When Zack Greinke loaded the bases with none out in the first, missing badly a few times, you could be forgiven for thinking the worst. After last night’s loss, with elimination staring them in the face and the knowledge that an injured Hanley Ramirez wasn’t likely to be the savior this time around (hitless again today, he left after six), it wasn’t at all hard to see the fifth game of the NLCS — and the 2013 season with it — falling apart before it even got started.
But he managed to escape that first inning without damage, thanks to a crucial Matt Adams whiff and a nice Juan Uribe double play, and after getting Yadier Molina into a double play to end that third, he cruised through seven, retiring 13 consecutive Cardinals. Greinke wasn’t really at his best today, striking out only four, but clearly he managed to make it work. If that doesn’t say enough about how fantastic of a pitcher Greinke is, I don’t know what does; it’s the 15th consecutive time he’s allowed two or fewer runs.
Greinke also knocked in the second run of the game with a single in the second, but that’s really just a gateway into the other main story of this game: Offense, sweet, sweet offense! A third-inning ball crushed by Adrian Gonzalez! A fifth-inning ball absolutely crushed by Carl Crawford! A seventh-inning blast from A.J. Ellis, pushing the lead to 5-2! Gonzalez hitting yet another in the eighth! In the first four games of the NLCS, the Dodgers had scored only seven runs; they nearly matched that today.
Brian Wilson threw a quick eighth behind Greinke, while Kenley Jansen ran into trouble (thanks partially to Yasiel Puig losing a ball in the sun), allowing two runs to score and the go-ahead run to come to the plate. But he survived — technically, he struck out the side, while inciting thousands of heart attacks while doing so.
With the win, the Dodgers finish off the Los Angeles portion of the NLCS by doing all you reasonably could have asked — they took two of three, and they send the series back to St. Louis. So after a day off tomorrow, we get something truly fun on Friday night: Clayton Kershaw against Michael Wacha in St. Louis, with the Cards trying to earn a trip to the World Series in front of their home fans, and the Dodgers trying to push it to Game 7. I can’t say this has always been fun, but… lord, this is fun.