Dodgers 2 8 1
Cardinals 4 6 0
WP- Lynn (2-0)
LP- Nolasco (0-1)
S- Rosenthal (2)
HR- Holliday (1), Robinson (1)
On the 25th anniversary of Kirk Gibson‘s 1988 homerun, there was no Blue miracles as the Dodgers fell 4-2 to the Cardinals in Game 4 of the NLCS. The Dodgers now must attempt to comeback from a 3-1 deficit in the series, and Wednesday’s Game 5 could lead to their elimination. After wavering back and forth, Don Mattingly decided to go with Ricky Nolasco during Game 3 regardless of the outcome of the third game. Nolasco, who hadn’t pitched in weeks and had been in a troubling slump, looked great out of the gate. Nolasco looked like his effective curveball was working, and he pitched two good innings before the disastrous third frame spelled doom for the Dodgers. Thanks to a monstrous Matt Holliday two-run homerun which cleared the entire stadium, the Cardinals pounced on rusty Ricky for three runs in the inning. A double to Matt Carpenter also brought in a run prior to Holliday’s blast.
The Dodgers would score their only two runs in the bottom of the fourth on RBI singles from both Yasiel Puig and A.J. Ellis. Unfortunately Skip Schumaker‘s inning ending pinch-hit double play totally squashed the rally, and the Dodger bats were never heard from again. A devastating TOOTBLAN by Nick Punto in the bottom of the seventh erased the tying run at second.
The Dodger bullpen pitched well, and there was only one scoring hiccup on a rare Shane Robinson pinch-hit homerun off J.P. Howell in the seventh inning. That added run had really no bearing anyhow since the Cardinals’ pitching staff shut down the Dodgers after the fourth frame.
Some may feel that Nolasco was the right choice, but I feel that Mattingly should have given the ball to Zack Greinke on three-days rest in order to try to secure the tie. Then, if you must use Ricky, start him in Game 5. Now, with their backs against the wall, the Dodgers will have to win the next three consecutive games against the Cards in order to capture that elusive World Series berth. Here’s how the game played out…
Ricky Nolasco takes the mound for his first career postseason appearance after being skipped in the rotation during the NLDS. Matt Carpenter is quickly retired for the first out in the top of the first as Adrian Gonzalez under hands the ball to Nolasco who covers the first base bag on the groundout. Carlos Beltran pops out to Juan Uribe in foul territory. Matt Holliday also pops out in foul territory, this time to Gonzalez along the right field side. Nolasco only needs six pitches to send the Red Birds down in order.
Hanley returns to shortstop although Don Mattingly is conferring with the training staff. His at-bat was really hard to watch. Yadier Molina draws a one-out walk in the top of the second. Jon Jay, who has hit Nolasco well in the past, strikes out on a nasty curveball by Ricky! Ricky gets Freese to chase a high heater, and Nolasco strikes out two in the frame!
In the bottom of the second, Andre Ethier drops a single to shallow center with one out. Yasiel Puig draws his first walk of the series. Juan Uribe lines out to second, and Puig gets back just in time to avoid a double play. A.J. Ellis is busy doing A.J. things and walks to load the bases up for Nolasco. Nolasco looks at strike three, and the Dodgers leave the bases loaded.
The Cardinals get on the board in the top of the third and never look back. Daniel Descalso leads off with a single, and Lance Lynn sacrifice bunts him over to second. A double from Matt Carpenter to the gap in left center brings home Descalso. Beltran grounds out to second, but then Matt Holliday proceeds to crush a humongous two-run homerun which completely leaves Dodger Stadium over the left field bullpen. That was the biggest homerun I’ve seen at Dodger Stadium this year. St. Louis jumps out with a big 3-0 lead.
The Dodgers quietly go down in order in the bottom of the third.
Nolasco recovers in the top of the fourth, and he sends the Cards down in order. Now if only the Dodgers offense could wake up…
Adrian Gonzalez leads off the home half of the fourth with a solid double to right field.
Andre Ethier draws a walk, and the Dodgers have two on with nobody out. Great at bat by Dre. Then Puig comes up with an excellent at bat. He’s brushed back by Lynn, and shows restraint by not getting riled up. Then Lynn goes 3-2, and Puig strokes a single up the middle! Gonzalez comes home, and the Cards lead 3-1. A long fly ball by Uribe allows Ethier to tag up and moves over to third. A.J. Ellis also hits a single up the middle allowing Dre to score the second run of the inning, and the lead is cut to 3-2. Skip Schumaker will pinch-hit for Nolasco, and he promptly grounds into an inning ending double play. That was a costly rally killer, Skip.
The Dodger bullpen will need to come through tonight. Ricky Nolasco only made it through 4 innings and allowed 3 runs on 3 hits with 4 strikeouts and a walk on 58 pitches. Chris Withrow comes out of the Dodger bullpen in the top of the fifth inning in relief of Nolasco. Withrow begins the inning by blowing Descalso away with a 92-mph slider. Withrow walks Lynn. Matt Carpenter flies out to Crawford in left. With Beltran at bat, a wild pitch allows Lynn to move over to second. Withrow seems rattled, and a balk is called on him. Lynn moves to third. Withrow then walks Beltran. The Dodgers finally get out of the inning as Holliday grounds in to a force out. Withrow made 25 pitches in the inning.
Carl Crawford leads off the bottom of the fifth with a single to center. Mark Ellis hits a little pop up to second. Hanley Ramirez stands there and looks at three consecutive strikes right down the middle. That’s his third whiff of the game. Gonzalez flies out to center, and the Dodgers waste the lead-off hit by CC.
Withrow is in for his second inning of relief in the top of the sixth. Matt Adams hits right into the shifted Mark Ellis who is playing deep at second, and a base hit is squelched. Molina works a one-out walk. Jon Jay is awarded first base on catcher’s interference as his bat hits A.J.’s glove on a swing. David Freese then grounds into a very timely double play to end the inning! Phew.
The Cards make a few defensive changes. Pete Kozma will replace Freese and play at short, and Daniel Descalso moves from shortstop to third. Andre Ethier lines out to left field. Puig singles to center for his second hit of the night. That’s going to be all for Lance Lynn. Seth Maness will come in to pitch to Uribe who grounds into the frustrating inning ending double play. These double plays have really cost the Dodgers this series.
Lance Lynn pitched 5 1/3 innings and allowed 2 runs on 6 hits with 5 strikeouts and 3 walks on 83 pitches.
Hanley comes out of the game before the top of the seventh. Nick Punto will replace him at shortstop, and J.P. Howell comes out of the pen to pitch. Descalso goes down swinging for the first out. Shane Robinson then proceeds to hit a solo homerun which bounces off the top of the left field wall. Robinson only had hit two homeruns during the regular season. The Cards are now up by two runs. Matt Carpenter strikes out. Beltran walks on four pitches. Holliday singles up the middle past a falling Howell. Matt Adams strikes out to end the seventh.
Carlos Martinez will come in to pitch the bottom of the seventh for the Cards. Shane
Robinson stays in the game in left, and Matt Holliday is out of the game. Nick Punto then proceeds to hit a arching double over the head of Jay with one out! That good feeling is quickly washed away as Punto makes what is perhaps the biggest TOOTBLAN of the year as he is picked off of second base. Crawford grounds out, and just like that the Dodgers squander another scoring opportunity.
Ronald Belisario will come in to pitch the top of the eighth. Jay singles with one out. Kozma is hit by a pitch. That’s all for Beli. Donnie will make a patented DonnieSwitch™. Carlos Marmol, also known as the white flag, will come in out of the pen. Marmol strikes out Descalso for the second out. Robinson flies out center, and we head to the bottom of the eighth.
The Dodgers go down without a fight in order in the bottom of the eighth.
Marmol is back out for the top of the ninth. A prompt four-pitch walk starts off the inning. The bullpen has now walked 5, committed a balk, a wild pitch, and there was a catcher’s interference. Beltran flies out to deep right field for the first out. Matt Carpenter steals second with pinch-hitter Adron Chambers batting. Chambers strikes out. Adams strikes out looking to end the frame, and that’s big Matt’s third whiff of the night.
The Dodgers are down to their final three outs. Trevor Rosenthal will be on the mound for the Cards. Andre Ethier leads off the inning with a single. That’s Dre’s second hit of the night. Puig grounds into a double play, and all our dreams of a Puig homerun and bat flip are crushed. Uribe strikes out, and the Dodgers fall 3-1 in the series.
Shane Robinson hit a homerun tonight, yet the Dodgers have yet to hit any homeruns in the series. Winning the next three games is possible, but improbable. Do you think the Dodgers can mount an epic comeback?
Tomorrow we should see Zack Greinke start in Game 5 at 1:00 p.m. PT. It is unclear whether Hanley Ramirez will be able to play after he looked like he was in excruciating pain tonight and struck out thrice.