Right now, in the current issue of Sports Illustrated, there’s an article discussing the possibility of clutch hitting. I’m only partway through it, but the magazine is open on my table to the picture of a Cardinal batter in mid-swing.
I don’t have to tell you that the batter is Carlos Beltran.
Forget clutch hitting, Beltran was all-around, absolutely, 100% clutch in last night’s affair. He drove in all the runs and kept the go-ahead run from scoring in extra innings with a rocket from right field. What else could you want? Well, besides his game-tying double going a couple of feet higher so as to perhaps relieve us from all of this extra-inning stuff.
It’s amazing what you can do when you cram stuff together. Joe Kelly, who finally settled in and, if we’re talking about almosts, could have perhaps had a scoreless outing if he’d been able to get down just a hair quicker on Juan Uribe‘s ball back up the middle, got a two-out single in the third. Matt Carpenter, who still doesn’t look like MVP Carpenter but is getting more into that form, drew a walk as Greinke seemed to be a bit erratic in his first time in the stretch.
That brought up Beltran. In a playoff series in October. You knew something was going to happen and it did. When the dust settled, it’s 2-2 and a brand new ballgame.
The Cards got four hits and one walk off of Greinke in his eight innings. Thankfully half the hits and the only walk came in a three-hitter span, otherwise this would have been a very different outcome.
No, I have nothing to add about that double play. I just wanted to watch it a few more times. When you read the information about how long it’d been since he’d thrown someone out at the plate, it just reinforces that Beltran loves playing in October.
(Though, MLB headline writer, ditch Car-Bel. OK, sure, I’m sure it’s a supposed to be a Superman reference, but it’s really not working.)
I also love how everyone is hammering Don Mattingly on pinch-running for Adrian Gonzalez and taking his cleanup hitter out of a game that was tied. Because that is so something we’ve seen Mike Matheny do and be burned by it. Glad to see it coming from somewhere else for once.
The Cardinals don’t exactly get to savor this one. After all, it was about 12:30 this morning when the game went final. Figure a lot of players didn’t get out of the park until two or so. Today’s game is at 3:00 PM. Maybe a few of them called their families and said, “You know, I think I’ll just stay at the stadium tonight.”
One person that I hope left the game well before the end was Michael Wacha. The rookie, he of the multiple no-hit attempts recently, takes the mound against the Dodgers this afternoon. If one of the advantages of Gerrit Cole against the Cards was the fact that they’d never seen him, Wacha could be in good shape as he’s never faced Los Angeles. Given how good he’s been, you feel pretty tolerable about him going out there, even though he doesn’t have a ton of experience.
You’d feel even better about it if he wasn’t going up against all-world pitcher Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw made a mockery of the National League during the regular season and is one of the bright shining stars in the game today. A left-hander with speed and finesse, he’s a tough task for any team, much less one that has trouble against leftys like St. Louis does.
Look down Kershaw’s splits for this year. Down in the team section.
|New York Mets||0||0||3.60||1||1||0||0||0||0||5.0||3||2||2||0||4||0||5||0||0||0||22||1.400||9.0||1.25|
|New York Yankees||0||0||0.00||1||1||0||0||0||0||8.0||5||0||0||0||0||0||5||0||0||0||28||0.625||5.6|
|San Diego Padres||1||3||.250||3.33||4||4||0||0||0||0||24.1||24||12||9||5||10||1||31||0||0||2||105||1.397||11.5||3.10|
|San Francisco Giants||3||1||.750||1.38||5||5||0||1||1||0||39.0||22||7||6||1||5||1||28||1||0||3||141||0.692||6.5||5.60|
|St. Louis Cardinals||0||2||.000||4.15||2||2||0||0||0||0||13.0||13||6||6||0||5||0||10||0||0||0||54||1.385||6.9||2.00|
|Tampa Bay Rays||1||0||1.000||1.13||1||1||0||0||0||0||8.0||3||2||1||0||2||0||8||0||0||0||30||0.625||9.0||4.00|
|WP lt .500||11||6||.647||1.91||20||20||0||3||2||0||141.0||104||35||30||6||31||2||139||1||0||9||547||0.957||8.9||4.48|
|WP of .500+||5||3||.625||1.71||13||13||0||0||0||0||95.0||60||20||18||5||21||0||93||2||2||3||361||0.853||8.8||4.43|
There’s one team that stands out as trouble for Kershaw this season. Remember, he had an ERA under 2.00 for the entire season. He faced Pittsburgh twice and gave up a single earned run. Yet this team, this team that can’t hit lefties, beat him twice and put up six runs against him. Talk about your flukes of baseball.
Looking at his career splits, he’s under .500 (4-5) in Busch Stadium with a 1.318 WHIP and a 3.75 ERA. Now, some of that is assuredly from when he was early in his career and given that he only would pitch at Busch once a season (usually), a bad game can skew the numbers. However, that proves he can have a bad game as well.
Given their career record against Kershaw, there shouldn’t be a lot of intimidation going on. Respect, sure. This isn’t a walk in the park by any means. However, look at what Matt Holliday and Yadier Molina have done against him. If nothing else, everyone should watch tape of Pete Kozma going 3-3 against him earlier this season to prove he can be hit.
It’s going to likely be another low-scoring affair (though, after that kind of buildup, watch it be 10-9). The Cardinals wanted to make sure they got at least a split in St. Louis before going back to Los Angeles. They’ve achieved that.
Now, let’s get greedy.