The St. Louis Cardinals beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-1 tonight to win the NLDS and advance to the NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Adam Wainwright started Game 5 for the Cardinals a pitched a complete game surrendering only one run on eight hits. He struck out seven batters including Pedro Alvarez for the final out of the game.
The Pirates had a 2-1 lead in the NLDS, but couldn't put it away. In Game 4, Michael Wacha nearly threw a no-hitter and needed only a two-run home run from Matt Holliday to win 2-1.
Tonight, the Pirates opted to start rookie Gerrit Cole over veteran A.J. Burnett. Cole pitched effectively in Game 2 while Burnett got bombed in Game 1. Cole pitched adequately over five innings, but gave up a two-run home run to 2011 World Series hero David Freese.
The Cardinals added a run in the sixth on a single by Jon Jay to take a 3-0 lead. Pedro Alvarez drove in the Bucs' only run in the seventh on a single. St. Louis put it away in the eighth against Pirates reliever Mark Melancon with a two-run home run by Matt Adams (who has been filling in for the injured Allen Craig) and a single by Pete Kozma (who made several spectacular plays at short tonight). The Cardinals took a 6-1 lead and the Pirates dream season is now over. But I don't think this is the last we hear from the Bucs.
Although the Cardinals and Dodgers are mainstays of the NL, they have seldom met in the playoffs.
There was a two game playoff to determine the NL pennant in 1946. The Cardinals won both games and went on to beat the Boston Red Sox in seven games to win the World Series.
However, this is only the second time the Cardinals and Dodgers have met in the NLCS. They last met in the NLCS in 1985, a series best remembered for Ozzie Smith hitting his first career home run as a lefthanded hitter much to the shock of the late Jack Buck. "Go crazy, folks!!!" The Cardinals won the '85 NLCS in six games.
The Cardinals and Dodgers did face each other in the NLDS in 2004 and 2009. The Cardinals won in 2004 while the Dodgers swept the Cardinals in 2009 in a series Matt Holliday would rather forget.
I have a bad feeling that Holliday and the Cardinals will leave LA with bad memories. Prediction: Dodgers in six. NLCS MVP: Hanley Ramirez.
The NLCS begins Friday in St. Louis.