Cards in World Series with Help from Dumb Bum Decisions
Make no mistake. Rookie righty Michael Wacha was the MVP of the National League Championship Series.
And Carlos Beltrán earned his way into the first World Series of his career as the St Louis Cardinals won their 19th NL title with a 9-0 smashing of the Los Angeles Dodgers to take the set, four games to two.
It was a convincing performance all the way around by the Redbirds. With the exception of John Jay needing a compass in Game 3, St Louis prevailed in all aspects of the game. This was especially evident in managerial moves.
Mike Matheny pushed all the right buttons for the Cardinals. Well before the playoffs, he set up his army of rookies to succeed. Matheny slotted young, flame-throwing relievers into bullpen roles that were ideal for each of them. His young starters were well-steeled for the pressures on a post-season rotation. He kept his bench fresh, as exemplified by Shane Robinson's key contributions -- 2-for-4 with two RBIs -- in the clinching contest.
In contrast, Dodger skipper Don Mattingly added ample evidence to the issues that almost got him fired in June, before Los Angeles got healthy, got Yasiel Puig on his good days, and got on a roll.
Mattingly's consistent choosing of the wrong options throughout this series manifested itself in spades last night. Among them:
- Why was Hanley Ramirez even playing? His fractured rib kept him from diving for ground balls that Nick Punto most likely would have fielded, denying Cardinals singles that were factors in their two big-run innings.
- How many pitches did Clayton Kershaw have to throw in the Cardinals' four-run third inning to confirm he just didn't have it last night? By the time he'd racked up 48 of them, St Louis hitters had long since figured out that his fastball was gone, so they could sit on his secondary pitches. And they certainly did.
- As if the third inning wasn't bad enough, why was Kershaw still in the game during the Cardinals' five-run fifth? Yes, Yasiel Puig's circus act in right field didn't help matters, but he wasn't the one getting squared up by the first three batters in that frame.
Ace or not, Kershaw went into Game 6 with an 0-4 record and a 5.09 ERA against St Louis this season. On top of that, Kershaw wanted to pitch with only three days' rest against Atlanta in the previous series; he'd not done that all season. Mattingly obliged his star hurler without even considering what the routine change might mean down the road. Was it a reason his fastball's velocity dropped so early in Game 6? Well, it's the first time that happened all season.
How many clues did Mattingly need?
And how does Mattingly not treat an elimination game like an elimination game? No sense saving resources for Game 7 if you're not going to get there. The moment Matt Carpenter capped an 11-pitch at-bat in the third by pulling a double down the right field line, it began to become painfully clear that the Dodgers weren't going to get there with Kershaw last night.
Almost as rich as its mind-boggling $239million payroll.