Game Three in St. Louis – Really Big for Dodgers

Tied one-one with St. Louis, thanks to strong pitching and Matt Kemp eighth-inning home run in Saturday’s game, the Dodgers return to Busch Stadium this evening, where memories of last year’s zero-of-three performance at the hands of the Cardinals will likely linger in the minds of everyone in Dodgers’ blue. The Dodgers opened the 2013 Championship series in St. Louis by losing a 13-inning game, 3-2, followed by a 1-0 shutout at the hands of the Cardinals and Michael Wacha. After winning game three and two of the three in Los Angeles, they then returned to Busch, only to be shut out once more, again by Wacha.

The game three win last year was due in large part to seven shutout innings from Hyun-Jin Ryu, who returns to action tonight after missing the last three weeks with shoulder soreness. Ryu says he's fine, but Dan Haren, penciled in as the game four starter, is said to be prepared to step in in long relief tonight, should Ryu have any early problems. Should this happen, then what about game four? It would seem that the empty uniform non-manager don mattingly would have little choice but to one again bring
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Clayton Kershaw back on short rest. With the history of how bad that worked out last season and with Kershaw coming off what is most likely the worst performance of his career, that does not bode well. But, with no other experienced started on the post-season roster, choices for game four would seem to be limited to Kershaw, Carlos Frias, or possibly Jamie Wright.

In September, when injuries to starters really too their toll and fill-in were being plucked from the dregs of other teams expendable lists, the Dodgers were 10-0 in games started by

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Kershaw or Zack Greinke, and 7-8 when anyone else, including Haren, was the starter.

St. Louis has John Lackey starting tonight, and he is the epitome' of a big-game pitcher. As a rookie with the Angels in 2002, he led the team's staff through the second half of the season and into the playoffs, where he went 2-0 and pitched a
masterful five innings, allowing a single run in the 4-1 game seven World Series victory over the Giants. After moving to the Red Sox a few years later, he had some ups and downs due to injuries, but came back strong late last season, and was 3-1 in five post-season starts, helping lead Boston to the title, again pitching and winning the final game clincher. If Lackey gets as far as the fifth inning today, he will become the leader in post-season innings pitched among active major league pitchers.

Following his excellent rookie season and masterful post season performance (4-1, 2.64 ERA, 0.91 WHIP) last year, Wacha missed much of 2014 with injuries, and while he is on the Cardinals post season roster, he is not scheduled to start any games, at least in the Championship series.

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