Cardinla KO Kershaw, Dodgers
By R.B. FALLSTROM
ST. LOUIS — With the red-clad crowd roaring more loudly with every pitch, Matt Carpenter became more determined — to get a hit and help lead the St. Louis Cardinals back to the World Series.
On Clayton Kershaw’s 11th offering, Carpenter lined a doubled to right field. It turned out to be the start of something really big.
Carlos Beltran followed with another key hit in a four-run third inning that stunned the Dodgers ace, Michael Wacha was again magnificent on the mound and St. Louis advanced to its second World Series in three seasons by roughing up Los Angeles 9-0 in Game 6 of the NL championship series Friday night.
“I’m so happy right now. We did it as a team,” Beltran said. “We fought hard, we worked hard all season long and thank God we’re here.”
Wacha, a rookie, was selected MVP of the series after throwing 13 2-3 scoreless innings and beating Kershaw twice in the NLCS. He pitched seven innings of two-hit ball Friday.
“We want to see it a few more times, a couple at least,” manager Mike Matheny said.
With four runs in the third and five more in the fifth, the Cardinals quickly removed all the tension surrounding a team that squandered a 3-1 series lead in the NLCS last fall against San Francisco.
Game 1 of the World Series is Wednesday at the winner of the ALCS between the Boston Red Sox and Detroit Tigers. The Cardinals won their 19th NL pennant and will be trying for their third title since 2006, last winning in 2011.
The glamorous Dodgers, with the second-highest payroll in baseball at $220 million, failed to reach the World Series for the first time since winning it all in 1988.
“Going through spring, the long season, and then it just comes to a crash,” Mattingly said. “So, it’s disappointing for all of us.”
After losing Game 5 in Los Angeles, the Cardinals turned to the 22-year-old Wacha once again. The right-hander was even better in outpitching Kershaw for the second time this series.
It was 52 degrees at game time, a 23-degree drop from the Kershaw-Wacha matchup in Game 2 six days earlier, and Kershaw never warmed up.
The lefty wasn’t in the mood to talk about a season in which he had a majors-best 1.83 ERA, either.
“If you don’t win, what’s the point?” Kershaw said. “It doesn’t really matter. All this stuff.”
The top NL CY Young Award candidate was knocked out of a start for the first time this season without finishing the fifth.
“I think the first time we faced him he was very tough,” Beltran said. “This time he was a little off, but that doesn’t mean anything.”
The 36-year-old Beltran had three hits and drove in two runs and made a spectacular catch in right field, helping him advance to the World Series for the first time in his 16-year career.
Perhaps showing the Cardinals weren’t stressed by the possibility of a second straight postseason meltdown, Games 1 and 5 starter Joe Kelly had a post-national anthem staredown against Dodgers reserve outfielder Scott Van Slyke that was broken up by a fed-up home plate umpire Greg Gibson after several minutes.
Kelly blinked first all in good fun but, when it counted, St. Louis wouldn’t budge.
“It was just something fun to start the game off,” Van Slyke said. “I don’t think I’ve ever talked to Joe.”
Beltran followed Carpenter’s gritty doubled with an RBI single for a 1-0 lead.
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly thought Carpenter’s grinding at-bat was the key.
“From there,” Mattingly said, “it just seemed like the flood gates opened … Took a lot out of him.”
With two outs, Yadier Molina added an RBI single, Shane Robinson drove in two runs with a single in his first career postseason start after replacing slumping Jon Jay — and advanced to second base on Dodgers rookie Yasiel Puig’s first of two errors in the Cardinals’ big innings.
The Cuban defector, who stood in the outfield during the eighth inning with his arms crossed, also struck out twice and was booed heartily. Hanley Ramirez, a last-minute addition to the Dodgers’ lineup, went 0 for 3 while playing with a broken rib.
Kershaw needed 48 pitches to get out of the third, the most pitches of his career. He took exception with one pitch in particular, complaining to plate umpire Greg Gibson after Matt Adams’ full-count walk loaded the bases.
The Dodgers bench also was vocal after the call on a pitch that may have been an inch or two low of the strike zone.
The Cardinals knocked Kershaw out in the five-run fifth.
Molina and David Freese led off with singles and Adams followed with a double to chase Kershaw. Wacha drove in a run with a fielder’s choice grounder and Carpenter had a sacrifice fly. Beltran capped the inning with an RBI single — his 37th postseason RBI in 45 career games.
Wacha has a minuscule 0.43 ERA in three postseason starts, one of the gems coming in Game 4 of the division series to keep the Cardinals alive. In his last regular season start and the NL Central up for grabs, he no-hit the Nationals for 8 2-3 innings.
Beltran was the star of the Cardinals’ 3-2, 13-inning Game 1 victory, driving in all three runs plus making a perfect throw to keep it tied in extra innings.
Kershaw was charged with seven runs on 10 hits in four-plus innings Friday. The lefty led the majors in ERA the last three years but has lost five straight starts against St. Louis.
None of his outings this year were shorter than five innings and the most runs he allowed was five, on two occasions. The four-run fourth was his worst inning since July 24, 2012, at St. Louis, when Kershaw yielded eight runs in 5 2-3 innings — six in the sixth.
The Dodgers didn’t have much of a chance again Wacha.
Carl Crawford led off the game with an infield hit but was erased on Mark Elllis’ double-play ball. A.J. Ellis doubled to start the sixth and didn’t advance.
Rules for posting comments
Comments posted below are from readers. In no way do they represent the view of Oahu Publishing Inc. or this newspaper. This is a public forum.
Comments may be monitored for inappropriate content but the newspaper is under no obligation to do so. Comment posters are solely responsible under the Communications Decency Act for comments posted on this Web site. Oahu Publishing Inc. is not liable for messages from third parties.
IP and email addresses of persons who post are not treated as confidential records and will be disclosed in response to valid legal process.
Do not post:
- Potentially libelous statements or damaging innuendo.
- Obscene, explicit, or racist language.
- Copyrighted materials of any sort without the express permission of the copyright holder.
- Personal attacks, insults or threats.
- The use of another person's real name to disguise your identity.
- Comments unrelated to the story.
If you believe that a commenter has not followed these guidelines, please click the FLAG icon below the comment.