Cardinals @ Dodgers Oct. 3, 2014: NLDS Game 1, Wainwright vs. Kershaw

This is it. After nearly a year of waiting, 162 games, over 750 posts at Dodger Digest, hundreds more at our prior sites, and four off days full of nervous energy, the rematch. The Dodgers and Cardinals, Clayton Kershaw and Adam Wainwright, in a rematch of last year’s NLCS. Does it get better than this?

Other than the pitching matchup, the biggest factor of this game might be the elements. The temperature at game time today will be in the mid to upper 90s, so the ball will be carrying well:

Cardinals
Dodgers
3:37 p.m.
Los Angeles
3B
Carpenter
2B
Gordon
RF
Grichuk
CF
Puig
LF
Holliday
1B
Gonzalez
SS
Peralta
RF
Kemp
C
Molina
SS
Ramirez
1B
Adams
LF
Crawford
2B
Kozma
3B
Uribe
CF
 Jay
C
Ellis
P
Wainwright (R)
P
Kershaw (L)

Hot days at Dodger Stadium are nothing like the cool evenings, so the potential for either starter to give up more runs than usual is definitely there. There is no marine layer on days like today, and that’s why Dodger Stadium is home run neutral when looking at the average of all games at the park. The right fielders in particular will have a tough time for the first few innings due to the peculiar start time, as Jon Weisman visually summarizes here. Both starters are good at limiting home runs (Kershaw a bit more than Wainwright), but today’s the type of day where a few could go out. The temperature could also impact the pitchers as they tire, and Wainwright might have a slight edge in that department since his home games are in St. Louis.

On the other side, of course, are the shadows, which we’ll hear about a million times during the broadcast. I generally think that the shadow effect is real, if overstated, so it might counteract the hot temperatures. We’ll see.

Over the course of this broadcast, you will probably hear Clayton Kershaw’s postseason numbers cited, multiple times. And yes, they’re not great. But they don’t mean anything. Kershaw has pitched 38-1/3 postseason innings. 15-1/3 of those innings were before he turned 22, before Clayton Kershaw was CLAYTON KERSHAW. And yeah, Kershaw blew up against the Cardinals in his fourth start of last year’s postseason. Still, as a whole, Kershaw had a 3.13 ERA after 23 innings pitched in four postseason starts in 2013. After four starts this season, Kershaw’s ERA was 4.43. I think that turned out okay for him.

The last time Clayton Kershaw faced the Cardinals was earlier this year, and recall that he hit Matt Holliday on his back after the Cardinals hit Hanley Ramirez earlier in the game. There’s also the “bad blood” (which is almost entirely in fan’s minds and not on the players) from the Joe Kelly and Hanley Ramirez incident in last year’s game one. Here’s the thing, though: that was a year ago. This series has the potential to be extremely close. Every baserunner matters, so the Dodgers absolutely cannot afford to give them away for free. Also, putting the Dodgers into a situation where the benches are warned would be a significant impediment to Kershaw’s pitching style. Kershaw throws most of his pitches to his glove side, and when a right-handed batter is at the plate, that’s inside. Kershaw needs that inside fastball to generate pop-ups and ground balls, and needs the inside slider at the back foot of right-handed batters to generate whiffs. Purposefully taking that away would be dumb and hurt the Dodgers’ chances of winning this game.

Today’s lineup should look pretty familiar, as it is what they settled in on down the stretch. Yasiel Puig will be so important, and seemed to be getting back to his normal self as the regular season drew to a close. Matt Kemp is in the cleanup spot, rewarded for a season of great hitting. Hanley Ramirez is batting fifth, and his offense has been better than most think. The offense is definitely there, but hopefully Kershaw can go deep into this one and save us bullpen-related heartburn. We’ve all seen how the first two games have gone for the Tigers.

So, let’s have some fun. The comments will be open, and likely going crazy for the occasion of this game. If you want to chat about the game, this is the place to do it. If you’re having trouble loading the comments, we’ll post update threads as the game goes on.

Playoffs!

ThrowsRelieverSat 10/15Sun 10/16Mon 10/17Tue 10/18Wed 10/19Thur 10/20Fri 10/21
LAvilan--OFF-2421OFF
RBaez34-OFF-2727OFF
RBlanton28-OFF13-19OFF
LDayton3-OFF16-12OFF
RFields--OFF-910OFF
RJansen-18OFF21--OFF
RStripling10-OFF-2018OFF
LWood--OFF-32-OFF

About Daniel Brim

Daniel Brim
Daniel Brim grew up in the Los Angeles area but doesn't live there anymore. He still watches the Dodgers and writes about them sometimes.