In 1986, the University of Louisville played Duke for the NCAA basketball championship. The Cardinals had a freshman center named Pervis Ellison, who led his team to victory and earned the moniker “Never Nervous Pervis”. Must be nice to not worry.
I don’t know any Cardinal fan who is not nervous right now.
My Wednesday post tried to point out why this 3-1 series lead is different from 3-1 series lead, then collapses, past. I maintain this year’s situation is different, and that St Louis will find a way to finish the Dodgers off. I’m not playing the games, though; and anyone not attending the game in person has no impact on the final result. Clayton Kershaw and Hyun-jin Ryu are tough, not to mention left-handed. Realistically this series could still go either way. And that makes people anxious. We’re not playing the 2011 Brewers right now.
Ryu has faced the Cardinals once at Busch. He went 7 innings and got the win over Carlos Martinez, in Carlos’ only 2013 start. Kershaw has averaged 6 innings a start in his 6 career appearances in St Louis; he’s 2-3 overall with a 1.351 career WHIP. I need not remind you he was dominating in his Game 2 start. If not for Ellis’ passed ball that game goes extra innings and who knows what happens. There’s no reason to believe he’ll be anything less than dominating tonight. Can we work a few counts against this guy? He left Game 2 because the Dodgers were behind, not because of pitch count. He’d thrown, what – 72 pitches through six that afternoon?
It is very difficult to beat a pitcher 4 times in the same season. Looking just at regular season results, the last time St Louis did it was 2011, when they victimized JA Happ. Since the turn of the century they’ve beaten one pitcher 4x in the same season five times: Happ; Doug Davis, 2005; Ryan Vogelsong, 2004; Matt Kinney, 2003; Todd Ritchie, 2001. None of those guys had the stature of Clayton Kershaw. Or the stuff. The odds are against them besting the prospective Cy Young Award winner for 2013 yet again.
And yet, they really need to win tonight. Not because I don’t think Adam Wainwright can close the deal tomorrow; I just don’t want to bring chance into this. St Louis survived the Wild Card game last year thanks in large part to a ridiculously bad infield fly call by the left field umpire. That’s what I mean by chance.
Ideally the Cardinals strike first, get a lead, and make it stand up. And yes – no matter how brilliant Michael Wacha is this evening, this game will be won or lost by the offense. I’ll settle for keeping the game tied until Kershaw is out, then beating the Dodger bullpen, in lieu of that lead. St Louis must move heaven and earth to keep Los Angeles from getting ahead at any point during the game. It would be interesting to find out if Jansen continues to pitch the ninth, or if Mattingly uses Brian Wilson’s Beard a little more extensively, should LA have a late lead. Frankly I don’t want to know the answer.
Nervous time indeed. Can we just start tonight’s game already?
See you on Twitter tonight. Maybe.