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NLCS Game 2 Preview: Dodgers at St. Louis


National League Championship Series – Game 2
Los Angeles at St. Louis
3:07 ET TBS
Clayton Kershaw (16-9, 1.83) vs. Michael Wacha (4-1, 2.78)

The Dodgers and Cardinals played 13 innings for more than five hours before Carlos Beltran lined a shot to right field that scored pinch-hitter Daniel Descalso from second. Now the teams must turn around for a first pitch of Game 2 just 13 and half hours after the final pitch of Game 1. St. Louis Game 2 starter Michael Wacha followed a near no-hitter in his final start of the regular season by allowing just one hit over 7.1 innings to the Pirates. The lone hit was a long home run by Pedro Alvarez. Clayton Kershaw shut down the Braves in both Game 1 and 4. So we have two outstanding pitchers throwing well facing exhausted lineups. Yep, could be another epic, gut-wrenching affair this afternoon.

Keys for Los Angeles
The Dodgers must put last night behind them and quickly. That’s much easier to do with Kershaw on the hill. But Hanley Ramirez, who was hit in the ribs in the first inning, is likely sore, and the Dodgers can’t afford to lose his bat. Closer Kenley Jansen entered the game in the 13th inning and the first batter he faced in the series lined a walk-off single to right. He must forget that and move on to this afternoon.

Keys for St. Louis
Who will close tonight? Trevor Rosenthal threw 33 pitches Friday night. He topped 30 pitches just four times during the regular season and did not pitch the following night on any of those occasions. But this is the postseason. If he isn’t available, Kevin Siegrist or deposed closer Edward Mujica will be called on for the final outs. Even though the Cardinals beat Kershaw twice this season, they are susceptible to lefthanders.

Dodgers to Watch
None of the Dodgers have seen Wacha, so it may take a time through the order for any of the hitters to be comfortable. So much hinges on Kershaw. The lefthander lost two starts to St. Louis this season, and has a spotty postseason record prior to this season. Kershaw must get deep into this game given how taxed the bullpen was last night. In the two losses to the Cardinals, Kershaw wasn’t bad allowing a .265 average with a 4.15 ERA over 13 innings.

Cardinals to Watch
All eyes better be on Beltran. The man is calm and collected in pressure situations in the postseason. After a win in Game 1, there’s slightly less pressure on Wacha, but the Cardinals don’t want to allow Los Angeles to split the first two games. And, realistically, the Cardinals can’t expect too many runs off of Kershaw, so Wacha needs to be sharp. The youngster has been especially good at home and equally tough on lefty and righty hitters. Mike Matheny handed the 22-year-old the ball for one of the most important games of the season on Monday, and responded by taking a no-hitter into the late innings.

Key Stats
Beltran now has nine RBIs in this postseason, as many as his teammates have combined…In his career, Kershaw in 4-5 with a 3.75 ERA against the Cardinals…In 43 plate appearances vs. Kershaw, Matt Holliday is batting .303 with a .465 on-base percentage…Pete Kozma has three doubles and a single in his five plate appearances against Kershaw…Five Dodger regulars are hitting at a .348 clip or better this postseason (Ramirez, Juan Uribe, Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez and Yasiel Puig)…Six St. Louis relievers — Rosenthal, Seth Maness, John Axford, Siegrist, Randy Choate and Mujica — have logged 12 innings this postseason with a 1.00 WHIP and 0.00 ERA.