A couple of days ago, I declared it would be damn near impossible for anything to top the A’s-Royals AL Wild Card game.
Well, Game 1 of the NLDS between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Los Angeles Dodgers came pretty close.
It was expected to be a pitchers’ duel between Dodgers ace and likely NL Cy Young/MVP Clayton Kershaw and Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright, the best pitcher in MLB never to have won a Cy Young. These expectations would not be met.
The Cards took an early 1-0 when rookie outfielder Randall Grichuk homered off Kershaw in the 1st. Things started to get interesting after Wainwright plunked Yasiel Puig in the third. Puig took his base, but Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez got into the face of Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina. For a moment, it looked like Molina was going to get into it with Gonzalez the way he did with Brandon Phillips of the Reds a few years ago. The benches cleared and Molina had to be restrained by Cardinals manager Mike Matheny. Ordered was restored when Wainwright approached Puig and assured him he wasn’t trying to hit him. Indeed, why would Wainwright want to put the tying run on base.
The confrontation lit a fire under the Dodgers. Hanley Ramirez and Carl Crawford would drive in runs with a single and double, respectively, to give the Dodgers a 2-1 lead. In the fourth, the Dodger lead climbed to 4-1 on singles by Puig and Matt Kemp. A two-run HR by Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis in the fifth would give the Dodgers a 6-1 lead and knock Wainwright out of the game.
Meanwhile, Kershaw was in Cy Young form striking out five batters in a row. He would give up another solo HR this time to Matt Carpenter in the sixth. Still, a 6-2 lead with Kershaw on the mound looked insurmountable. And then along came the seventh inning.
Kershaw gave up four straight hits to Matt Holliday, Jhonny Peralta, Molina and Matt Adams who singled in Holliday. The Dodgers’ lead was down to 6-3. Kershaw managed to strike out Pete Kozma, but then gave up another single to Jon Jay scoring Peralta. 6-4 Dodgers. Kershaw struck out rookie pinch hitter Oscar Taveras for the second out. This brought up Carpenter. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly very nearly took out Kershaw, but he would have none it. Carpenter made him pay by hitting a base clearing double to give the Cardinals a 7-6 lead.
The Cardinals would pad the lead later in the inning to a 10-6 on a three run HR by Holliday.
Larry King, Mary Hart and 54,000 other Dodgers fans couldn’t believe what they saw. BTW, Mary Hart hasn’t aged a day since the 1980’s.
But the Dodgers didn’t pack it in. Gonzalez made it a two run game with a long HR in the eighth off Cardinals’ lefty specialist Randy Choate. The Dodgers would rally in the ninth against Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal. Although Rosenthal was throwing 100 MPH, it didn’t stop Ellis from hitting a single and Andre Ethier from hitting a double. Ellis would score on a groundout by Dee Gordon. This brought up Puig as the winning run. A classic battle of irresistable force vs. immovable object. Although Puig fouled off many a pitch, Rosenthal eventually struck him out to preserve a 10-9 win for the Cardinals. St. Louis takes a 1-0 lead in the NLDS. Game 2 takes place tomorrow night. Who knows what might be in store then?
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