NLCS Game 3: Help Us Hiroki, You’re Our Only Hope

Well, except for the fact that the Dodgers have killed Phillies starter Jamie Moyer. That should help too. I’m talking about the players that make up the current Dodgers, by the way, which means that most of their at-bats against Moyer have come as members of the Red Sox (Manny, Nomar) Indians (Blake) or Royals (Berroa). Why is that such an important distinction to say “players on the Dodgers” rather than just “against the Dodgers”? Because while it’s true that Moyer is 3-5 with a 5.19 ERA in 11 career starts against LA, I hardly think that it’s useful for tonight’s game to know that Moyer lasted only 2/3 of an inning in giving up 5 runs in his first start against the Dodgers… on July 10, 1986.

Actually, wait, this could be fun. Check out the starting lineup for the Dodgers on that day against Jamie Moyer. I like to think I’m a pretty big Dodger fan, and even I’d never heard of two of these guys:

1. Bill Russell RF (RF?!)
2. Steve Sax 2B
3. Ken Landreaux LF
4. Enos Cabell 1B
5. Jeff Hamilton 3B
6. Reggie Williams CF
7. Mariano Duncan SS
8. Jack Fimple C
9. Orel Hershiser P

So you can probably understand why I don’t really consider his performance against those Dodgers relevant. And man, no wonder that team lost 89 games, rolling out lineups like that – though to be fair, it does seem that regular starters Mike Scioscia, Greg Brock, Bill Madlock, and Mike Marshall all had the day off that day. Among Moyer’s teammates in the Chicago starting lineup that day? Davey Lopes, Ryne Sandberg, and Gary Matthews. Senior. That team also included Ron Cey and 20-year-old Greg Maddux.

Anyway, back to the present. Moyer didn’t face the 2008 Dodgers, but he sure did get destroyed in one start against them last year, giving up 10 runs in 5.1 innings on July 16. Furcal, Pierre, and Nomar each collected two hits, and Kemp and Kent each took one to the seats. The current Dodgers have had some pretty decent success against the soft-tossing senior citizen, led as always by Manny being Manny, who’s brutalized Moyer with 10 homers in 53 at-bats and a line of .340/.417/.962. No, that SLG % is not a typo. Nomar, who’s going to get the start at 1B tonight, has also done well with a .417/.432/.722 over 36 at-bats, while Kent has an .846 OPS and Kemp has the 2007 homer among his three at-bats.

The problem, however, is Casey Blake. Blake’s running into the lethal combination of “can’t hit this pitcher” (.118 BA in 17 at-bats) and “can’t hit any pitcher” (4 hits in the playoffs, hitting just .200 over the last month). Personally, I might rather have Nomar at 3B rather than 1B tonight, although that sounds incredibly unlikely to happen. I can’t express enough how much I don’t want to see Casey Blake resigned next year.

On the other side, Hiroki Kuroda has been excellent lately and outstanding against the Phillies. He made two starts against them in August and allowed just four hits in 13 innings, striking out 12. Keep an eye out for Chase Utley, who got two of the hits, but Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, and Pat Burrell went a combined 0-16 against our man Hiroki.

Being down 2-0 in the NLCS isn’t a good situation, but you couldn’t ask for more fortuitous circumstances. You’ve got a starter who dominated the Phillies, and you’re going against a guy who’s never had any success against your boys – plus, it’s back at Dodger Stadium, which is huge in a series where the home team has won all ten games this year. Must win? Hell yeah, it is, not just because of the repercussions if you don’t, but because if you can’t win with the deck stacked so heavily in your favor, you don’t deserve to advance at this level anyway.

- Mike Scioscia’s tragic illness msti-face.jpg