The Dodgers surprised me last night. Hyun-jin Ryu was terrific, but that really should not be a surprise. He pitched well at home all season and the Cardinals simply do not hit lefties well and have not all season. And I was surprised that Hanley Ramirez played and played well. The biggest surprise was that someone (Mattingly?) got through to Yasiel Puig to get him to settle down at the plate. All of his at bats were good ones, even when he struck out. He was much more under control and that aided the Dodgers' cause.
I was also surprised by the Cardinals. Adam Wainwright pitched a very good game and deserved a better bottom line if not for the sloppy defense displayed by the Cardinals. They did not get errors in the game for their misplays, but they were misplays just the same. John Jay comes under the most scrutiny as he was bloody awful in center field. Is Shane Robinson that much worse of a hitter? Why not give him a start out there? Granted, center field might not be Robinson's best position, but neither is it Jay's.
There are two big games today. Due to the pitching match-ups, they will be very interesting too.
- The Tigers over the Red Sox: I am not convinced about either pitcher in this game. Yes, Justin Verlander is pitching. And yes, you could say, "But William, haven't you seen the way he has pitched this post season?" And that would be a great point. But the Red Sox have a better approach at the plate than most teams and Verlander did not beat them during the season. In his one game against them, he gave up four runs in seven innings. Not bad. Not great. John Lackey has been much worse on the road than he was at home. His ERA is a little more than two runs higher on the road than at home and he gave up 18 road homers as compared to only 8 at home. And yet, in two starts against the Tigers, he was pretty decent this season. I will give the nod to the Tigers at home with Verlander over Lackey, whose road splits seem more of a warning flag than Verlander's 3-4 lifetime record against the Red Sox.
- The Cardinals over the Dodgers: When I think of the two pitchers, Lance Lynn and Ricky Nolasco, they seem to balance each other out. Neither has had a season to write home about, especially in late stretches. Lynn has stopped having that one bad inning and instead is giving up a lot of runs spread out over several innings. Nolasco had the devil's ERA in September at 6.66. But he only gave up one homer. So maybe it was a BABIP thing where everything fell for a hit against him. But Nolasco beat the Cardinals twice during the season and had an impressive ERA at Dodgers Stadium. So maybe I am heading the wrong direction here. But then again, Lynn pitched once against the Dodgers in their stadium and was untouchable. So who knows. My gut tells me that the Cardinals will break out against a right-handed pitcher and the big boy at first base will be part of the action. And Lynn has post season experience.
Post season: 16-10