Greinke’s Pitching, Four Long Balls Keep Dodger Hopes Alive


The goal for the Dodgers before Wednesday afternoon’s NLCS game 5 was simple. Somehow, someway get the club on a plane to St. Louis. With the Dodgers trailing in the series 3-2 in games, the club was facing a must win elimination game on Wednesday.

After Tuesday night’s frustrating 4-2 loss, it seemed like game 5 might have been it. I wasn’t very confident with the club’s offense struggling so much. The Dodgers had pulled off a 3-0 win in Monday night’s game 3 behind a dominating performance from Hyun-jin Ryu. The Dodgers have their rotation lined up just the way they want. As Zack Greinke took the mound in game 5 against rookie Joe Kelly. Greinke’s job is to get the ball to Clayton Kershaw, the scheduled starter in game 6, who in turn has to get the ball to Ryu, who would pitch a game 7, if things get that far.

Gonzalez hit two home runs in the Dodger’s game 5 win-Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

But things looked bleak early on. Greinke looked nervous and started out by loading the bases with nobody out. Two bloop singles, and a walk to Carlos Beltran put the Dodger season in real jeopardy. Greinke looked shaky in the first inning, but was able to settle himself down, and work himself out of the jam.

“I was real nervous out there with that situation” Greinke said of the first inning.

Greinke worked his way out of it in a way that would have made David Copperfield smile. The precision pitching he used would have made any magician proud. If Greinke doesn’t foil that rally, maybe the Dodgers don’t survive. Thank god everything worked out ok. Greinke got a clutch called third strike on a 2-2 count to Matt Adams, and then induced Yadier Molina into a clutch 5-3 double play, with Juan Uribe stabbing the bouncer, stepping on third for a force and firing across the diamond for the third out.

Molina, the Red Bird’s catcher has been lackluster in the series, going 3 for 17 in the NLCS, called the first inning “frustrating”. The backstop stated that it’s part of the game, and that it was just a bad game. That was one of two double plays that Molina hit into.

From that point on Greinke would not allow much, as he allowed the Dodger offense time to catch up. That finally happened in the third inning as the club pounded opposing starter Joe Kelly for three home runs, and four runs in five frames.

Gonzalez goes yard, one of his two home runs-Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

The Dodgers grabbed the lead in the second inning by using four singles from Gonzalez, Puig, Uribe, and Greinke. With Gonzo, and Puig on base, Uribe bounced a single up the middle, much like the one from the third inning of game 1. With a run in, Greinke’s single brought home the second run.

The Cardinals would tie the game in the third inning. Poor Greinke seemed to be getting BABIP’d as the saber kids would say. Carpenter singled, and then a booming RBI triple off the top of the wall in center put the Cardinals on the board. An RBI double from Holliday immediately after tied the game at 2-2.

If the Dodgers are going to get to the World Series, Adrian Gonzalez is going to have to take charge on offense. He did that in game 5. Gonzalez hit two huge home runs in the Dodger’s 6-4 win. The first of the two bombs came in the bottom of the third to give the Dodgers a 3-2 lead. As Gonzalez went back to the dugout, he made a fake mickey mouse symbol with his hands. After all according to Wainwright, he’s Disneyland.

Gonzo took it all in stride with humility. The Dodger leader and first baseman said “Just having fun with the comment” Nothing against them.”

Greinke continued to settle in and at one point retired 13 consecutive Cardinal hitters. In the end after seven frames, Greinke had limited the Cards to just two runs on six hits, with four whiffs. Brian Wilson took over on the mound in the top of the eighth.

The Dodgers padded their leads with three more long balls, tying a franchise postseason record for most home runs on a playoff game.  A Carl Crawford jack in the fifth inning. That was Crawford’s fourth home run of the postseason. Catcher A.J. Ellis hit one out in the bottom of the seventh which made it a 5-2 Dodger lead.

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Puigmania-Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Finally Gonzo’s second home run came in the bottom of the eighth, giving the Dodgers a 6-2 lead at the time. The Cardinals mounted a late rally, giving the Dodgers and their fans a scare. Kenley Jansen battled through it, and was able to secure the win. There was a pop fly that Puig lost in the sun, and run scoring hits from Adams and Kozma. But Jansen whiffed Molina, Freese, and Chambers to preserve the 6-4 win, and the Dodgers forced a game 6.

The club will spend tonight at home, and then leave for St. Louis tomorrow afternoon. Game 6 is scheduled for Friday night at Busch Stadium at 5:37 PM.

Honestly I thought the club had little chance after their frustrating 4-2 loss in game 4 put them on the brink of elimination. The Dodgers fortunately had other ideas. The boys in blue battled one last time in front of their home crowd, and sent Dodger fans home with hope.

This is what I was hoping for. At the least don’t let the Cardinals celebrate on our home field. Let them earn a win at home. At least make them sweat a little. The Dodgers did more than that with this clutch win. They’ve given us all hope again. The odds may still be against the Dodgers needing two more wins on the road to go to the World Series, but this thrilling win makes it possible for the Dodgers to pull the impossible.

On the anniversary of Kirk Gibson’s 1988 World Series game 1 homer, and the 1988 world series championship the Dodgers are on the doorstep of the World Series. With the Dodgers best pitcher Clayton Kershaw set to take the mound for game 6, perhaps the club can pull off another miracle, and make the improbable possible. After all, tis the season for miracles.