By Steven Lieberman
It was “WWII” in St. Louis at Busch Stadium last weekend as the Dodgers were to face Cardinals hurlers Michael Wacha – the rookie-sensation - on Friday in Game 6 and then Adam Wainwright in Game 7 in the best-of-seven NL Championship Series.
The series never made it to Game 7.
With the series at 3-2 in favor of the Cardinals, the Dodgers went with their elite pitcher, Clayton Kershaw, arguably the best pitcher in MLB this season. Kershaw had an uncharacteristically bad outing and got shelled by the Cardinals bats. He would be pulled from the game in the fifth inning after allowing seven earned runs.
His fierce opponent on the Cardinals mound, Wacha, would be awarded with a two-hit shutout and a final score of 9-0 and then go on to hoist the MVP trophy. Not bad for a 22 year old rookie.
Nobody is more delighted than Cardinals right-fielder and 16-year veteran, Carlos Beltran who has had an illustrious career. This is his first trip to the World Series and a great reward for waiting so patiently. Along with his run-producing hitting in Game 6, he also made a spectacular diving catch robbing Juan Uribe of an extra-base hit in the fifth inning.
Here’s what Beltran had to say when asked about what thoughts went through his mind after the final out.
“I thank G-d for the opportunity and I thought about my family: my dad, my mom, my wife and my kids, my country and hometown, and other people that have been around me and know how much I wanted to get to this point. A great feeling to be able to come through and have this opportunity.”
On the other hand, the Dodgers were happy to win the NL West Division Championship, but had their sights set on the ultimate goal – getting to and winning the World Series with their outstanding lineup.
Unfortunately, they got bit by the injury bug in the NL Championship Series. Star shortstop, Hanley Ramirez, got hit by a pitch delivered by Cardinals hurler Joe Kelly in the opening game of the series and that seemed to somewhat dampen their chances. He had to play with extreme pain due to a fractured rib.
It also did not help their pursuits to have Andre Ethier playing with a painful left leg injury and Matt Kemp on the shelf with an injured left ankle that required surgery after the season.
But it all starts with pitching and Kershaw expressed his displeasure with his efforts.
“I just didn’t have it tonight,” he said. “Give up that many runs and you’re not going to win a game. It’s all on me. I’m disappointed. I feel like everybody worked so hard to get here, a great group of guys, and I wanted to win it for them. I wanted to get guys there, especially guys like Michael Young, somebody like that who has played his whole career without winning a World Series. That’s the toughest pill to swallow.”
Kershaw, candidate to win his second NL Cy Young Award, wasn’t able to see any upside to his great season after this loss.
“If you don’t win, what’s the point?” he said. “All the other stuff doesn’t matter. There were some good moments, a good streak (40-8 record after June 22), but unless you win the whole thing, it doesn’t make any difference.”