For the Los Angeles Dodgers, the first two games of the 2013 National League Championship Series had to be some of the most frustrating baseball that any of them could ever remember.
In both tilts, L.A.'s starting pitchers delivered outstanding performances, as Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw combined to only allow one run, yet the Dodgers still managed to drop the first two games of the series to the Cardinals.
With the series heading back to Los Angeles, the Dodgers are in desperation mode because a 3-0 series deficit would be insurmountable.against a team as experienced in clutch situations as St. Louis.
Heading into Game 3, here's a look at everything you need to know in order to catch all of the NLCS action.
|Game 3||Monday, Oct. 14||8:07 p.m.||TBS||Los Angeles|
|Game 4||Tuesday, Oct. 15||8:07 p.m.||TBS||Los Angeles|
|Game 5*||Wednesday, Oct. 16||4:07 p.m.||TBS||Los Angeles|
|Game 6*||Friday, Oct. 18||8:37 p.m.||TBS||St. Louis|
|Game 7*||Saturday, Oct. 19||8:37 p.m.||TBS||St. Louis|
* = if necessary
Keys to victory for Dodgers
Los Angeles needs more timely offensive contributions from the team's most dangerous weapons because it's killing the Dodgers in clutch situations.
In Game 2, Yasiel Puig and Juan Uribe (two of the 2013 postseason's most effective offensive players) both struck out in the sixth inning with the bases loaded, nullifying a golden opportunity for L.A. to get back in the series.
With both Kershaw and Greinke having already started a game in the series, the Dodgers will need their offense to be a deciding factor in Game 3 because they won't have the luxury of trotting out Cy Young-caliber pitcher until at least Game 4.
The Dodgers really should be heading home with at least one win, but against a veteran-laden team like the Cardinals, they simply can't score two runs combined in two games and expect to win.
In particular, Puig has to get going for the Dodgers because going without a hit in the first two games of the series just isn't good enough for a player of his stature.
Keys to victory for Cardinals
Basically, the Cardinals just need to keep doing what they've been doing, which is playing solid enough defensively to contain the likes of Puig, Uribe, Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez.
That, and get clutch contributions from their own big guns, which is exactly what happened in Game 1 when Carlos Beltran single-handedly lifted St. Louis to victory in dramatic fashion.
Oh, and there's the whole pitching thing.
With sparkling performances from Michael Wacha and Joe Kelly, the Cardinals are in a good position to take a 3-0 lead after having gotten past L.A.'s two aces, especially with Adam Wainwright due to start Game 3.
If the Cardinals can get another victory before Greinke comes back for Game 4, this series will be all but over.
The Cardinals know better than to allow Puig to have a big game and get hot once again, so they'll do everything in their power to take a commanding lead in the series.