This one hurts as a Dodger fan.
The Dodgers had the 6-2 lead heading into the seventh inning in this revenge match against the St. Louis Cardinals from last year’s NLCS. A four-run lead with Clayton Kershaw on the mound? The win is a cinch.
Then, as Vin Scully noted on the radio broadcast, it seemed Kershaw lost the movement on his fastball. The velocity was there, but the movement that made hitters look silly was all gone. Then we saw it — single single single single by Matt Holliday, Jhonny Peralta, Yadier Molina and Matt Adams that cut the lead to 6-3. A strikeout of Pete Kozma, and all Kershaw needed was a double-play ball to get out of the mess.
But Jon Jay singled bringing another run home. A strikeout of a clearly overmatched pinch-hitter Oscar Taveras settled things down for a second until the realization of who was coming up to the plate. Matt Carpenter, the man who just homered off of Kershaw in the sixth inning to break the streak of 16 consecutive batters retired, the man who had an 11-pitch at-bat in Game 6 of last year’s NLCS in the third inning of a scoreless game that ended with a double. The Cardinals ended the inning with a 4-0 lead and a trip to the World Series in hand.
Back to the bases loaded in the seventh inning with two outs. There was Kershaw on the mound trying to get out of the inning with the lead. There was Carpenter thin as a rail which belies his postseason success over Kershaw. This time it didn’t take 11 pitches. It was only 8 pitches when Carpenter lined a pitch that landed at the base of the right field wall. The bases cleared, and the Cardinals had the 8-6 lead.
Normally one could point fingers to the manager wondering why he didn’t go to the bullpen before this exploded. But this is Kershaw, the presumed Cy Young winner and National League MVP. And have you seen the Dodger bullpen? In fact Pedro Baez gave up three more runs thanks to a walk to Randal Grichuk and a homer to Matt Holliday.
Even though we saw this happen last year, it’s still shocking to see Kershaw in the dugout watching what was a 6-2 victory turn into a 10-6 loss. It seemed a lot worse to see the Dodgers cough up eight than when the Tigers did it against the Orioles on Thursday. All eight of those runs came off of the deservedly maligned bullpen. This one came against Kershaw of all people.
Sure the Dodgers did good things on Friday. They had some great at-bats against Adam Wainwright knocking him out of the game in the fifth inning scoring six runs against the Cardinals ace. A.J. Ellis who had a season to forget went 3-for-3 against Wainwright with a home run, two RBIs and two runs scored. It’s also not like the Dodgers gave up after that inning. Adrian Gonzalez hit a two-run homer to cut the Cards lead to 10-8. The Dodgers scored one more in the ninth with the tying run in Andre Ethier on third base.
But all of that is a mere consolation after looking a victory in the mouth.