NLCS Recap: Dodgers Fall In Six Games To Cardinals, 2013 Over
The Dodgers dropped Game 6 of the NLCS to the St. Louis Cardinals 9-0, losing the series 4-2 and ending the 2013 season. Things got out of hand quickly as Clayton Kershaw just didn’t have it, getting tagged up for 10 hits and seven runs in only four innings of work. Throw in a couple of ill-advised throws by Yasiel Puig in a four-run third inning for St. Louis and the Dodgers were buried from the get-go.
We’ll take a look back at the series and what went right for the Dodgers and what went wrong in each game. I’ll throw in my two cents afterwards and try to make sense of all that has transpired over the past week for the Dodgers and perhaps what it could signify going forward.
GAME 1: 3-2 CARDINALS (13 INNINGS)
RIGHT: The Dodgers carried over their momentum from the NLDS and struck first taking an early 2-0 lead on the Cards thanks to a two-run single from Juan Uribe in the third inning. Zack Greinke pitched a masterful game going eight innings, while giving up only two runs on four hits with 10 strikeouts. The Dodgers also got four innings of scoreless relief from four different relievers before Chris Withrow came undone in the 13th inning.
WRONG: Despite his brilliant pitching, Greinke did blow a 2-0 lead. However, it’s tough to fault a guy who pitches eight innings of two-run ball in the playoffs. The most questionable move of the night came in the eighth inning as Adrian Gonzalez walked to lead off the inning and Don Mattingly elected to send in Dee Gordon to pinch run. Despite getting a few pitches to work with, Gordon did absolutely nothing at first base, not even an attempt to steal second. Yasiel Puig was at-bat and grounded into a fielder’s choice, completely nullifying the move to put in Gordon.
Although there was no way to predict the game would go 13 innings, the Dodgers were now without their second best hitter in a tie game. The next two times Hanley Ramirez came up to bat, the Cardinals were more than happy to intentionally walk him to face Gonzalez’s replacement at first, Michael Young. Young flied out to right his first time up with Mark Ellis at third.
Ellis tagged and was gunned down at home on a perfect throw from Carlos Beltran. The Dodgers needed to be aggressive in that situation and the only way that Ellis would have been out would have been with a perfect throw, credit to Beltran for making that throw. And in his second at-bat Young hit into a double play in the 12th inning.
Speaking of Hanley Ramirez, the single most pivotal moment of the Dodgers’ postseason came in Game 1 when Ramirez got hit in the side by a Joe Kelly fastball. Ramirez stayed in the game that night, but it was later discovered that he had a fractured rib. The Dodgers’ hottest hitter was stopped coldly in his tracks by an cruel act of fate.
Dodgers fans can only be left wondering what might have been had a healthy Hanley been in the lineup. Ramirez was a warrior and played every game, but Game 2 of the series giving it his all, however, an injured Ramirez just couldn’t mash at the level he had been during the season. The Dodgers were robbed of their best hitter at the worst time…what if?
GAME 2: 1-0 CARDINALS
RIGHT: More masterful pitching from the Dodgers, both the starting and relief corps. Clayton Kershaw was sublime allowing only an unearned run on two hits in six innings of work. Ronald Belisario and J.P. Howell each came in for a scoreless inning of relief. Despite not allowing an earned run, Kershaw took the loss as the Dodgers offense was held in check by Michael Wacha.
WRONG: The Dodgers offense. The game started at 3PM local time so the majority of it was played with home plate in brutal shadows. With two pitchers sporting elite stuff like Kershaw and Wacha it was clear that it would be a low-scoring affair. However, the Dodgers couldn’t get anything going as Wacha was dynamite with an electric 97 MPH fastball and a devastating changeup around 84 MPH that had guys flailing. After 6.2 innings of Wacha, the Cardinals unleashed their young flamethrowers out of the bullpen. Four Cardinals’ relievers held the Dodgers hitless over the next 2.1 innings and the Dodgers headed back to LA down 2-0.
GAME 3: 3-0 DODGERS
RIGHT: More starting pitching. This time it was Hyun-Jin Ryu, who bounced back from a dreadful NLDS start to pitch seven shutout innings giving up only four hits. Brian Wilson and Kenley Jansen shut down the Cardinals in the eight and ninth and the Dodger bats came through with RBIs from Gonzalez, Ramirez and Puig.
WRONG: Just that the Dodgers didn’t capitalize on more opportunities and score more runs. They were 3-for-11 with RISP in Game 3 as it could have been a complete blowout.
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