The St. Louis Cardinals are the 2013 National League champions.
In shocking fashion, the Cardinals completed an NLCS victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday night by a decisive 9-0 margin. Rookie starting pitcher Michael Wacha was, once again, utterly fantastic in dismantling the Los Angeles lineup, and the best pitcher in baseball, Clayton Kershaw, couldn’t keep up with the rookie.
Wacha tossed 7 shutout innings, allowing only 2 hits and 1 walk while striking out 5 members of the Dodgers’ lineup. With this performance, the 22-year-old right-hander capped a postseason that saw him throw 21 scoreless innings (yes, 21 scoreless innings) and simultaneously become the “next big thing” in pitching circles. His counterpart wasn’t so fortunate, however, as Kershaw ran into a buzzsaw in the 3rd inning.
Playoff hero Carlos Beltran opened the scoring in the 3rd with an RBI single that plated Matt Carpenter, but he also advanced to 2nd base on a throw, and he quickly scored after a base knock from Yadier Molina. Then, David Freese and Matt Adams each reached base to set up Shane Robinson for what would be the game-breaking blow, and Robinson came through with a 2-RBI single that, for good measure, ended in an error by Yasiel Puig.
From there, the flood gates continued to open against LA’s star left-hander, and the Cardinals tacked on 5 more runs in the 5th inning. Crazily, St. Louis was able to score all 9 runs without the benefit of a single home run (and only 3 doubles), and this was simply a case of a slow bleed for the Dodgers’ chances to stay alive in the series.
There will be a lot of chatter about whether Kershaw’s arm was worn out after he notably went on short rest earlier in the playoffs, but I simply don’t buy it. He looked, for the most part, like his normal self early in the game, and as mentioned above, it wasn’t a case where he was absolutely pelted all over the place. Furthermore, it almost wouldn’t have mattered how good Kershaw was, as Wacha appears to be “locked in” in a way that most pitchers never achieve.
With the win, the Cardinals clinched their 4th World Series berth in 10 years, and they certainly earned it against a quality team from Los Angeles. Now, St. Louis will await the winner of what’s been a very entertaining Detroit/Boston series, and they’ll have the opportunity to set their rotation up for Game 1 on Wednesday, October 23rd in the AL ballpark.
Congrats to the Cardinals on their victory, but their work certainly isn’t done just yet.