Opinion of Kingman's Performance

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Momentum Swinging to Dodgers Side as Cardinals Fail to Close Out Series

The St. Louis Cardinals have a problem.  It’s a bit of a crisis really.  I'd classify it as a crisis of confidence and if Friday goes according to pattern, by then they might be in absolute panic mode.   

For four consecutive games in two consecutive years, they have failed to close out the National League Championship Series and make it to the World Series while on the verge winning the pennant.  Ahead three games to one against the San Francisco Giants last season, the Cardinals couldn’t manage to win one more and advance to the fall classic.  In three opportunities, they failed.  In three opportunities they got schellacked by scores of 5-0, 6-1 and 9-0.  
Joe Kelly started for St. Louis in game 5 today.  He went 5 innings and allowed four runs, taking the loss.  (photo by Richard Mackson/USA Today Sports)

So today, again in a potential close out game and ahead three games to one, the Dodgers jumped ahead of the Cardinals 6-2 (eventually winning 6-4),  and St. Louis must have had that sinking feeling that the pennant might be slipping away from them again.  How could they not?  This puts the Dodgers in a position that they probably weren’t aware of, that being in a superior mental state heading in to the final two games in St. Louis.

The Cardinals have to be aware that they have to beat the best starting pitcher in the game, who will be of the mindset that he’ll be pitching the most important game in his life.  That can’t be a feeling of confidence for them.  They’re 0-4 in these pennant clinching games now, and a loss to Kershaw would make them 0-5.  I don’t know about you, but if I was sitting in their position, my confidence would be quite shaken by the time game seven rolls around.

The Dodgers, decimated by injury after injury, still may find themselves in an advantageous position on Friday.  That is quite amazing to consider as Hanley Ramirez and Andre Ethier are playing at about 20%.  Matt Kemp is out for the season.  That’s over 50% of the thumpers in the lineup, but guys like Adrian Gonzalez, A.J. Ellis, Juan Uribe, Yasiel Puig  and Carl Crawford are picking up the slack.  Even with the absenteeism in the offensive end (caused by injury), the team is within two games of the World Series.

Adrian Gonzalez hit two homers in today's 6-4 Dodger win over the Cardinals in game five of the NLCS.  (Photo by Richard Mackson.USA Today Sports)

Meanwhile, you’ve got a Cardinals team that has not hit well in this series and after Kershaw, they face the prospect of going against a dreaded left hander, and one that has had their number in the two games he has faced them so far.  

So the numbers are stacked against the Dodgers, as historical data shows that teams up 3 to 1 are winners of a seven game series well over 90% of the time, but this deficit may not be as deep as many think.  Baseball is a game of trends and the momentum has shifted towards the Dodgers here.  They need to go into St. Louis in the mindset that they’ll put a few runs up on the board and then they can allow their ace to do his magic.  If they are able to give moderate run support to both their starters, the World Series may be waiting for them.

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