Must Win: Zack Greinke Starts NLDS Game 2 *Video*
Friday night’s devastating loss to the Cardinals was perhaps the most emotionally draining and upsetting game I have seen in person at Dodger Stadium. I was on a rollercoaster of highs and lows which began in the top of the first inning when Randal Grichuk (who I had little knowledge of) took Clayton Kershaw deep with a solo homerun. Feelings of worry soon vanished when the Dodgers scored six runs in the third through fifth innings to take a comfortable 6-1 lead. I was dancing and enjoying the moment, but soon would be back to a state of utter depression and anguish.
A solo homerun from Matt Carpenter off Kershaw in the sixth wasn’t fun, but hey it was just one run. No big deal. Inconsequential. After partaking in quite a few beverages during the 98° day at Dodger Stadium, I left before the seventh inning commenced thinking I could return quickly before anything important happened. When I returned back to my seat with pretzel in hand (I made an extra stop at the concession stand on the way back), Kershaw was in deep trouble. He had allowed four consecutive singles, and the game was slipping away.
It was extremely hot outside, and Kershaw had pitched some tense innings. Everyone could see he was tuckered out except Don Mattingly.
I felt the same way, Kersh. Photo: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Mattingly went out to the mound during the fateful eight-run seventh inning, but instead of having confidence in his bullpen he stuck with his ace. Kershaw’s breaking pitches were not working most of the game. I did not see that beautiful rainbow curve, and his slider was flat. The Cardinals took advantage and jumped all over his fastball. It was hard to watch. Interestingly enough, Adam Wainwright had a bad game as well.
When Don Mattingly finally went to the bullpen, the lead was gone, but the game wasn’t. Until Pedro Baez entered. I told Scott that Matt Holliday was going to hit a homerun off Baez before he actually did so. It was predictable. Baez only throws fastballs. Matt Holliday clobbers fastballs. End of story.
With my heart in my back pocket, the Dodgers made an admirable rally happen in the eighth and ninth inning scoring three more runs. Adrian Gonzalez‘s two-run homerun brought the Dodgers within two of the Red Birds. A.J. Ellis‘s heroics and Andre Ethier‘s big pinch-hit double in the bottom of the ninth brought them within one run. They had the tying run at third base with A.J., and I had to hold my rally towel over my face while Yasiel Puig was up to bat with two outs against Trevor Rosenthal. It was so nerve wracking. Unfortunately Puig was overmatched by Rosenthal who hit 100-mph with his fastball and struck out the center fielder.
My bubble has burst. It was a painful loss. It was like the 2013 NLCS Game 6 all over again. Don Mattingly made some big mistakes in the game, Kershaw was human, and the Dodgers lost what should have been a bubble-filled celebratory home victory.
Now we come to Game 2, and it’s a must-win. Zack Greinke is on the mound for the Dodgers, and he was excellent during the regular season going 17-8 with a 2.71 ERA in 32 starts. The All-Star pitched well for the Dodgers in the postseason last year, and he beat the Cardinals in Game 5 of the NLCS. He allowed 6 runs on 14 hits over 21 innings of work in the NLDS and NLCS last year. Greinke, like Kershaw, will need to get over past knockout blows at the hands of the Cardinals. Greinke had faced them in the 2011 postseason when he pitched for Milwaukee.
Greinke went 1-1 with a 3.55 ERA against the Cardinals during the regular season this year in 2 starts. Overall, he is 9-4 with a 3.17 ERA against the Cardinals in 14 regular season games in his career. Greinke has pitched very well at home this season, and he has only lost 2 games at Dodger Stadium this year in 15 starts.
Matt Holliday is hitting .324 against Greinke with 12 hits including 2 homeruns in 37 at bats.
Matt Carpenter is hitting .333 against Greinke with 6 hits and a homerun in 18 at bats.
Call to the Pen
The Cardinals will be countering with big right-hander Lance Lynn. Lynn went 15-10 with a 2.74 ERA in 33 starts for the Red Birds this year. Lynn is 1-1 with a 9.00 ERA against the Dodgers this season in 2 starts.. Overall, Lynn is 3-1 with a 4.50 ERA against the Dodgers in 5 career starts. He is 2-1 at Dodger Stadium with a 4.95 ERA in 4 starts.
Good news! Lynn had a disastrous start back in June at Dodger Stadium when he allowed 7 runs on 9 hits in only 2 innings.
Bad News. Lance Lynn went 2-0 against the Dodgers last year in the NLCS. He allowed 2 runs on 7 hits in 7 1/3 innings pitched in the 2 games. He has yet to win a postseason game as a starter.
After that shocking series opener defeat, the Dodgers need to and must win Game 2 before the series heads to St. Louis. I never expected 19
The benches and bullpens cleared during Game 1 of the NLDS at Dodger Stadium after Yasiel Puig was hit with a pitch by Adam Wainwright. Photo: Stacie Wheeler
runs to be recorded between the two teams when both their aces were on the mound, but that’s why baseball is so unpredictable. Momentum can shift from game to game, inning to inning, and even pitch to pitch. If you don’t believe in postseason momentum, then I’d like to direct you to the 2014 Royals. The Dodgers scored a lot of runs in Game 1 only to be outdueled by the Cardinals 10-9, but by tying up the series
behind Zack Greinke they could swing that postseason pendulum back in their favor.
Tensions are high between the two clubs as evident from the brouhaha in the third inning when Adam Wainwright hit Yasiel Puig in the
shoulder with a pitch. Adrian Gonzalez, usually the calm one, was angry. Yadier Molina and Adrian Gonzalez yelled in each other’s face, and then Yadier Molina pushed the umpire, but surprisingly wasn’t ejected. The benches and bullpen emptied, but luckily it didn’t end up in a brawl.
Obviously the Cardinals are a tough team for the Dodgers to beat in the postseason, but the Dodgers have all the talent at their arsenal to beat them. Another knockout series loss at the hands of the Cardinals would be dreadful to the team and the fans, because Bluetober has only just begun.
The 6:30 p.m. PT game will air on MLB Network.
On DIRECTV, MLB Network is channel 213/213 (HD). It is channel 152/152 (HD) on DISH Network. On Verizon Fios it’s 86 (SD) and 586 (HD). Time Warner Cable has MLB Network on 306 (SD) and 470 (HD). On AT&T it’s 634 (SD) and 1634 (HD).