It started in game one. Kershaw's Dodgers led the Cardinals 6-2 going into the top of the seventh inning. Kershaw had been good, but not great, pitching six strong, allowing two earned runs and striking out eight St. Louis batters. But in the seventh, the Cardinals got to Clayton.
The Cardinals first three hitters -- Matt Holliday, Jhonny Peralta, and Yadier Molina -- loaded the bases by reaching on singles. Matt Adams drew the first blood of the inning, singling home Holliday to make it a 6-3 game. Two batters later, Jon Jay cut the deficit to two, with a run-scoring single to left. Following an Oscar Taveras strikeout, Matt Carpenter unloaded. Carpenter hit a three-run double to right, putting the Cardinals on top 7-6.
Game one ended with a Cardinals 10-9 win, but it really set the tone on what type of series this would be. Clayton Kershaw pitched 6.2 innings, allowed eight earned runs, and struck out ten. The world went crazy. "Was Kershaw tipping pitches?" they asked. "Were the Cardinals stealing signs?" Nope. They just plain out beat him.
The Cardinals got another clutch hit in game three. With the series, and game, tied at one, rookie infielder Kolten Wong hit a two-run home run off of Scott Elbert in the seventh to propel the Cardinals to a 3-1 win. John Lackey was really good for St. Louis and they continued to cruise.
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly announced that, with an elimination possibility in game four, Kershaw would be back on the hill on just three days rest. Three days to give him time to get that bad taste out of his mouth and tie up the series to bring it back to Los Angeles.
For six innings, Mattingly seemed like a genius. Kershaw had a one-hitter going with nine strikeouts and the Dodgers had a 2-0 lead.
Then came the dreaded seventh inning.
With runners on first and second, Cardinals first baseman Matt Adams unloaded. He provided the only run support the Cardinals would need in the game. Adams hit a go-ahead home run on the second pitch he saw -- a curveball -- that went right into the St. Louis bullpen. He gave them a 3-2 lead, one that would remain the final score. Kershaw allowed a total of nine runs in the seventh inning during his two starts.
The Cardinals took the series three games to one and now are taking their postseason magic into the NLCS, where they will face the Giants. The Dodgers just couldn't get the job done. Them and their estimated $238.9 million Opening Day payroll lost to the Cardinals, who pay their players just more than half that amount ($141.7 million).
The Cardinals are good enough to go to the World Series. They proved that in this series. They now will be headed to their ninth NLCS since 2000 and their fourth straight. Congratulations to the St. Louis Cardinals, my only correct Division Series pick, on moving on to the NLCS.