Cardinals fans have to be thrilled.
Sure, this is old hat for them. They expect nothing less from what is one of the best-run franchises in the game. They go into today up 2-0, playing in a pitcher’s park, with their best pitcher heading to the hill. The Cards have the Dodgers on the rope, and while they aren’t going to throw the knockout punch tonight, they sure hope to put the Dodgers on the canvas, putting LA in a position where recovery is improbable.
Yes, they are on the road and they do have to deal with a hostile crowd, but the Cardinals have to like the fact that they’ve gotten into the perceived soft underbelly of the Dodger rotation, Hyun-Jin Ryu for Game 3 and possibly Ricky Nolasco for Game 4.
But they shouldn’t get too excited. Both are good pitchers and prone to flashes of brilliance, and the Dodgers probably thought much the same before they actually played against Joe Kelly and Michael Wacha in Games 1 and 2.
And fans should remember, the Cards beat the Dodger aces, and the Dodgers could beat the Cards' ace today.
Could being the operative word.
But the Cardinals have to like their chances. The Dodger offense has struggled against the youngsters, and Adam Wainwright has the potential to baffle them once again -- in one of the most forgiving pitching parks in the game.
Still neither team has put many runs up on the board, and the Redbirds have managed the win by the skin of their teeth in both games, winning a one-run game on an unearned run against Kershaw and managing just three runs in Game 1. It’s been enough, but it won’t be if the Dodgers find their hitting mojo once again.
And Ryu has puzzled the Cardinals batters in his only matchup against them. While he may well have weakened a bit down the stretch and the Braves may have knocked him out early, Ryu won 14 games and had the eighth-best ERA in the National League just 0.06 runs worse than Wainwright.
Not being familiar with Ryu could prove to be a significant disadvantage, one which they’d need Wainwright to neutralize by checking the Dodgers hitters, if the Cards can’t break through.
Odds are good that the early innings will tell at least part of the tale. Either the Cards will be able to hit Ryu or they won’t. If they can the Dodgers will have a hard climb ahead of them. If not, tomorrow could be a nailbiter.
Still it’s hard not to like where the Cardinals are sitting going into this game.
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