Fellow Arch City writer Brandt Dolce is right. This is turning into an epic series. One that is full of heartbreak, despair, excitement and changing speeds.
On Friday night, the Cards do the unthinkable and snatch a sure win from the clutches of Clayton Kershaw in thrilling 10-9 fashion.
On Saturday, the Dodgers got even and won 3-2 on a late home run by Matt Kemp, the probable comeback player of the year for 2014 and Harold Reynolds‘ favorite player by far. He sent an inside pitch from Pat Neshek into the shallow left field stands.
This came after a game tying two run home run by Matt Carpenter in the top of the 8th. What seemed to be another LA win on the horizon was overturned by the leadoff man with the crafty tool box. Carpenter now has three huge hits and this series is only two games old.
Everything in October is heightened. It’s playoff baseball. More tension. More drama. Loud crowds. Insane emotion. Fist pumps. Arm raises. Beast modes. Screaming. The players know this is it. The fans know this is what the entire season leads up to. Utter despair.
Each fanbase has gotten their fair share of heartbreak. Each team has surged, stumbled and found a way to win.
Cards fans, this is no time to freak out. The goal in LA was to get one win and come home. The goal was reached. Sure, the opportunity to get more was there in the 8th. The Cards had Jon Jay and Matt Adams on with Jhonny Peralta at the plate, but the Brandon League coaxed a double play and escaped. The momentum swung back in the Dodgers direction.
Kemp came up and sealed the deal. Kenley Jansen came in and closed the game. Remember, the series is tied 1-1 heading back to Busch and not 2-0 Dodgers.
This game was still tough to swallow and for a few reasons. Small quibbles but here we go.
*Where is Michael Wacha? The game is tied and Pat Neshek has been used as a setup man. Sure, he has given up a few more home runs than usual lately, but still, why is he pitching in a 2-2 game when Wacha is down there for bullpen duty? If he is good enough to be on the roster, he needs to pitch. Two games have gone by and he hasn’t pitched. If this roster spot was gifted to a kid who was great in 2013 but may not be at his strongest right now, it’s a dreadful mistake on John Mozeliak’s part. Use the kid.
*I like Randal Grichuk but he shouldn’t have started against Zach Greinke. Sure, he has the better defense in the outfield and hit a Kershaw hanger for a home run, but when will Oscar get his shot. Randal has 1 hit in 8 at bats with three strikeouts and a walk. I prefer a platoon. Randal isn’t tearing the cover off the ball and neither is Oscar. They combined to make a fine platoon in September after the right field position was a weak dish for five months. Everybody in town knows Randal will start Game 3 against Hyun-Jin Ryu on Monday, so that will be three straight starts for Grichuk. The guy who had 3 HR and 8 RBI with a .245 average on the season but got mistaken for Miguel Cabrera suddenly. I am an Oscar honk and belong to his fan club, but I respect the need to get Grichuk in there. I don’t agree with the choice to hit him against Greinke. Oscar did pinch hit and got a single(while narrowing missing getting thrown out on first on a bad baserunning play). Oscar got a hit and started a rally. Grichuk didn’t do anything. If the platoon worked, stick with it. Let’s get this straight. If you weren’t going to trade Oscar at the deadline, use him. If you are going to put him on the roster, use him. He should have started Games 2 & 4. Simple as that. Grichuk will more than likely get 12 at bats in the first three games. Oscar may get 3. That’s not right. Then again, I better hold up before this paragraph gets mistaken for a love letter.
*Neshek has been human of late. When he misses his location, he misses by a LOT. That’s not haterade folks. It’s a fact. He hadn’t pitched this many innings(69 innings) since the 2007 season. He is wearing down. He allowed a .289 average to opposing hitters in September after allowing a .143, .179 and .226 in previous months. He was lit up for 5 earned runs in 11 innings in September. Pat isn’t locating well. Beware using him from here on out.
Lance Lynn pitched great, allowing two earned runs in 6 innings. He threw 115 pitches and worked around the Kolten Wong miscue in stranding runners on third base in two late innings. He allowed a couple of hits to Greinke but gave the Cards a chance.
The Dodgers edged the Cards. The end. A few mistakes and miscues, but overall a straight up loss that wasn’t as brutal as it played out when thought about afterwards.
The Cards never make things easy folks so strap in. This series may very well go 5 games and come back to Waino and Kershaw in Los Angeles.
Monday night, a sea of red will drape Busch Stadium and John Lackey will try to continue his bulldog stance in the playoffs. If he doesn’t and gets crushed, the midseason trade starts to smell a little. The Cards have proven to be able to match the Dodgers in run production so far. The pitching has to be there. Lackey has to perform. Forget about 2015. It’s about Monday.
See you then. Enjoy the football and the day off from excruciating yet exhilarating playoff baseball.