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Hollywood Never Takes a Holliday: Dodgers Mount Miracle NLDS Comeback

Bleacher ReportSenior Analyst IOctober 9, 2009

All Ryan Franklin needed was one more strike, and the St. Louis Cardinals would have stolen away home field advantage from the Los Angeles Dodgers.

But the Cardinals never notched that final strike, instead falling victim to a Matt Holliday error that opened the floodgates for a two-out, two-run rally against the Cardinals' closer.

I hate to say I told you so, but I told you so.

Actually, I don’t hate to say it—it feels good to have confidence in your team and then have them back you up on the field.

In my NLDS prediction article on Tuesday, I made one bold prediction, as noted below.

Bold Prediction: For the first time since June 25-26, the Cardinals will lose back-to-back games in which Carpenter and Wainwright start."

That’s right—the series will head to St. Louis with the Dodgers in front 2-0.”

And that’s exactly what those Bums did.

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Never wavering in the face of two Cy Young candidates, the Dodgers fought hard for nine innings on Thursday afternoon en route to an improbable 3-2 win over the Cardinals.

They did it by staying disciplined at the plate, even when coming down to their last out, and then even down to their last strike.

And it really was a two-out rally if there ever was one.

By now, I’m sure you all know what went down: Franklin records two outs, then Holliday boots a flyball, followed by a walk, then a single, then another walk, and finally culminating with Mark Loretta becoming a the newest hero in Dodger lore.  

Loretta was the man of the hour when he muscled an inside fastball into shallow centerfield for the game-winning, walk-off single to send the series back to St. Louis 2-0 in favor of Los Angeles.

Honestly, I thought the Boys in Blue were dead in their tracks after squandering an eighth-inning bases loaded opportunity when Matt Kemp flared out to first base.

I sat and watched the game with my dad, and for most of the middle innings we just remained quiet.

What was there to say?

Kershaw was skirting disaster from time to time, and Wainwright looked downright unhittable. It was just an excellent game, but I really didn’t expect the Dodgers to come back and win.

Andre Ethier provided the only run before the ninth-inning rally, drilling a home run to center field in the fourth inning.

Ethier made a great adjustment to connect on the home run, and his actions were a microcosm of the team’s overall approach to toppling both Wainwright and Carpenter in the first two games of the series.

In his first at-bat, Wainwright struck out Ethier on a fastball. In his second at-bat, Wainwright tried to sneak the same fastball by the slugger—a 93 MPH heater—only this time it caught too much of the plate and sailed over the outfield wall.

This is how the Dodgers hitters approached each game; they took a surgeon-like approach at the plate, knowing that they weren’t going to knock off the big dogs with one swing of the bat.

Instead, they worked the strike zone hard by passing on borderline pitches and waiting for a ball to drive up the middle.

The outstanding performance turned in by 21-year-old Clayton Kershaw is almost forgotten in the midst of the ninth-inning magic.

Kershaw was the 11th youngest pitcher ever to start a playoff game and navigated through six-and-two-third innings with the brass of a veteran, proving to his critics that he can shoulder the burden of a playoff atmosphere.

In addition to the strong performance from the Kershaw, the bullpen was once again lights out. The highlight from the ‘pen was when Joe Torre brought in Jonathan Broxton in the eighth inning to face the heart of the Cardinals lineup.

Torre has used this tactic before, since he can rely on George Sherrill to finish out the ninth, and it worked to perfection as Broxton held the deficit at one in the eighth and Sherrill did his part in the ninth.

But that was all setup by the effort from Kershaw.

The youngster threw 106 pitches, and despite being touched up for nine hits, allowed only two runs and was able to limit the damage by buckling down in key situations.

In the fifth, Kershaw faced another jam, with Julio Lugo at the dish and a runner on second base with one out. Kershaw used three sliders to fan Lugo, and then got Brendan Ryan to end the inning on a curveball in the dirt.

Kershaw gave up a leadoff single to Albert Pujols in the sixth, with Pujols advancing to second base on a wild pitch one out later. Torre showed great confidence in Kershaw by leaving him in the game, and Kershaw rewarded Torre by recording the final two outs and stranding Pujols at second.

After the final out in the sixth, the Cardinals were just 3-for-16 with runners in scoring position during the first two games.

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