It’s been mentioned a few times on the TBS telecast of the NLCS between the Dodgers and Cardinals that many St. Louis players who were around remember last season’s playoffs more than winning the World Series in 2011.
Why? The Cards had a good shot to repeat and were up 3-1 in the 2012 NLCS against San Francisco. Two of St. Louis’ best pitchers, Chris Carpenter and Kyle Lohse, were still available if needed. However, the Cards’ bats went silent. After scoring 24 runs in the first four games, the Cardinals were outscored 20-1 in Games 5-7. It was the fourth time in franchise history the Cardinals blew a 3-1 series lead, having also happened in the 1968 and 1985 World Series and the 1996 NLCS.
Perhaps that gives Los Angeles hope heading back to St. Louis for Game 6 on Friday after the Dodgers staved off elimination with a 6-4 win Wednesday behind a combined three home runs from former Red Sox players Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford.
More good news for L.A. is that lock Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw starts Game 6, and the Dodgers will open around -125 favorites at Bovada with Live Betting available. The lefty was terrific in the Game 2 1-0 loss, allowing two hits and one unearned run while striking out five over six innings. The Cardinals’ run was on a Jon Jay sac fly in the fifth inning that scored David Freese, who had earlier advanced to third on a passed ball.
Kershaw should be prepared to pitch deep into Friday’s game after Dodgers manager Don Mattingly lifted him for pinch hitter Michael Young in the seventh inning Saturday night. Kershaw had thrown just 72 pitches.
Kershaw has a 0.47 ERA this postseason in 19 innings, giving up eight hits and striking out 23. He hasn’t allowed more than two earned runs in a start since September 2. Pete Kozma has had the most success against Kershaw with four hits and three RBIs in seven career at-bats. Matt Holliday has 10 hits in 35 at-bats with a homer. Carlos Beltran, one of the great postseason hitters ever, is 5-for-24 with no homers in his career off Kershaw, who is 0-3 against St. Louis in 2013.
The Cardinals will counter with Michael Wacha. The rookie dominated the Dodgers in Game 2, striking out eight in 6 2/3 scoreless innings. It should be noted that neither Hanley Ramirez nor Andre Ethier started in Game 2 due to injury; both should Friday. That was Wacha’s first career start against L.A., and he fanned Yasiel Puig in all three at-bats. In his past three starts dating to his regular-season finale, Wacha has a 0.40 ERA in 22 2/3 innings, with hitters batting just .093 off him.
A potential Game 7 Saturday is expected to feature Dodgers lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu against St. Louis ace Adam Wainwright. Ryu outdueled Wainwright in Game 3, shutting out St. Louis on three hits over seven. Wainwright gave up two runs on six hits in seven innings. It was his first career postseason loss. The Cardinals would love to win Game 6 and have Wainwright potentially for three starts in the World Series.