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Saturday, October 10, 2009

Dodgers @ Cardinals NLDS Game 3: Dodgers 5, Cardinals 1

Top 3rd: The St. Louis fans have nothing to root for so far, as the Dodgers get a run in the first on a Manny Ramirez RBI double, and now in the third, Andre Ethier clocks one to deep right field to make it 3-0 Dodgers. Manny doubles, and James Loney reprises his role in Game 2 of Player Who Reaches On Opposition Error (Joel Piñero fails to catch Pujols' lob), but this time he doesn't score, as Piñero ends up getting Casey Blake on a 5-4 groundout.

Bottom 3rd: Vicente Padilla, lone wolf, pitching for his career, gets Albert Pujols to pop out to shortstop Rafael Furcal to end the inning for a clean third. If he's got two more innings in him, Padilla just increased his asking price for next offseason.

Top 4th: With two down and Ronnie Belliard on second, Rafael Furcal whacked one up the left field line to cash him in, making it 4-0 Dodgers. I ... I love you guys.

Ryan Franklin struck out Kemp to end the frame, but the Cards need a grand slam to tie it.

Bottom 4th: Holliday lines out to right, but then, ignoring the TBS broadcasters' comments about how St. Louis batters haven't been hitting Padilla hard, Colby Rasmus belts a one-out double past Casey Blake to put a baserunner in scoring position for the Cards. Yadier Molina bounces out to Blake for the second out, advancing Rasmus to third. Mark DeRosa's line drive finds Padilla's glove for the final out, nabbed as if it were a drink he ordered from the bar back of home plate.

Top 5th: My God, the Cardinals fans are depressed. But they have something to cheer about, briefly, as reliever Dennys Reyes strikes out both Andre Ethier and Manny Ramirez for the first two outs of the frame. James Loney's groundout to short finishes a 1-2-3 inning for St. Louis, the second of the game.

Bottom 5th: After a long eight-pitch battle with pinch-hitter and ex-Dodger Future Of Second Base Joe Thurston, Padilla gets Skip Shumacher to line out for the final out of the fifth. Padilla's eligible for a win now, and has pitched shockingly well for a guy who's making his first professional postseason appearance.

Top 6th: John Smoltz comes in and immediately gives up an infield single to Casey Blake, who sneaks one under the glove of shortstop Brendan Ryan. Smoltz is a little wild and throwing just under the bottom of the strike zone. Belliard strikes out, bringing Russell Martin to the plate — who strikes out swinging to make the inning's second out. Vicente Padilla strikes out to make it a trifecta of struck out batters, with Padilla facing the 2-3-4 batters in the bottom of the frame.

Bottom 6th: Padilla strikes out Albert Pujols looking on an incredible strike three that gets Pujols jawing with the umpire. On the first pitch, Matt Holliday pops out to the catcher, and suddenly the Dodgers are nine outs away from advancing.

Top 7th: After striking out the first two batters for five consecutive, Andre Ethier clocks one over Colby Rasmus' head for a clean triple. Manny whacks a line drive over the hole at short, and it's now 5-0 Dodgers. James Loney adds to the Cards' worries, singling to right, with men on first and second.

After a protracted battle, Smoltz finally gets Casey Blake to fly out to Matt Holliday, who catches it just to prove it can be done.

Bottom 7th: Padilla gets Rasmus to fly out to left — a "room service fly ball" as Vinny says — but then Molina whacks one down the left field line past Casey Blake for a double, but then makes a tragic (for the Cards) mistake on a bouncer to short, attempting to reach third. He's easily erased, and while Mark DeRosa reaches first on the fielder's choice, it's cold comfort to the St. Louis fans, who are watching their offense frozen out on a cold night. Brendan Ryan flies out to Matt Kemp to finish things, and the stillborn rally ends quietly.

Bottom 8th: Padilla's gone, and what a job: a seven-inning, four-hit shutout; George Sherrill's in, and he immediately gets Jason LaRue on a pop up. Unexpectedly, Sherrill walks Julio Lugo. Ludwick hits a ball 373 feet to left to the bullpen gate at 375 feet, and Manny sends it back to the infield without damage. That's it for Sherrill, and Jonathan Broxton enters the game for the last four outs.

Oh, yes, and to face Albert Pujols.

Broxton gives up an RBI single to Phat Albert, and it's 5-1 Dodgers. Holliday flies out to Ethier, and the Dodgers are three outs away from advancing.

Top 9th: Ethier hammers one one off Ryan Franklin the opposite way down the left field line, to DeRosa's bafflement, expecting him to pull, putting a man in scoring position with two out. He's a single away from a cycle.

Manny bounces out to end the frame, but the Cards have a mighty big hill to climb in the bottom of the ninth.

Bottom 9th: Rasmus swings and misses at a third strike to make it one out in the ninth. Two more to go.

Molina bounces one up the third base line, a swinging bunt that amounts to an infield single. He reaches second on the first pitch to DeRosa, who then taps to the box for two out.

Broxton strikes out pinch-hitter Rick Ankiel to finish the game, and they'll see the winner of the Phillies/Rockies NLDS. One "murmur of protest" (thanks, Vinny) of the Cards to vaporize "the eraser" from the Times comment that it would be the Cards in three.


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Did the LA Times really predict that the Cards would sweep? That's atrocious. I'd love to see a link to that article, and I hope the author publicly eats a heaping serving of crow.
I suspected he was referring to the Steve Lopez column in which Lopez offered a World Series Game 4 ticket to the winner of his Manny-slam-fest, but no such prediction appeared there. Maybe it was T.J. Simers, I dunno. I'll do some more digging.
Prediction: Cardinals in three games (Kevin Baxter, LA Times)
Wow! Thanks for the link, SOSG Orel.

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