Talk about a kick in the balls. The Dodgers dropped the opening game of the NLCS to the Cardinals 3-2 in one of the longest NLCS games in history. The Cardinals defeated the Dodgers in the bottom of the thirteenth inning on a game-winning hit by Carlos Beltran. The Dodgers wasted several scoring opportunities and left a small arsenal of men on base. 11 to be exact. The Dodgers were 1 for 10 with RISP. The game also saw several tactical blunders by manager Don Mattingy. The removal of Gonzalez in the eighth, and the wasting of Dee Gordon in the same frame. M.Ellis was thrown out at the plate trying to tag from third on a Michael Young shallow pop to right in the tenth. That was the Dodger’s last chance, and they blew it. The Dodgers also wasted a great outing from Zack Greinke. The right hander allowed just two runs in eight frames, and whiffed a career postseason high ten batters. The offense let the team down again. Rookie opposing starter Joe Kelly pitched well too, but neither were involved in the final decision of this game. Both teams scored in the third. The Dodgers scored in that frame when Crawford doubled, and after walks to Hanley and Gonzo, and a force play by Puig, Uribe the hero from the NLDS, drove in the only two Dodger runs with a two-run single.
The Cardinals scored their two in the bottom half of the third. That rally started when opposing starter Kelly dribbled a single through the shortstop hole. After a walk to Carpenter, Beltran the postseason legend, doubled in two which tied the game at 2-2. The booming double was almost caught by a leaping Ethier, but he missed it and the ball bounced off the top of the wall.
The Dodgers had a golden chance to score in the tenth frame, when M.Ellis tripled, but after a walk to Hanley, he was thrown out at the plate on a Young shallow pop fly to right. M.Ellis was out by a distance from me to you, on a one-hop throw from Beltran. The veteran has 132 outfield assists. (No Molina does not have to tag him if he is knocked over). The Dodgers hit into another costly double pay (Young) in the 12th frame. But once again It was Beltran himself who drove in the winning run in the thirteenth inning on a line drive hit off of Jansen, and drove in all three runs. That was that. This game was excruciating, and here’s how the Dodgers blew it.
Joe Kelly begins the NLCS with a swinging whiff on Carl Crawford, and we’re undery. Mark Ellis singles up the middle for the first hit of the NLCS. Hanley is hit by a pitch in the ribs. With Adrian Gonzalez at the plate, Kelly uncorks a wild pitch that advances the runners to second and third. Kelly whiffs Gonzo, andf then predictably whiffs Puig. When all is said and done, Kelly struck out the side. Cardinals coming up in the first.
Zack Greinke pitches a very quick and efficient bottom of the first inning. Matt Carpenter a grounder to the second base hole for the first out. Carlos Beltran is whiffed, and Matt Holliday’s soft looper is caught by a leaping Hanley. No score after one frame.
The Dodgers finally push across some runs in the top of the third. Crawford starts the frame with a lead-off double into the left field corner. M.Ellis’s grounder advances Crawman to third. Hanley and Gonzo are both walked to load the bases. The Cardinals have a meeting on the mound to discuss how to pitch to Puig. Whatever they said worked, because Puig grounds into a force out at the plate. With two outs, Juan Uribe, also known as Mr. Clutch for the Dodgers this postseason, grounds a base hit up the middle to score two. The Dodgers go on top by a score of 2-0!
After Greinke whiffs David freeze and Kozma to starts the bottom of the third, the Cards get their first hit of the night, and it’s from the opposing starter Kelly. Greinke then loses his momentum while pitching out of the stretch, and walks Carpenter. With two on and two outs. Two outs mind you! Beltran hammers a 3-1 pitch to deep center field for a double off the top of the wall. Ethier makes a valiant effort to make a leaping catch, but misses it. Two runs score, and the Cardinals tie it up at 2-2.
Both pitchers exchange scoreless fourth frames, and we head into the fifth, with the score tied at 2-2. Greinke whiffs the side in the bottom of the fifth. Whiffs of Kozma, Kelly, and Carpenter give him eight on the night. We’re still tied at 2-2 after five.
The Dodgers cant get anything going on offense again in the top of the sixth. Uribe’s lead-off single is wasted after a called third strike on Ethier, a broken bat grounder from A.J. and a fly out from Greinke. The birdman retires the side in order in the bottom of the sixth. He gets Beltran to tap out to the box. Holliday a liner to center, and Matt Adams grounds into the shift. We’re still tied after six.
In the top of the seventh, former Dodger ad big iguana Randy Choate comes in to retire Crawford on a pop-up. He’s quickly hooked for right hander Seth Maness, who gets M.Ellis to ground out. Hanley whiffs and that’s it for the Dodgers in the seventh.
Molina starts the bottom of the seventh with a single to left. Jon Jay is asked to bunt, and does, but Greinke leaps off the mound to nail the lead runner at second. Puig makes a running catch and doubles up Jay at first, and the Dodgers are out of it.
With flame thrower Carlos Martinez on the mound for the Birds. Gonzo draws a walk to lead-off and then is removed for pinch-runner Dee Gordon. Puig immediately hits into a force, and Gordon is erased at second base anyways. Then Uribe GIDPs, and the potential rally is squelched.
Greinke remains out for the bottom of the eighth, and continues his superb pitching. He pops out Kozma, and whiffs pinch-hitter Chambers, and Carpenter to give him eleven whiffs on the night.
Move to the bottom of the ninth. Brian Wilson and his beard enters the game. Wilson at first is dominating, getting Beltran to sky out to center, whiffing Holliday for the second out. Then he starts to get squeezed by the ump. Adams and Molina both walk. He goes 3-2 to Jay and gets him to fly out to center. The Dodgers are out of it, and we move into the tenth.
Trevor Rosenthal who had pitched the top of the ninth, stays out for the top of the tenth. After he retires Crawford, M.Ellis triples over Jay’s head, and the Dodgers are in business. Jay took a very poor route to the ball. The Cardinals then intentionally walk Hanley. This is where Mattingly’s terrible strategies come back to haunt. Instead of Gonzo, it’s Michael Young at the plate, who hits a shallow fly to right. M.Ellis desperately tries to tag from third, and is thrown out by a country mile on a one-hop throw from Beltran. M.Ellis tried to knock over Molina, but he wasn’t having that.
Ronald Belisario comes in to pitch the bottom of the tenth, and retires the side in order. John Axford comes in to pitch the top of the eleventh. He whiffs Puig, and retires Uribe, but walks Dre. A.J. singles up the middle, which brings up the pitcher’s spot. The Dodgers don’t have many guys left on the bench, so they turn to Nick Punto in a pinch-hitting appearance. Punto predictably whiffed and we play on.
In the bottom of the eleventh, J.P. Howell comes in and gets out of a jam. Carpenter singles, but Howell gets out of it by retiring Beltran, Holliday, and Adams. The Dodgers rally in the top of the 12th. Lance Lynn takes the mound for the Cardinals, and Crawford a bloop single into center. Of course M.Ellis is ordered to bunt, sacrificing Crawford to second. That takes the bat right out of Hanley’s hands, as the Cardinals predictably walk Hanley. And almost on cue, Young grounds into an inning ending double play.
Chris Withrow is called upon in the bottom of the 12th,and he works a scoreless frame, and we move into the thirteenth inning. The score is still tied, and we move into the bottom of the thirteenth. Withrow remains on the mound and gives up a single to Descalso and walks Carpenter. With one out, Mattingly brings in Kenley Jansen to pitch to Beltran, essentially playing his trump card. Do I even have to tell you what happened? Beltran lined a base hit down the line, and the Cardinals walk-off with a win. The Red Birds lead the series 1-0. I am super pissed at the moment. Tomorrow the Dodgers try to somehow right the ship after this disgusting loss. They have the right guy on the mound to do it. Clayton Kershaw takes the mound for the Dodgers tomorrow, and he’ll draw another rookie, Michael Wacha in game two in a 1:00 PM start time.