The Dodgers are on a roll. The offense has suddenly remembered how to hit, and the pitching has been good pretty much all series. The only problem is that they were outpitched and just barely outscored.
But if the bats are alive and their ace is on the mound, being down 3 games to 2 shouldn’t be an impossible lead to overcome.
Of course, the improbable Cardinal hero Michael Wacha stands in the way. Wacha started the season in Class AA even though he looked more than ready in the spring. He didn’t join the Cardinals rotation until mid-August. He’s got a grand total of 11 Major League starts in his career, but with almost every one he’s gotten better.
And over his last three starts he’s allowed just seven hits and a single run in 22 2/3 innings. That makes him the immovable object the Dodgers will have to overcome.
There is reason to believe that they can. After all he’s young and inexperienced, and the Dodger offense when it clicks is one of the best in the game.
But recently Wacha has been one of the best in the game, too, even better than Clayton Kershaw, the hurler he’ll be matching up against once again in this evening’s game. The only reason that Kershaw hasn’t earned the Cy Young for this season is that it hasn’t been announced yet. He posted a 1.83 ERA and struck out 232 batters this season. With apologies to Max Scherzer and Adam Wainwright, Kershaw is the best pitcher in the Majors right now.
Of course, now is a body of recent work, not a single game. And in a single game even the best sometimes lose, especially when their opponent is as good as Michael Wacha.
So who has the bigger advantage in Game 6? That’s hard to say. Kershaw has experience and the Dodger offense backing him, Wacha has home field and a team that plays well at home to back him up.
For the Dodgers today is all about survival. It’s do or die, and the only person who you can be sure the Dodgers won’t play tomorrow is Zack Greinke, who probably is plan B for starting Game 7, albeit on short rest and hasn’t yet had enough time to recover yet from pitching Game 5.
Hyun-Jin Ryu probably won’t get the call either as he’s in line to start Game 7 if the series goes that far, but that’s hardly a sure thing. If Kershaw got into deep trouble early, the Dodgers would prefer to throw a lefty, ideally one who’d stymied the Cardinals before, to try to buy the offense a chance to bounce back.
That’s because the Cardinals have struggled mightily against pretty much all lefties this season, managing to hit just .238 against them.
The Redbirds are hoping to close the door tomorrow. Yes they are facing a lefty who isn’t going to be much fun. But still they are at home, and Busch Stadium isn’t as forgiving for pitchers as Dodger Stadium. That means that Kershaw will have a slimmer margin for error, and maybe at home the St. Louis offense will finally find its groove.
The real winner of course will be the fans, no matter which way the final score reads. This is a rematch of what was one of the best NLCS games of recent vintage.
Kershaw vs. Wacha. Dodgers vs. Cardinals.
All bets are off in what should be a classic game.
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