to get to where we need to go,” Mattingly said.
As for why Scott Elbert made the team over Paco Rodriguez, Mattingly cited Rodriguez’s recent back-muscle injury.
“We were a little uncomfortable with him finishing an inning and warming back up,” Mattingly said. “Scotty, we felt more flexibility and felt like he was going to bounce back a little easier than Paco.”
What others are saying about Dodgers-Cardinals series
Here’s a look at what some others are saying about the Dodgers-Cardinals division series.
USA Today’s Bob Nightengale thinks St. Louis starter Adam Wainright is tired of hearing about how great Clayton Kershaw and others are:
“And no one is giving Wainwright a chance.
No wonder the man is going to this game with a chip on his shoulder, ready to remind folks that if Kershaw is the greatest pitcher in baseball, there's this guy from a Midwest city who at least belongs in the conversation.
`I know it's hard on him,’ Cardinals left fielder Matt Holliday says. `While he recognizes Clayton's excellence and dominance, I think he feels like sometimes he doesn't get the recognition he deserves.’ ”
David Wilhelm of the Belleville News-Democrat thinks there will be a different attitude from the Cardinals in the series, after they were frequently miffed at the Dodgers’ more flamboyant approach last year:
“St. Louis left fielder Matt Holliday doesn't expect the silliness to be on top when the teams meet again with so much on the line.
`I don't really pay much attention to that kind of stuff,’ he said. `We've already played them (two series) this year, so I don't think they've saved up more animosity for playing us in the postseason. If there was any sort of carryover from last year, they would have already tried to get that out or whatever.’ ”
Tyler Kepner of The New York Times is expecting a memorable pitching duel today:
"Kershaw and Wainwright are tall and physically imposing, with some of the nastiest individual pitches in the game. Expect an unofficial playoff record for knees buckled by curveballs."
Much of the pre-series attention has focused on the Dodgers’ bullpen, but ESPN.com’s Tim Kurkjian takes a look at St. Louis relievers:
“How good is the Cardinals' bullpen?
Good, but not the same as it was last season. That pen was unhittable most of the 2013 postseason, led by closer Trevor Rosenthal. But he has had control issues this season: forty-two walks in 70 1/3 innings. Carlos Martinez (4.03 ERA in 57 appearances), who has shuffled between the rotation and the bullpen, hasn't been quite the same lockdown guy in the eighth inning as he was down the stretch last season. And lefty Kevin Siegrist has seen his ERA go from 0.45 last year to 6.82 this season.
Bill Plunkett of The Orange County Register warns not expect the same series the two played last year:
“These aren’t those same Dodgers. And these aren’t those same St. Louis Cardinals either.
National League royalty, the two teams meet in the postseason a little earlier this year, in the best-of-five National League Division Series beginning Friday at Dodger Stadium. A year ago, the Cardinals ushered the Dodgers out of the postseason in six games in the NL Championship Series.
But the Dodgers return brawnier this time around.
`Last year we didn’t have Matt Kemp and Matt Kemp has been one of the best players in baseball the past three months,’ Dodgers GM Ned Colletti said. `We have added from last year’s playoff team to this year’s playoff team one of the best players in baseball – Matt Kemp. We’ve taken Dee Gordon, who was on the postseason roster as a pinch-runner (last fall) in lieu of a 12th pitcher as I recall – he was a pinch-runner, now he’s an All-Star second baseman.’ ”
All nine of Sports Illustrated’s baseball experts picked the Dodgers to win the division series against the Cardinals; all nine also picked the Nationals to defeat the Giants.
Staring lineups announced
Like Shania Twain sang, or some football coach said, or a wise parent cautioned before a first prom, you dance with the who brung you.
And so it is for the Dodgers. Their playoffs start today at 3:37 p.m. at Dodger Stadium in the division series against the Cardinals and they will send out the same basic lineup they’ve used throughout the second half:
Dee Gordon (second base), Yasiel Puig (center), Adrian Gonzalez (first base), Matt Kemp (right), Hanley Ramirez (shortstop), Carl Crawford (left), Juan Uribe (third), A.J. Ellis (catcher) and Clayton Kershaw (pitcher).
There are a few changes from the lineup the Dodgers used when they opened the National League Championship Series against the Cardinals last postseason.
Without a true leadoff hitter, Crawford batted first and Mark Ellis was in the No. 2 hole playing second. Andre Ethier was in center and batting seventh. Kemp was out with a foot injury.
One through eight, this is a stronger lineup that last year. Plus, Ramirez was immediately hit by a pitch, did not start the next game and then tried to play with fractured ribs.
The Dodgers led the majors with a .333 on-base percentage a .286 average with runners in scoring position this season.
The Cardinals lineup is: Matt Carpenter (third), Randal Grichuk (right), Matt Holliday (left), Jhonny Peralta (shortstop), Yadier Molina (catcher), Matt Adams (first), Pete Kozma (second), Jon Jay (center) and Adam Wainwright (pitcher).
Clayton Kershaw dominates ... social media
What are the baseball fans on social media saying this morning about Game 1 between the Dodgers and Cardinals? It's all about Clayton Kershaw and Adam Wainwright. A look:
To win, Cardinals must get to Dodgers' bullpen
It has been the Dodgers’ Achilles’ heel all season, or at least the most uncertain aspect to their team.
Their bullpen was supposed to be a great strength, backed with former All-Star closers Brian Wilson, Brandon League and Chris Perez, all waiting just to get the ball to closer Kenley Jansen.
Only the late innings have been a crap shoot all season. One night it’s Wilson in the eighth, then J.P. Howell or League, or lately, Pedro Baez. It’s hard to know what you’re going to get when the bullpen door opens in the seventh and eighth innings.
The Dodgers’ best hope is got get eight innings out of their starting pitchers – Clayton Kershaw, Zach Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu – and then hand the ball to Jansen in the ninth.
Only right now, the Dodgers can’t count on Ryu for eight innings. He’ll be making his first start in almost a month (sore shoulder) in Game 3 in St. Louis. How he does is another key for the Dodgers.
The Dodgers had yet to announce their playoff roster Thursday night, but Manager Don Mattingly did confirm that Perez will not be on it. So at least one young, very unproven arm will be in the bullpen.
If the Cardinals can get to it, the entire complexion of the series could change.
Kershaw vs. Wainwright is best vs. best
Ah, the pitching matchup. It’s kind of good. As in really, really good.
Two of the best, most competitive starting pitchers in baseball, scheduled to face off in the opening game of the National League division series between the Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals.
It’s Clayton Kershaw versus Adam Wainwright in what could prove the best pitching duel of the entire postseason.
Kershaw appears headed toward this third Cy Young Award, and a possible most-valuable-player award. All he did was go 21-3 with a 1.77 earned-run average and a 0.86 WHIP.
Wainwright, in five more starts, went 20-9 with a 2.38 ERA and 1.03 WHIP. Those are some crazy-good numbers, but not so good that someone didn’t preface a question to him Thursday by saying it was obviously overshadowed by Kershaw.
“Obviously, it was?” Wainwright said.
This is going to be so much fun. And within an hour, they should be pitching in the shadows!
Wainwright has every reason to feel his season was no less significant than Kershaw’s. But he’s never won a Cy Young (he’s been second twice and third once), despite going 103-53 with a 2.87 ERA in his last six seasons.
“He’s such a good competitor,” Kershaw said. “The first thing that really comes to mind when I think about him.
“It should be a fun day [Friday]. We both love to compete. I know he can hit a little bit too, so I’ve got to be ready for that.”
In his career during the regular season, Wainwright is only 4-5 against the Dodgers but with a 2.90 ERA. However, he’s only 1-2 with a 4.30 ERA at Dodger Stadium.
Kershaw is 5-5 lifetime with a 3.46 ERA against the Cardinals, but he lost twice to them last year in the National League Championship Series. It was just 1-0 in his first game, but he was blown out after four innings in the decisive Game 6. Not that he will use that as extra fuel.
“I don’t need any extra motivation,” Kershaw said. “I’m trying to win a World Series here, that’s plenty.”