The Cardinals had won Game 1 and knew that they would face the best pitcher in baseball in Game 2. Also, they sent an inexperienced rookie to the mound themselves, knowing that their own ace would pitch Game 3. They had absolutely nothing to lose, but everything to gain.
This mentality really showed in their play on Saturday. Michael Wacha pitched yet another gem. He matched and eventually even outpitched Kershaw, who was lifted from the game after six innings for a pinch-hitter. The only run in the game scored on a Jon Jay sacrifice fly in the fifth inning.
The St. Louis pitching staff, Wacha and relievers Siegrist, Choate, Martinez and Rosenthal, did a great job shutting down the middle of the order for the Dodgers. Nrs. 3-6 in the lineup Adrian Gonzalez, Yasiel Puig, Juan Uribe and Skip Schumaker went a combined 0-14 with nine strikeouts. Only four position players managed to get a hit, the fitfth coming off the bat of Kershaw.
The Dodgers now find themselves in an 0-2 hole after having sent their two aces to the mound in the first two games. They will hope that a change of scenery – the series moves to Los Angeles for the next three games – will factor in a possible comeback, but they also know that they will be facing Cardinals superstar Adam Wainwright in Game 3. Andre Ethier is likely to return to the lineup and reinforce the heart of the order, but the Dodgers probably still will have to do without shortstop Hanley Ramirez.
Unlike most Dodgers has had some success against Wainwright hitting .303 off him in 33 at bats, including three home runs. If the Cardinals end up taking Game 3, chances of a comeback are close to none. The only team in professional sports ever to have come back from a 3-0 deficit are the 2004 Red Sox.
Game 3 pitching matchup
Hyun-Jin Ryu (14-8, 3.00 ERA) vs. Adam Wainwright (19-9, 2.94 ERA)
Game 3's pitching matchup is very similar to Saturday's Game 2 matchup. The home team is starting a rookie that has had some success, while the road team is sending their ace and one of the best in the game to the mound. This time, though, the Dodgers are starting the rookie Ryu, while the Cardinals will be using their ace Wainwright.
Ryu has had a very strong rookie campaign and will battle teammate Puig, among others, for this year's NL Rookie of the Year Award. The Korean lefty got off to a false start in his first postseason game. He allowed four runs in three innings against the Braves in a game his Dodgers eventually ended up winning. In his only start against the Cardinals so far he was a lot better, earning the win with seven strong innings. He allowed just an unearned run on five hits and struck out seven.
Wainwright was his own dominating postseason self in the NLDS, winning both Games 1 and 5 striking out 15 hitters in the process. Overall 'Waino' is 4-0 in his postseason career with a 2.03 ERA with 57 strikeouts in 48.2 innings. He is as close to a lock for a postseason win as possible.
Fun fact: There have not been any home runs in the first two games of this series, that is the first time in the history of the National League Championship Series. Both of tonight's pitchers on average give up less than a home run per game, so do not be surprised if this streak extends to a third straight game.
Wainwright definitely makes the Cardinals the clear favorites in this one (-117), but let's hope – for this series' sake – the Dodgers (+107) find a way to win tonight. If you're looking for betting advise: I don't think it would be a wise choice to bet against Adam Wainwright in the postseason.