Well, just call me Professor Trelawney. (I apologize for the lame Harry Potter reference) In my last post about the Dodgers and the Cardinals, I listed what I thought needed to happen for the Dodgers to win. Lo and behold, it did. I must be getting better at this.
The buzz is slowly starting to to wear off from the improbable Dodger win that saw the men in blue have dominating bats, and the Cardinal pitching fail epically. Randy Wolf pitched well enough to leave the game in the fourth inning with a 4-2 lead, after a Matt Kemp 2-run home run, a Casey Blake RBI, and a Rafael Furcal triple. Chris Carpenter started off bad and was never able to quite get his feet under him. By the time the sixth inning rolled around both starting pitchers were out of the game and the Dodgers were clinging to a 4-3 lead. They added one more run and hard as he tried, Johnathan Broxton couldn't blow the save. With the series now 1-0 Dodgers, we look ahead to today's matchup that pits the young gun Clayton Kershaw against The Cardinals Adam Wainwright.
Looking at the recent exercise in futility by the other pitchers on the Dodger staff, Kershaw appears to be the Dodger ace for the coming post season. With an ERA of 3.36, he's been able to manage games without digging himself too big of a hole. There were some games where he looked like a 21 year old and wasn't able to get his other pitches in for strikes, but every pitcher is going to have days like that.
In the end, if the Dodgers want to be successful against this powerful Cardinal lineup, they need Kershaw to perform well. He has the fastball and change up to compliment his devastating curveball, but as the great Vin Sculley said-
"You can have great stuff, but if you can't throw it for strikes its like having a rolls royce with the parking break on." (Funnily enough, Sculley was actually referring to Kershaw when he said this. It was after Kershaw had been taken out of a game in the third inning against the Padres.)
It's going to be crucial that Kershaw get's speed variations on his pitches so the Cardinal batters don't key up on him the second and third time through the lineup.
For the Cardinals, their pitching has to get it together. If the Dodgers keep swinging the bat like they did in game one, they can easily take over a game and jump ahead by a lot of runs very quickly. The Cardinals are also going to have to get Pujols going for them to have any sort of success.
If the Dodgers are going to win this game, they are going to have to do it behind the arm of Kershaw. He's got all the tools to achieve ace status, and this is going to be his first real test. Seeing as he's so young (the tender age of 21 for all those who have forgotten) he's also going to have to deal with nerves. If he can overcome that, and get his pitches in for strikes with lots of speed variation on them, I see no reason why the Dodgers can't take another one in Dodger Stadium