The feel good story of the Pittsburgh Pirates came to an end on Wednesday night as the St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Bucs 6-1 at Busch Stadium in Game 5 of the NLDS. St. Louis ace Adam Wainwright pitched a complete game, and Wainwright went 2-0 with a 1.13 ERA in the series. The Pirates couldn’t muster much off of Wainwright offensively, and the Cardinals hit two long balls including a two-run homerun by David Freese and a two-run shot by their big first baseman Matt Adams. The Cardinals will now remain at home awaiting the arrival of the Boys in Blue who will come into town for the pennant clash.
The Dodgers held a workout at Dodger Stadium on Friday and were in good spirits as
they watched the Cardinals-Pirates game play out. Knowing that home field advantage was now not a part of the script, the Dodgers will need to battle the Red Birds for the first two games of the NLCS in front of their scarlet hued fans at Busch Stadium. There is something iconic about a Blue vs. Red NLCS.
Dodger fans have been anxiously awaiting at another shot at the National League pennant since the heartbreaking losses of 2008 and 2009 to the Philadelphia Phillies. The last time the Dodgers faced St. Louis in the postseason was back in 2009 when the Dodgers swept St. Louis 3-0 in the NLDS. The Dodgers would go on to lose to the Phillies for the second straight year in the NLCS. Back in 2009 it was Joe Torre and Tony La Russa who were the skippers of the respective teams. I’m sure both men will be in attendance for this 2013 series. In Game 1 of the 2009 NLDS, Jeff Weaver picked up the win after coming in to relieve starter Randy Wolf. Chris Carpenter got the loss, and Jonathan Broxton collected the save at Dodger Stadium. Matt Kemp hit a homerun.
In Game 2 of the 2009 NLDS we saw a pitching duel between Adam Wainwright and Clayton Kershaw which could be repeated for this 2013 NLCS as both pitchers currently anchor their team as the staff ace. This was Kershaw’s first postseason start. Matt Holliday hit a homerun in the second inning, but Andre Ethier tied up the game with his first postseason homerun in the fourth. Kershaw pitched out of a few jams, and the Cards scored a second run in the seventh on a double by Colby Rasmus. The Dodgers would go on to win Game 2 after an epic ninth inning which would go down in Dodger history as one of the most notorious come-from-behind wins. Closer Ryan Franklin came in to pitch the ninth, and he was able to retire Manny Ramirez. Then James Loney, who had been a huge asset to the Tampa Bay Rays this postseason before they were eliminated on Tuesday night by the Red Sox in the ALDS, hit a fly ball to Matt Holliday. Holliday lost the ball in the lights, and it hit him in the belly for a very memorable postseason moment. Loney reached second safely on the costly yet comical error. Casey Blake, the original beard, drew a walk. Then Ronnie Belliard hit a clutch two-out single to score Juan Pierre who was pinch-running. The game was all tied up 2-2. Russell Martin, another old friend who played an important part on the Pirates team this season, drew a walk to load the bases up for the Dodgers. Then pinch-hitter Mark Loretta hit a walk-off single to center which brought in the winning run with Casey Blake. The dramatic conclusion was one of the best postseason Dodger games I have ever seen.
The Dodgers left for St. Louis up 2-0 in the series. Vicente Padilla, the soap bubble hurler, dominated in Game 3 at Busch Stadium. He pitched seven scoreless frames and only allowed four hits. Andre Ethier hit a homerun, a triple, and a double in the game. The Dodgers would go on to lose the NLCS to the annoying Phillies thereafter.
The Dodgers will not have Matt Kemp and the Cardinals will not have the now Angel Albert Pujols for this upcoming series, yet familiar foes like Holliday and Wainwright remain. The Dodgers went 4-3 against St. Louis this season. The Cards won two of three at Dodger Stadium back in May, and the Dodgers won three of four at Busch Stadium in August.
It is unclear whether there will be any changes to the NLCS roster, but the team will fly overnight to Missouri and participate in a workout on Thursday at Busch Stadium. On slate to start Game 1 is Zack Greinke on Friday, Clayton Kershaw will start Game 2 on Saturday, and then Hyun-jin Ryu and Ricky Nolasco will start Games 3 and 4 back at Dodger Stadium beginning Monday.
Good news came out of the Dodger workout on Thursday as Andre Ethier was running and fielding fly balls out in center field at Dodger Stadium. It looks like Ethier will be able to start in center field for the Dodgers for the NLCS as long as his ankle feels okay after the workout. Skip Schumaker started all four games in center field for the Dodgers in the NLDS. Skip, the former Cardinal, had 3 hits in 13 at-bats in the NLDS.
Another advantage the Dodgers have is that Adam Wainwright will not be available to start until Game 3 after pitching all nine innings in Game 5 for the Cardinals on Thursday. Wainwright made 107 pitches.
The Dodgers will have to look out for Matt Adams who batted .316 with a homerun, 6 hits, and 2 RBIs in the division series. They will also need to be wary of running on Yadier Molina, and of course the Cardinals have a multitude of dangerous hitters in the lineup including Carlos Beltran, David Freese, and Matt Holliday. The Red Birds finished the regular season with an impressive 97-65 record.
Game 1 of the NLCS will air on TBS at approximately 5:00 p.m. PT. Stay tuned for more NLCS coverage here on Lasorda’s Lair including pitching matchups and more analysis.
The Dodgers are four wins away from a World Series berth! Go Blue!