Dodgers Lineup:Crawford 7 M.Ellis 4 Hanley 6 Gonzalez 3 Ethier 8 Puig 9 Uribe 5 A.J. Ellis 2 Greinke 1
After a soul crushing defeat on Tuesday night, the Dodgers will need an almost perfect start from Zack Greinke and some offense to boot in order to force a Game 6 back at Busch Stadium. The Dodgers are down 3-1 in the NLCS, and with a loss on Wednesday would be eliminated from competition. The Cardinals are honing in on yet another World Series berth, and they have been hungry since their letdown NLCS against San Francisco last season. It was of course Matt Holliday who propelled the Red Birds to their third victory of the series after he absolutely crushed a two-run homerun which went completely over the left field bullpen fence at Dodger Stadium. Perhaps the blue rally towels which were given out to fans on Tuesday night were not distracting enough for the outfielder, or maybe it was the fact the Ricky Nolasco is very mediocre and allowed three runs in the frame. It wasn’t just Ricky. The Dodgers made some costly mistakes this series. On Tuesday alone they committed a huge TOOTBLAN, left the bases loaded, there was a wild pitch, a balk, a catcher’s interference, they walked the opposing pitcher, and more double plays. Did I mention the double plays?
The turning point in the series was when Joe Kelly, who is slated to pitch on
Wednesday, fractured one of Hanley Ramirez‘s ribs in Game 1. From that point on, the Dodgers have essentially lost their best player to the injury. Hanley has tried to play through the pain, but it became unbearable for him in Game 4 and he had to come out early. Hanley, who missed just about half of the regular season’s games due to a myriad of injuries, is one of the best hitters in the league when healthy. Unfortunately for the Dodgers, the former batting champion was unable to play in the NLCS to his fullest ability.
The offense has completely flailed. Even though the Cardinals’ offense has been sputtering as well, the Dodgers have lost that magic we saw during their epic 42-8 streak during the season. After their NLDS victory over the Braves, we thought they had a great chance against the Cardinals. St. Louis has proven to be formidable foes, and they always seem to rise to the occasion down the stretch and into the postseason. Perhaps their loss to the Giants last year in the NLCS has fueled them even more. They will still need to win one more game to move on to face either the Red Sox or Tigers in the World Series. The Dodgers will hopefully not go down without a fight. I hope they can win one more so that the fans don’t have to watch the Cardinals celebrate on our home turf.
Zack Greinke pitched very well last Friday in the series opener, but the Dodgers still managed to fall 3-2 to the Cardinals in St. Louis. The right-hander pitched 8 solid innings while allowing 2 runs on 4 hits while striking out a postseason career-high 10 batters and walking one. The Dodgers lost 3-2, but Greinke was masterful. His only mistake was to Carlos Beltran who hit a booming double which Andre Ethier couldn’t catch up to in center field. The Dodgers signed Greinke to a lucrative six-year $159 million contract this past offseason, and Greinke has proven what a valuable asset he truly is. After suffering a freak collarbone injury during a brawl with San Diego and Carlos Quentin early in the season, Greinke came back and shined as the Dodgers second ace. Even if Wednesday is the last start we see from Greinke in 2013, the Dodgers have many more years of his excellent pitching in store.
The bespectacled rib cracker Joe Kelly will be starting Game 5 for the Cards. Kelly beat Greinke in Game 1 by allowing only two runs on 6 hits to the Boys in Blue. Perhaps the Dodgers will be able to hit Kelly better now that they have seen him once, but let’s hope Kelly doesn’t pitch inside to anyone causing a fracas amongst the two teams.
I was nine years-old when the Dodgers were in the World Series the last time in 1988. Collecting baseball cards and looking up to my heroes at Dodger Stadium was childhood fun. I’m still anxiously awaiting the Dodgers to return to the Fall Classic, and I hope that I can experience it again with my own children now. Back then Mike Scioscia and Orel Hershiser were favorites, and nowadays Clayton Kershaw and A.J. Ellis are the modern counterparts. No matter the outcome of this series, I will always love the Dodgers. I will always root for them whether they are in last place or first. It’s just so frustrating to see them knock on the door of the World Series and not get in. Perhaps there are a few Blue miracles left to be seen for 2013. Until the last out, giving up hope is not an option.
Get your Dodgers tickets now and see if they can extend the series!