The Dodgers were 0-4 in elimination games dating back to the 2009 NLCS before their 6-4 game 5 win over the Cardinals on Wednesday afternoon. The impressive victory forced a game 6 on Friday night, sending the series back to Busch Stadium.
The Dodgers needed someone to step up on offense, and Adrian Gonzalez led the home run parade in game 5. If this is the Dodger’s final home game at Chavez Ravine in 2013, they went out with a bang. The Dodgers clubbed four home runs, two of them off of Gonzo’s bat, and another solid Zack Greinke outing gave the boys in blue a 6-4 win in the NLCS game 5.
With Clayton Kershaw set to take the mound for the Dodgers in game 6, you have to wonder about the Cardinal’s frame of mind right now. They must be having a kind of de ja vu feeling. After all, the Red Birds were in this same position in 2012, and choked. They lost three games in a row to the Giants, after taking what seemed like a commanding 3-1 series lead.
In that series though, they had games 6 and 7 both on the road, but this time, they come home for the final two games. The Cardinals will have game 2 winner Michael Wacha on the mound to counter Kershaw. If the Dodgers can force a game 7, Hyun-jin Ryu would counter Adam Wainwright in the series finale.
But do the Cardinals feel some kind of sense of urgency after not being able to wrap up the series at Dodger Stadium? They must because history has not been kind to them. The Cardinals are 0-7 in the LCS after going up 3-1 in the series dating back to the 1996 NLCS when they blew a 3-1 lead to the Braves. This includes last year’s collapse. The Cardinals blew a 3-1 series lead to the Giants in last season’s NLCS, and combined to score just one lonely run in those final three games. What’s the difference between this year’s Cardinals and last year’s club? Nothing. This is basically the same team from last season. Minus the injured Allen Craig.
The Cardinals are still in the driver’s seat of course, needing to win just one of the final two games, but their game 5 loss has allowed the Dodgers to give the ball to Kershaw for one more start. That doesn’t bode well for the Cardinals considering they have struggled against left handers all season long.
The Cardinals ranked 27 out of 30 teams in hitting left handers in the regular season. The Red Birds batted .238 with a .672 OPS against lefties. The Cardinals smashed right handers though, despite their limited power. The club socked just 125 home runs, compared to the Dodgers who hit 138. The Dodgers are throwing two left handers in the final two games against the Cardinals. The Red Birds are still struggling with the bats, they’re hitting just .178 in the series. The Cardinals have been here before and have tanked. The Dodgers need to play on this mind set with the birds. The Dodgers are going to fight until the final out. Will there be a repeat of history?
The Dodgers set history on Wednesday afternoon by becoming just the thirteenth club to win a game 5 on at home to force a game 6 on the road. Of those 13 clubs, three went on to win the World Series. With Kershaw and Ryu set to go in games 6, and 7, the Dodgers are very close to realizing their dreams.
They’ll have to do in front of what will be a very hostile and pumped up St. Louis crowd on Friday night. The club will have to figure out a way to hit Michael Wacha, but the club feels after seeing him once, they will be able to make the adjustments the second time around.
Hopefully they are not just whistling Dixie on that one. The Dodgers are trying to do something very hard, but not impossible. Seven other teams have overcome a 3-1 series hole in the LCS round and won the series. The Dodgers could become the eighth.
It’s especially hard to get the game 5 win, after all only 12 other clubs have done that in history. Remember the Dodgers lost consecutive NLCS’s in 2008, and 2009 in five games. In both of those series, the club had a chance to force a game 6 and couldn’t do it. This time however, it’s a different story, and a much better team.
|Teams down 3-1 in a League Championship Series to win Game 5 at home and force a Game 6 on the road|
|Series||Game 5 result||Series result|
|2013 NLCS||Dodgers 6, Cardinals 4||????|
|2011 ALCS||Tigers 7, Rangers 5||Rangers in 6|
|2010 ALCS||Yankees 7, Rangers 2||Rangers in 6|
|2009 ALCS||Angels 7, Yankees 6||Yankees in 6|
|2008 ALCS||Red Sox 8, Rays 7||Rays in 7|
|2004 ALCS||Red Sox 5, Yankees 4 (14)||Red Sox in 7|
|2003 NLCS||Marlins 4, Cubs 0||Marlins in 7|
|2000 ALCS||Mariners 6, Yankees 2||Yankees in 6|
|1999 NLCS||Mets 4, Braves 3 (15)||Braves in 6|
|1992 ALCS||A’s 6, Blue Jays 2||Blue Jays in 6|
|1992 NLCS||Pirates 7, Braves 1||Braves in 7|
|1990 NLCS||Pirates 3, Reds 2||Reds in 6|
|1985 ALCS||Royals 2, Blue Jays 0||Royals in 7|
Since 1985, when LCS switched to a best-of-seven series.
It’s especially rare in the National league. Only four other clubs have done it in the senior circuit. The Dodgers have not played a game 6 in a best of seven playoff series since the 1988 NLCS. Which also went seven games by the way.
Teams to overcome 3-1 series deficits to win the LCS.
1985 ALCS Royals over Blue Jays
1986 ALCS Red Sox over Angels.
1996 NLCS Braves over Cardinals
2003 NLCS Marlins over Cubs
2004 ALCS Red Sox over Yankees
2007 ALCS Red Sox Over Indians
2012 NLCS Giants over Cardinals
The Dodgers are used to making incredible comebacks. They did come back from last place in the regular season to go on a prolific 42-8 run which vaulted them into first place. As you can see, it might not be impossible for the Dodgers to win this series, just improbable. But according to history, the Dodgers have a cool habit of turning the improbable into possible. The Dodger’s chase for history continues on Friday night.