Matt Kemp's homer helps end NLDS Game 2 at reasonable time in 3-2 Dodgers win over Cards
After Game 1 of the National League Division Series went the way approximately nobody expected -- a Clayton Kershaw-Adam Wainwright matchup turned into a slugfest and 10-9 St. Louis win -- the Dodgers and Cardinals turned to a pair of hurlers very capable of producing a pitchers' duel of their own.
Los Angeles righty Zack Greinke was making his seventh playoff appearance total and fifth postseason start against the Cardinals. Similarly, St. Louis right-hander Lance Lynn prepped to pitch against the Dodgers in October for the third time in less than a year.
The game's first run didn't come without controversy. With men on the corners and nobody out in the third, Dee Gordon sent a grounder to the right side to score A.J. Ellis. Although it was initially ruled a double play, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly challenged the call when replays showed Kolten Wong tagged Greinke -- running from first to second -- with just his glove, not the ball.
Good thing, too. Two batters later, Adrian Gonzalez singled home Greinke, to make it 2-0:
The Cardinals didn't manage a hit until the fifth. After Wong doubled, Greinke bounced back by getting back-to-back strikeouts of Randal Grichuk and Lance Lynn. That drew a little excitement from this young Los Angeles fan.
It stayed 2-0 Dodgers until the eighth. Just minutes after the Giants won an 18-inning marathon over the Nationals in Washington, Los Angeles reliever J.P. Howell coughed up the lead at Dodger Stadium. Matt Carpenter ripped a first-pitch homer to right for a 2-2 tie.
Left-handed batters hit .170 off J.P. Howell this season. The #STLCards just collected three straight hits by left-handed hitters.- Jenifer Langosch (@LangoschMLB) October 5, 2014
Fortunately for any Californians having nightmares of the game becoming something like the 18-inning test of endurance that had just ended in Washington, Matt Kemp untied it in a hurry. He smacked a Pat Neshek slider just inside the foul pole in left for a home run and 3-2 Dodgers lead in the bottom of the eighth.
Matt Kemp hit his 3rd career postseason go-ahead HR, only Duke Snider (4) has more in #Dodgers franchise history.- Ace of MLB Stats (@AceballStats) October 5, 2014
The Game Changer
In a postseason that has regularly featured shoddy relief, blown saves and extra-inning scenarios, these three words are beautiful for LA fans:
Jansen warming up.- Ken Gurnick (@kengurnick) October 5, 2014
Kenley Jansen entered and had little issue finishing off the Cardinals. Wong battled, but even he succumbed after the ninth pitch, a 96-mph cutter.
The game ended when Grichuk couldn't check his swing on a cutter up and in.
Other Key Players, Plays
Gordon didn't get much of a chance to flash his athleticism on the bases Saturday, but his leaping catch in the top of the third stranded a St. Louis runner. Just as impressively, Gordon trotted off the field with a calmness that said, "Yeah, I just did that."
Lance Lynn deserved a better fate. He grinded through six innings, holding the Dodgers to two runs on seven hits. His night came to an end when, with the bases loaded, he got Greinke to ground out to third to escape the sixth inning unscathed.
Greinke, shutout intact as he stood on first base, showed off his fundies in the bottom of the fifth. He went first to third on Gordon's single, diving into third with his very expensive right hand and his less expensive left one leading the way. A little risky? Sure. Fun to watch? Oh yeah.
Greinke has one more hit (2) than the #Cards (1). He went 1st to 3rd & went in head first. I thought, "that wasn't smart", but still smiled.- gabe kapler (@gabekapler) October 5, 2014
Dodgers-Cardinals, the only division series knotted at 1, shifts to St. Louis for Game 3 on Monday. Lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu gets the ball for Los Angeles looking for a repeat performance of his seven shutout innings against the Cardinals in last year's NLCS.
John Lackey, meanwhile, will try to build on his four quality starts to wrap up the regular season. This is his seventh postseason, and he owns a 3.03 ERA in 19 appearances (16 starts).