Facing each other in postseason action for the third time in nine years, Game 1 of the National League Championship Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals got off to a relatively slow start.
Both offenses looked somewhat sluggish for the first few innings, that is until the Dodgers started a mini-rally come the third inning.
After Carl Crawford doubled to leadoff the inning, Mark Ellis moved Crawford to third, putting him in prime scoring position. St. Louis starter Joe Kelly seemingly lost his command after that, walking the next two batters which loaded the bases for Dodgers phenom, Yasiel Puig. The rookie, looking a bit overanxious promptly grounded into a fielder’s choice allowing St. Louis to throw out Crawford at home, keeping the score tied at 0-0. That didn’t last for long though as just moments later, Juan Uribe who has seemingly become the Dodgers’ main offensive weapon smacked a two-run, RBI single up the middle giving Los Angeles a 2-0 lead.
Not to be outdone, the Cardinals stormed back the following half inning with a two-out comeback. After the first two batters of the inning were sat down on strikes, Cardinals starting pitcher Joe Kelly singled to left which was followed by a Matt Carpenter walk. Then, Carlos Beltran, who has become one of the most clutch postseason hitters of all-time drilled a towering fly-ball to deep center field which smacked off the wall and outfielder Andre Ethier, scoring both runs and tying the game at 2-2.
The Dodgers, thanks to a poor route from Cardinals outfielder Jon Jay, were able to get infielder Mark Ellis to third base on a double plus an error with just one out in the inning. St. Louis, not wanting any part of the hot Hanley Ramirez, opted to intentionally walk the Dodgers’ shortstop before Michael Young stepped to the plate, who was put in the game late as part of a double switch for Adrian Gonzalez. Young hit a high fly ball to somewhat shallow right field where Cardinals right fielder Carlos Beltran secured the second out of the inning, then promptly rocketed a seed to home plate where he threw out the tagging Ellis by a good ten feet, keeping the score locked at 2-2.
The score remained tied until the bottom of the thirteenth inning where St. Louis, after Pete Kozma lined out to second, was able to get their next two batters on base thanks to a Daniel Descalso single followed by a Matt Carpenter walk. After a Dodgers pitching change (Kenley Jansen), Carlos Beltran who saved the game earlier with his outfield assist (not to mention his earlier two-RBI double) smacked a line drive down the right field line, scoring the game-winning run, giving the Cardinals a 1-0 series lead.
It’s a tough blow for the Dodgers, who with a win could have not only taken home field advantage, but would have done so with ace Clayton Kershaw on the mound for Game 2. Now they’re best hope is to return to California with a series split, while St. Louis will look to take a commanding 2-0 series lead on Saturday evening.