Dodgers Dugout: 106 wins and second place seems wrong; Carl Erskine answers your questions

Dave Roberts salutes the crowd after the final game of the regular season.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell, and the regular season is over. If you had told me when the season began that the Dodgers would win 106 games and not win the division, I would not have believed you.

It’s easy right now to go back and look at a loss and say “What if?” What if the umpire doesn’t blow that check-swing call against the Giants? What if the Giants’ Mike Tauchman doesn’t catch that home run ball by Albert Pujols? What if the Dodgers didn’t have that 5-15 stretch? What if the Dodgers didn’t have so many injuries?

But there’s no sense in doing that. Don’t waste your energy, because when you’re done wondering, you come back to reality and are faced with the same situation. For every game the Dodgers might have won, there’s a game the Giants might have won. Both teams played 162 games. They are the two best teams in baseball. The Dodgers didn’t lose the division, the Giants won it. You take your cap off to them and hope to beat them in the NLDS.

Now, attention turns to the St. Louis Cardinals. They will play the Dodgers in a one-game wild-card playoff matchup on Wednesday at Dodger Stadium. First pitch will be at 5:10 p.m. PDT and will be televised on TBS and also be on ESPN radio.


We’ll talk more about that game on Wednesday, after we have more clarity on how serious is the injury to Max Muncy. His left elbow was hurt when Brewers baserunner Jace Peterson collided with him at first base. A photo of the incident showed his arm bending at an angle your arm is not supposed to bend. It would be really surprising if he plays Wednesday, with the big hope that he isn’t out for the entire postseason. We’ll just have to wait and see what the tests show on Monday.

I really don’t like one-game playoffs. I mean, anyone can win one game. The Diamondbacks could beat the Dodgers or Giants in one game. If MLB really wants to have two wild-card teams, what they should do is have a three-game wild-card playoff Monday-Wednesday. The wild-card team with the best record hosts all three games. This way you get a little better sense of who the best wild-card team is, and also give them a disadvantage of having to play three straight games before the division series starts, and if the wild card goes a full three games, the winning team would probably have to have their No. 4 starter on the mound for Game 1 of the LDS. If there is a division tiebreaker needed, then that could be played Monday and the wild-card series pushed to Tuesday-Thursday, with the LDS starting on Friday.

That, of course, is not a perfect solution either, but it’s better than what we have now, and I’d be saying that even if the Dodgers weren’t in it.

This was a great regular season. The Dodgers won 106 games everyone! Sure, there were some speed bumps along the way, but winning 106 games is a tremendous accomplishment.

So, we’ll meet back here on Wednesday to preview the wild-card game. In the meantime, a special treat....

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Carl Erskine answers your questions

Yes, legendary Dodgers pitcher Carl Erskine is next up in our “Ask...” series, joining such luminaries as Maury Wills, Peter O’Malley and Ron Cey.

Erskine, 94, pitched for the Dodgers from 1948-59, finishing with a 122-78 record and 4.00 ERA. He finished ninth in league MVP voting in 1953 when he went 20-6 with a 3.54 ERA. Even more amazing, Erskine spent almost his entire career pitching with a shoulder injury which caused him constant pain. “When they gave you the ball, you pitched. You had to be productive or you didn’t stay. That’s the way it was for everybody,” he said in his book, “Tales from the Dodgers Dugout.”

In the famous game in 1951 where Bobby Thomson homered off of Ralph Branca to give the New York Giants the pennant, Erskine was the guy warming up next to Branca when manager Charlie Dressen decided to go with Branca.

Erskine pitched a no-hitter in 1952 during a game that featured a 40-minute rain delay. In Game 5 of the 1952 World Series against the Yankees, Erskine gave up five runs in the fifth inning to put the Dodgers behind, 5-4.

“I had first class stuff, not much pain. The curve was sharp. We go into the fifth inning ahead by four runs. Do you remember the date? It was October 5. That was my fifth wedding anniversary. My control slips. A walk. Some hits. Mize rips me. I am behind 5-4 and here comes Dressen,” Erskine related in his book.


“I’m thinking, oh no. I got good stuff. I look at Dressen coming closer and I think, the numbers are against me. October 5, my fifth wedding anniversary, the fifth inning and I have just given the Yankees five runs. Five must be my unlucky number. Charlie says to give him the ball. You weren’t allowed to talk when he came out. He was afraid you might argue with him into leaving you in, and you had to wait on the mound for the next pitcher, so you wish him luck. Now Charlie has the ball. I’m through. The five runs have done me in. Suddenly Dressen says, ‘Isn’t this your anniversary? Are you gonna take Betty out and celebrate tonight?’”

Carl went on. “I can’t believe it. There’s 70,000 people watching, as many as in all of Anderson, Ind., and he’s asking what I’m doing that night! I tell him yes, I was planning to take Betty someplace quiet. To which he replied, ‘Well, then see if you can get this game over before it gets dark!’ ”

Erskine finished the game, which the Dodgers won, 6-5, in 11 innings. He pitched another no-hitter in 1956 and retired during the 1959 season. He pitched in five World Series, appearing in 11 games.

So, ask your questions. Send them to me at Make sure you include your first and last name and where you are from and that the subject line reads “Ask Carl Erskine”. Selected questions will be answered by Erskine in an upcoming newsletter. Thanks.

Clayton Kershaw

Well, if Friday was the final Dodger start of Clayton Kershaw‘s career, it wasn’t the best way to go out. He left the game with forearm tightness, which could mean any number of things. He will have tests done today to see what exactly is going on, so there’s not much to say right now. It’s unlikely he pitches in the postseason no matter the diagnosis.

Dodgers-Cardinals playoff history

Between them, the Dodgers and Cardinals have won 18 World Series titles, but since the start of league playoffs in 1969, they have faced each other five times. A look:

1985 NLCS
St. Louis 4, Dodgers 2

Dodgers’ main starters:

C-Mike Scioscia
1B-Greg Brock
2B-Steve Sax
3B-Bill Madlock
SS-Mariano Duncan
LF-Pedro Guerrero
CF-Ken Landreaux
RF-Mike Marshall

Cardinals’ main starters:

C-Darrell Porter
1B-Jack Clark
2B-Tom Herr
3B-Terry Pendleton
SS-Ozzie Smith
LF-Vince Coleman
CF-Willie McGee
RF-Andy Van Slyke

Game 1 (at Dodgers 4. St. Louis 1): The Dodgers knock Cardinals starter John Tudor out of the game in the sixth inning, with the biggest blow being Steve Sax‘s double. Fernando Valenzuela gives up one run in 6.1 innings and Tom Niedenfuer gets an eight-out save.

Game 2 (at Dodgers 8, St. Louis 2): Bill Madlock and Greg Brock each drive in two runs and Orel Hershiser goes all the way for the Dodgers in victory.

Game 3 (at St. Louis 4, Dodgers 2): Cardinals score all their runs off of Bob Welch in the first two innings.

Game 4 (at St. Louis 12, Dodgers 2): The Cardinals score nine runs off of Jerry Reuss and Rick Honeycutt in the second inning and Tito Landrum and Terry Pendleton each have three RBIs in the game.

Game 5 (at St. Louis 3, Dodgers 2): Moments after a graphic is shown on TV that reads “Ozzie Smith has never hit a home run batting left-handed,” Smith hits a home run batting left-handed in the bottom of the ninth off of Niedenfuer.

Game 6 (St. Louis 7, at Dodgers 5): Jack Clark. Tom Niedenfuer. First base open. Home run. Season over.

2004 NLDS
St. Louis 3, Dodgers 1

Dodgers’ main starters:

C-Brent Mayne
1B-Shawn Green
2B-Alex Cora
3B-Adrian Beltre
SS-Cesar Izturis
LF-Jayson Werth
CF-Steve Finley
RF-Milton Bradley

Cardinals’ main starters:

C-Mike Matheny
1B-Albert Pujols
2B-Tony Womack
3B-Scott Rolen
SS-Edgar Renteria
LF-Reggie Sanders
CF-Jim Edmonds
RF-Larry Walker

Game 1 (at St. Louis 8, Dodgers 3): The Cardinals score six runs in three innings off of Odalis Perez, including home runs by Jim Edmonds and Albert Pujols.

Game 2 (at St. Louis 8, Dodgers 3): Jeff Weaver gives up six runs and the Cardinals cruise to an easy win.

Game 3 (at Dodgers 4, St. Louis 0): Jose Lima pitches a five-hitter as the Dodgers win their first playoff game since 1988.

Game 4 (St. Louis 6, at Dodgers 2): Pujols has the key blow, a three-run home run in the top of the fifth off of Wilson Alvarez.

2009 NLDS
Dodgers 3, St. Louis 0

Dodgers’ main starters:

C- Russell Martin
1B-James Loney
2B-Ronnie Belliard
3B-Casey Blake
SS-Rafael Furcal
LF-Manny Ramirez
CF-Matt Kemp
RF-Andre Ethier

Cardinals’ main starters:

C-Yadier Molina
1B-Albert Pujols
2B-Skip Schumaker
3B-Mark DeRosa
SS-Brendan Ryan
LF-Matt Holliday
CF-Colby Rasmus
RF-Ryan Ludwick

Game 1 (at Dodgers 5, St. Louis 3): Matt Kemp hits a two-run homer in the first and the Dodgers also get RBIs from Rafael Furcal, Casey Blake and Russell Martin.

Game 2 (at Dodgers 3, St. Louis 2): Dodgers rallied with two runs in the ninth inning when left fielder Matt Holliday lost a two-out liner hit by James Loney in the lights and dropped the ball for an error.

Game 3 (Dodgers 5, at St. Louis 1): Dodgers jumped out to a 5-0 lead thanks in part to a two-run homer by Andre Ethier.

2013 NLCS
St. Louis 4, Dodgers 2

Dodgers’ main starters

C-A.J. Ellis
1B-Adrian Gonzalez
2B-Mark Ellis
3B-Juan Uribe
SS-Hanley Ramirez
LF-Carl Crawford
CF-Andre Ethier
RF-Yasiel Puig

Cardinals’ main starters

C-Yadier Molina
1B-Matt Adams
2B-Matt Carpenter
3B-David Freese
SS-Pete Kozma
LF-Matt Holliday
CF-Jon Jay
RF-Carlos Beltran

Game 1 (at St. Louis 3, Dodgers 2, 13 inn.): Chris Withrow gives up a single and a walk in the bottom of the 13th, giving way to Kenley Jansen, who gives up a game-winning single by Carlos Beltran. This is the game where Cardinals starter Joe Kelly hit Hanley Ramirez in the ribs with a pitch, injuring Ramirez and curtailing his effectiveness (he went two for 15) the rest of the series.

Game 2 (at St. Louis 1, Dodgers 0): The Cardinals score an unearned run in the fifth inning off of Clayton Kershaw and five Cardinal pitchers make it hold up.

Game 3 (at Dodgers 3, St. Louis 0): The Dodgers get RBIs from Adrian Gonzalez, Yasiel Puig and Hanley Ramirez while Hyun-jin Ryu (seven innings), Brian Wilson (one) and Jansen (one) shut out the Cardinals.

Game 4 (St. Louis 4, at Dodgers 2): The Cardinals score three runs in the top of the fourth off Ricky Nolasco, with the key blow a two-run homer by Matt Holliday.

Game 5 (at Dodgers 6, St. Louis 4): The Dodgers score four times in five innings against Kelly, with key homers by Gonzalez and Carl Crawford. Jansen gives up two runs in the ninth to make the game close.

Game 6 (at St. Louis 9, Dodgers 0): This is the game that started the belief that Kershaw was an ineffective postseason pitcher. He gave up three runs in the third and four more in the fifth as the Cardinals advanced to the World Series in a laugher.

2014 NLDS
St. Louis 3, Dodgers 1

Dodgers’ main starters:

C-A.J. Ellis
1B-Adrian Gonzalez
2B-Dee Gordon
3B-Juan Uribe
SS-Hanley Ramirez
LF-Carl Crawford
CF-Yasiel Puig
RF-Matt Kemp

Cardinals’ main starters:

C-Yadier Molina
1B-Matt Adams
2B-Kolten Wong
3B-Matt Carpenter
SS-Jhonny Peralta
LF-Matt Holliday
CF-Jon Jay
RF-Randal Grichuk

Game 1 (St. Louis 10, at Dodgers 9): The tone for the series was set in Game 1. Leading, 6-1, Clayton Kershaw couldn’t get out of the seventh inning as the Cardinals scored eight times.

Game 2 (at Dodgers 3, St. Louis 2): After the Cardinals tied the score in the top of the eighth off of J.P. Howell, Matt Kemp led off the bottom of the inning with a home run off of Pat Neshek. Kenley Jansen got the final three outs for the save.

Game 3 (at St. Louis 3, Dodgers 1): Kolten Wong hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the seventh off of Scott Elbert to break a 1-1 tie.

Game 4 (at St. Louis 3, Dodgers 2): Leading, 2-0, Kershaw again couldn’t escape the seventh, with the Cardinals scoring three times. Kershaw finished the series 0-2 with a 7.82 earned-run average.

In case you missed it

Nine reasons the Dodgers should worry about the Cardinals in the wild-card game

The last wave of Fernandomania played out in Texas, where fans rushed to see a legend

And finally

Vin Scully is interviewed on “Face the Nation”. Watch and listen here.

Until next time...

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