Matt Adams homer stuns Kershaw and Dodgers, sends Cardinals to NLCS with 3-2 Game 4 win
With their season on the brink, the Dodgers turned to Clayton Kershaw -- who will almost certainly win this year's NL Cy Young Award - in Tuesday's Game 4 against the Cardinals. The southpaw returned for his second start in the series after being knocked around for eight runs by the Cardinals in Game 1.
St. Louis found itself in a familiar situation, with the opportunity to advance to its fourth straight National League Championship Series. The team called on Shelby Miller -- who was making his first career postseason start -- to try and avoid a return trip to Los Angeles.
Kershaw was dominant from the outset, beginning the first inning by fanning the side and looking like the pitcher who had won four consecutive ERA titles.
The lefty was locked in a scoreless pitching duel with Miller until the sixth inning, when the Dodgers opened with singles by Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez to put runners at the corners. The Cardinals happily traded a run for two outs when Matt Kemp bounced into a double play.
But Miller then proceeded to hit Hanley Ramirez and walk Andre Ethier, ending the young starter's day. Seth Maness entered the game and Juan Uribe greeted him with an RBI single to give the Dodgers a 2-0 lead.
That seemed like more than enough for Kershaw, who cruised through the sixth and K'd his personal tormenter, Matt Carpenter, on his way to striking out the side and running his total up to nine on the day.
But in a repeat of Game 1, the seventh inning did Kershaw in. He allowed a pair of singles, and then Matt Adams came to the plate and cleared the bases with this blast to right field. Just like that, 2-0 Dodgers became 3-2 Cardinals.
The man they call "Big City" was pumped.
And he took an extra moment to enjoy it.
The Dodgers showed some signs of life in the ninth, putting runners on first and second base for Carl Crawford, but he could not come through against Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal.
And there will be another LCS in St. Louis.
The Game Changer
The Cardinals struggled as a team to hit home runs this season, finishing with the lowest total in the National League, but that all changed during this Division Series.
The team that couldn't hit home runs this season now has accounted for 13 of 18 NLDS runs off them. #stlcards— Jenifer Langosch (@LangoschMLB) October 7, 2014
Perhaps the most puzzling part of their new-found power surge was that their left-handed hitters starting hitting long balls off left-handed pitchers, including two off Kershaw.
Cardinals left-handed hitters vs left-handed pitching Regular Season: 8 HR NLDS: 5 HR— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 7, 2014
Other Key Players/Plays
Kershaw did not allow many runners to reach base during the early innings of the game, but when he did, he got some help from his defense. For instance, this double play started by Hanley Ramirez.
Later in the game, Jerry Layne destroyed a balloon of doom hellbent on destroying the human race.
The Cardinals will now face the Giants in Game 1 of the NLCS on Saturday at 8 p.m. ET on FOX. They'll have time to set their rotation, though ace Adam Wainwright is expected to open the series for St. Louis.
This one could sting for a while in Los Angeles. They're left to ponder how they lost two games after handing the best pitcher in baseball a lead in the seventh inning, twice. And how once again, they lost to the Cardinals.