The ticket has been punched. The St. Louis Cardinals will be headed to the 2013 World Series, after defeating the Dodgers last night 9-0. They take the series in six games. The Cardinals advance to the series for the fourth time since 2004, where they have gone 2-1 in their previous three match-ups. This is the twenty-third pennant in Cardinals history, as they have taken eleven World Series of their last twenty two pennants.
What looked to be a pitchers duel between Clayton Kerhsaw and Michael Wacha proved incorrect. Kershaw was ratted early and often, exiting after four plus innings while allowing seven earned runs. Tonight was just not his night. He didn't pitch terribly either; he was just unable to get the calls on the corner of the zone and unable to work around the Cardinals clutch hitting lineup. Sometimes pitchers have days like that, but it's still hard to believe that Kershaw did in a elimination game. It goes to show that it is very hard to be perfect. He has a career 4.91 ERA in five NLCS games (two starts).
Michael Wacha pitched up to expectations, keeping the Dodger hitters off balance all night. He pitched seven two-hit innings, while allowing zero runs, and striking out five. He pitched thirteen and two thirds innings over this series, while allowing only seven hits and no runs. In his twenty-one innings in the postseason, Wacha has a minuscule 0.43 ERA in this postseason, as he looks to continue his dominance in the World Series. His fantastic pitching secured him the National League Championship Series MVP.
The Dodgers were only able to tally two hits off of Cardinals pitchers in game six, but were able to muster forty-two hits in the entire series (seven hits per game), giving them plenty of opportunities to win this series. When you back yourself up against a wall, it's very hard to comeback, as we saw the Dodgers get down in a 2-0 hole early, and then try and frantically come out of the whole. Imagine how much this series would've changed had the Dodgers won game one? Then there would be a game seven, and there would be extra life in this club. That's how the Cardinals won; they felt a sense of urgency in every game they played.
The Cardinals showed plenty of offensive life at Busch yesterday, supplying Wacha with nine runs and thirteen hits. All of their runs scored before the fifth inning, giving the Cardinals pitching staff plenty of breathing room when it was needed. Carlos Beltran, in particular, continued to be clutch, tallying three hits in four chances, and driving in two runs in with two RBI singles. If Wacha didn't pitch as well as he did, I think Beltran easily could've won MVP of this series. He played just some really good baseball in this series.
The Dodgers get to go home. The Cardinals get to watch the ALCS. Then they get to play the winner of Detroit/Boston for the World Series Championship; a chance to write yourself in the history books of baseball. They have played great baseball this entire year, and now they are being rewarded for it. With the opportunity to play in baseball's biggest stage, the World Series Championship.