Dodgers 5, Cardinals 3

kempethierfistbump.jpgBe
honest. If I’d come up to you before the game and said, “so, you know
how everyone’s all freaking out about how awesome Chris Carpenter is?
Yeah, well, Randy Wolf’s going to put 11 men on – five walks! – in just
3.2 innings, including loading the bases with zero out in the first,”
how would you have felt about tonight’s odds?

If you said anything other than “I’d feel like stepping in front of
a bus… that’s headed off a cliff… and is full of orphans… with
diseases,” then you’re a dirty, dirty liar, and it’s time to
re-evaluate your life.

Really, it’s Wolf’s struggles that were the story of this game. He
wasn’t good – far from it. (To be fair, saying “five walks” is pretty
misleading, as two were intentional jobs to Albert Pujols and he
was getting squeezed by home plate umpire Dana DeMuth all night.) But
despite clearly not having his best stuff, Wolf was able to
keep the messes he kept getting into from getting out of control, which
is more than Carpenter could say. Wolf’s two runs allowed came on a
ball that Matt Kemp probably should have had in the first, and a
cueball double by Skip Schumaker in the fourth.

Meanwhile, Carpenter was also not his usual self – even the outs
were hit hard – but unlike Wolf, wasn’t able to avoid the big play,
which was of course a two-run bomb by Kemp that put a point – as if
there was any question - onto his arrival on the national stage as a
big-time player.

Wolf’s line was terrible tonight, and I guarantee you’re going to
see a slew of articles in the morning about how the Dodgers rotation
issues are already rearing their head. In my book, I’m giving Wolf a
huge deal of credit for keeping this thing calm when he could have
easily left down 6-2. 

Heroes

Matt Kemp. He got a poor jump on that ball in the
first that could have prevented the first run, but more than made up
for it. If the Dodgers go quietly in the bottom of the first after the
Cards loaded the bases in the top, it could have changed the complexion
of the entire game. It’s amazing how different it feels to be facing a
Cy Young winner when you’ve just deposited a ball into the dead center
bleachers, doesn’t it?

Jeff Weaver. The man who I didn’t expect to even be
on the NLDS roster was put into an impossible spot when Wolf left in
the 4th inning. The Cards had loaded the bases with two outs, and had
just scored to draw within a run. A hit here blows the entire game
open; but Weaver got Ryan Ludwick to tap weakly back to the mound to
put out the fire, and then added a scoreless fifth on top of it.

Rafael Furcal. After a very mediocre season, Furcal
ended the year red-hot (.891 OPS in Sept/Oct). But who knew if that
would hold up into October? Well, how’s 3-4 with a triple and a
sacrifice fly RBI strike you? He could be a huge secret weapon this
month.

Every Dodger pitcher who faced Albert Pujols. When
you’re facing the absolutely-no-doubt-about-it, might-not-even-be-human
best player alive, and in five trips to the plate he comes away with
three groundouts and two intentional walks, you know you’ve done a good
job. That is how you beat the Cardinals. For the record, that’s
Wolf three times (two intentional walks and a groundout), Belisario
once (groundout), and Broxton once (groundout).

Having an awesome bullpen.
Belisario in the 6th! Kuo in the 7th! Sherrill in the 8th! Broxton in
the 9th! That’s just the scariest foursome of fireballers around, and
you haven’t even used Ramon Troncoso yet.

Including Weaver, the
five relievers combined for 5.1 innings of 5 hit, 1 run ball, a line
which could have even been better if Kemp hadn’t misplayed that hit in
the 9th. We’ve been saying it for months around here – it doesn’t
matter if your starters go deep into games in a short series with lots
of off-days when you have a pen like this.

Joe Torre. No hesitation to pull Wolf in the 4th
before things got out of hand, inevitable complaining that he’s
overworking the bullpen be damned. Clearly, you can’t ask the pen to
work 5-6 innings every night, but few things are more important than
winning a Game 1.

Brendan Ryan.
This was probably common knowledge to a lot of people, but I had
absolutely no idea he was rocking such an epic pornstar/child molester
‘stache. The sheer cojones it takes to wear such a thing puts
him squarely in the “heroes” category, and probably gets him on the
offseason list of “guys we need to trade for.”

Just look at it. Look at it. It’s glorious, horrifying, and ingenious all at the same time.

MSTI fans on Facebook. What? You’re not a fan yet? What are you waiting for? We had a pretty good conversation going on over there tonight. It’s what the cool kids are doing.

Goats

Tony LaRussa. Come on, Tony. I know you’re
notorious for this, so I can’t be surprised, but do you have any idea
how painful it is to watch you stride to the mound 12 times a night?
Did we really need to go through 3 pitchers in the 6th inning? I’m
watching this game from the East Coast, friend-o. Help a brother get
some sleep. This game didn’t need to be 3 hours, 52 minutes.

Mark DeRosa. It didn’t mean much in the course of the game, but there’s throwing errors and then there’s throwing errors. That ball he airmailed into right field from third base was at least 25 feet off the ground. Hey, keep it up, fella!

Matt Kemp.
Hey, Bison, you can hit awesome dingers off Cy Young Award winners all
you want. That’s enough to look past a bad jump that probably cost a
run in the first inning. And while not getting to the possible
game-ending ball was bad enough, allowing it to bounce past you to
allow a run to score is unacceptable. Fortunately, Broxton was able to
end it, but it should never have come to the tying run being at the
plate. That said, it was good to see him mouth “my bad” during the
fistbumps at the end.

Cashing in opportunities. This is on both teams; an
NLDS record 30 men left on base. You could say “well, that’s good
pitching not letting runners score,” but remember – you have to get 30
men on base in the first place.

TBS. I know it’s probably hard to get used to live events when you’re mostly showing reruns of Family Guy
and “Con Air”, but you realize how bad things are when the fact you’re
subjecting us to the Corpse of Dick Stockton isn’t the worst offense,
right? Because I know when I think of “playoff baseball,” I think “Dick
Stockton”. Actually, when I think of “Dick Stockton,” I think of
“Grizzlies! Timberwolves! It’s meaningless December basketball!” Or at
least I would if I gave a dick about the NBA. Which I do not. Anyway,
it’s all well and good that you point out that you realize you’re
having technical difficulties, but could you, I don’t know, FIX IT? I
was seeing jumpy video and losing audio for the entire game. Oh, and
Dick – Carpenter wasn’t “gritty” tonight. He was just lousy.  

Bill Plaschke. It goes without saying that he’s
always a goat, but I’m starting to wonder why the grumpy old man agrees
to cover a team he so clearly hates. What were your thoughts in the
first inning? Mine went something along the lines of “Crap, Wolf
doesn’t look great/Phew, he got out of it/MATT KEMP IS A GOLDEN GOD!”

Billy’s thoughts?

First error on Joe Torre, for playing
Ronnie Belliard at second base, fly ball falls between Belliard and
Matt Kemp for first Cardinal run..

Don’t
forget, tomorrow’s a 3:07pm Pacific start. So skip work, cut class,
break out of jail, do whatever you need to do. Kershaw! Wainwright!
Dodgers lead, 1-0!

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