The Dodgers historic road win streak came to a grinding halt on Tuesday evening in St. Louis as the Cardinals were able to stifle the Dodgers to only one run. Even though Don Mattingly shuffled the rotation by starting Stephen Fife in order to give the pitching staff some extra rest, it didn’t really matter much that Clayton Kershaw started since the Dodgers offense failed to follow through on some key scoring opportunities in the game. They left 8 men on base and were 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position. A failed bunt sacrifice doomed the rally in the seventh, and then it was really curtains once Brandon League came into the game in the eighth. With October around the corner, the Dodgers will need to polish and perfect some of these small mistakes they have made throughout the year. Base running blunders, bunt failures, and bullpen bums will not allow you to win a world championship.
The Cardinals are a very good team, and the Red Birds are now 20 games above .500. It is almost certain that St. Louis will be playing in the postseason, and the Dodgers will need to find a way to beat them. They can only hope for more Matt Holliday outfield blunders along the way. The pitching is there for the Dodgers (except for the homerun derby pitchers like League and Marmol), but the offense will need to be on point in order to defeat some of these elite teams like the Cards. Without Hanley, the Dodgers will need to play smart and strategic baseball. One error or failed rally can easily give the advantage and win to St. Louis who have a potent lineup and solid defense. Donnie, please no postseason bunting! My eyes and heart cannot handle that.
Ricky Nolasco, who is 2-1 with a 3.54 in 5 starts with the Dodgers, will get the ball for game three. Last time out in Chicago, Ricky picked up a win despite allowing 3 runs on 4 hits in 5 innings of work. He struck out 6 Cubs and walked one. Ricky has not made it out of the sixth inning in any of his last 4 starts. In fact, the only time he went longer than 5 2/3 innings was in his Dodger debut in Arizona back on July 9th when he pitched 7 solid innings. Nolasco is 2-4 with a 4.18 ERA against the Cardinals in his career. The 30-year old is 1-2 at Busch Stadium with a 5.73 ERA in 4 starts. He’ll have to watch out for Matt Holliday who is hitting .421 with 2 homeruns and 5 RBIs against the right-hander.
The Dodgers will have their work cut out for them today as they take on one of the best rookie pitchers in the league. Shelby
Miller leads qualifying rookie pitchers in the National League with 11 wins (Hyun-jin Ryu is second with 10), and he’s second in strikeouts (138). Ryu is fourth in strikeouts with 111. Miller has allowed 12 homeruns (one more than Ryu). In his last outing against Cincinnati, the Rookie of the Year contender allowed 3 runs on 5 hits with 8 strikeouts and 3 walks in 5 innings while picking up the victory. Miller hasn’t lost since June 28th versus the A’s. Miller has already pitched against the Dodgers once this season back on May 26th at Dodger Stadium which ended with a no decision. The 22-year old from Texas is 1-0 with a 4.26 ERA against Los Angeles in 6 1/3 innings pitched against them. Miller is excellent at home, and he is sporting a 6-2 record with a 1.54 ERA at Busch.
The Dodgers lost a game in the standings yesterday, but they still lead the Diamondbacks by 5 games. San Diego, Colorado, and San Francisco are all languishing and are at least 10 1/2 games back. If the Dodgers can hold on and finish better than the D-backs, they will be able to capture that beautiful N.L. West crown. Despite the loss yesterday, the Dodgers have the best road record in the N.L. at 31-25. They are 32-8 over their last 40 games. Simply incredible.
Tonight the game will be televised on both Prime Ticket and ESPN, so there is no issues with blackouts thankfully. Can the Dodgers continue to win without Hanley? Can Don Mattingly forgo the bunting? Perhaps a little speed injected into the game with Dee Gordon can jumpstart the offense.