Can young Stephen Fife hold up under the pressure of a pennant race? Photo: Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE

Stephen Fife's Biggest Game of His Young Career Could Give Dodgers Sole Possession of Wild Card Spot

Stephen Fife (0-1, 2.16) vs. Adam Wainwright (13-13, 4.01)

Dodgers Lineup: vs. Cardinals

Victorino 7
Ethier 9
Kemp 8
Gonzalez 3
Ramirez 6
Cruz 5
M.Ellis 4
Treanor 2
Fife 1

 

The Dodgers celebrate after their walk-off win last night. Photo: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

Last night’s miraculous come from behind walk-off win was just what we needed. The broken down and banged up Dodgers looked downright depressed as they headed into the bottom of the ninth inning down by a run. The St. Louis Cardinals had their closer Motte in to try to close it out and move them back to two games up for the second Wild Card spot. Well, Luis Cruz had something to say about that. Don Mattingly smartly placed Dee Gordon in as a pinch-runner after Andre Ethier singled with two outs in the inning. Dee Gordon, who had been mowed down by the strong-armed Yadier Molina once in the series already, safely stole second base as Molina looked over the diamond with a sad frown upon his face. Then the clutchiest (is that a word?) player on the team, Luis Cruz, doubled to the gap on a 0-2 count, and Dee Gordon plated the tying run. The Dodgers took advantage of the late-inning momentum, and Elian Herrera, into pinch-run for Cochito, scored the winning walk-off run on a Juan Rivera pinch-hit single. The Dodgers moved into a tie with the Cardinals for the second Wild Card spot, and today they have a chance to move into sole possession of the spot with a series win.

The only catch is that we will not have our ace on the mound to almost certainly secure the victory. Clayton Kershaw has been scratched from his scheduled start so that he can get a second

opinion on his hip injury. If Kersh requires season-ending surgery, the Dodgers will have to go on without him which would make winning a playoff game very difficult indeed. Stephen Fife, whom we saw a few times earlier in the season, will be filling in for Kersh today. In Fife’s three starts earlier this year before the Dodgers acquired Joe Blanton from the Phillies, he went 0-1 with a 2.16 ERA in 16 2/3 innings. He only allowed four earned runs during that stretch. The 25-year old rookie will have his work cut out for him since he will be facing the World Champion Cardinals for the first time in his career.

 

The veteran Adam Wainwright goes to the mound for St. Louis today. Photo: Jake Roth-US PRESSWIRE

Adam Wainwright will try to even the series out and put the Red Birds ahead of the Dodgers in the Wild Card race again. The right-hander has lost three games in a row, and fatigue has been blamed for his recent troubles. Remember, he missed all of last season after rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. Wainwright has insisted that his issues stemmed from a arm slot problem in his delivery. He has since said that he has corrected the mechanical flaw. Last time in San Diego, Wainwright pitched 6 innings allowing 2 runs on 5 hits. He walked four batters in the loss. Last time we saw Wainwright it was in St. Louis where we lost to the Red Birds at Busch Stadium after Adam pitched 7 1/3 innings and allowed 2 runs on 7 hits with 7 strikeouts. In his career against the Dodgers, he has a 4-3 record with a 3.02 ERA. Andre Ethier and Shane Victorino have hit him well in the past, and they both have a homerun against Wainwright.

Matt Kemp is just 2-for-21 in his career against Wainwright. That translates to just a .095 batting average. With Matt Kemp’s struggles of late, if he’s in the lineup it will be an extra challenge for him. Yet let’s all remember that Kemp’s never give up attitude allowed him to throw out Yadier Molina at third base which ultimately helped the Dodgers win the game last night. Even after playing through pain and going through a career-worst slump at the plate, Matt Kemp is still fearless in the field. He could have easily given up on that hard hit ball by Molina last night after he crashed into the center field wall yet again. He didn’t. He sprinted forth and got to the ball as quick as he could to pick it up and laser a throw to rob Molina of a triple. He’s a true leader. If the Dodgers go on to clinch a playoff berth, Matt Kemp’s heroic defensive play in the ninth inning on the 15th day of September will go down as the turning point.

Enjoy the game, Dodger fans! First pitch is at 1:10 pm. I will be in attendance, and so far I am 2-for-4 on the season. Can I end up with a record above .500?

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Tags: Adam Wainwright Los Angeles Dodgers Stephen Fife