Dodger lineup

Dodgers Watch Giants Win ANOTHER Pennant and it wasn’t Luck

 

I blame News Corp. I blame Kevin Malone. I blame Rupert Murdoch. I blame Frank McCourt. I blame Jamie McCourt. I blame Jamie’s hair-dresser. I blame her limo driver. Hell, I blame anyone and everyone.

For the third time in five years the San Francisco Giants have won the National League pennant. And, for the third time in five years I find it easy to blame the Dodgers for not being good enough to stop them. All I have wanted for the last few years is for the Dodgers to re-establish order with their rival. Winning the division for the second straight year was a nice first step, but in the grand scheme it doesn’t really mean anything. You need to perform in October, something the Dodgers can’t do right now. The Giants perform in October. They have done it with a core group of hard-nosed stars and sprinkling of role players that relish being part of an organization that wins and has fun doing it.

Many people pointed to Giants luck or fortuitous bounces as the reason for the Giants success again in October. Stop it.  That would be short-changing a team that truly is a team. The Giants are winning because of a disciplined front office approach to building their organization.  They haven’t deviated from that approach. Brian Sabean runs it, and Bruce Bochy runs with it. Bochy is the master technician. His gruff presentation belies a baseball genius who takes advantage of situations with match-ups and pushes the right buttons because he knows what his guys can and can not do. Bochy should be the envy of every major league team. This may sound like a knock on the Giants, but it’s not. Bochy and his staff gets more out of that ball-club than any other manager in the game today and he has been doing it for a long time.

If this doesn’t hurt the Dodgers organization and their fans then they aren’t worth being called, Dodgers. When you see your less talented rival continually win pennants, while you languish on the sidelines and come up short in the biggest October moments then you aren’t doing things right. I heard many people say the Dodgers were probably the only team that could have beaten the Giants this October. Stop it AGAIN. There is no way THIS Dodgers team with THIS Dodgers bullpen was going to beat the Giants. Bochy would have made sure of that. The Giants have toughness coursing through their veins, “Champions Blood” as Hunter Pence likes to say,  while the Dodgers melt when they are faced with the biggest moments. This isn’t opinion, it is fact. Until the Dodgers, as a group,  rise to the occasion in October, they will be considered “soft.”

Despite the malfeasance of the Frank McCourt ownership, the Dodgers did manage to advance to National League Championship Series in 2008 and 2009 losing both times to the Philadelphia Phillies in five games. They lost primarily because their best players lacked the stones to come up big when it counted and of course a deficient bullpen headlined by Jonathan Broxton. Fast forward to 2013 where once again the Dodgers pushed on to the NLCS where they were once again beaten by a “tougher” Cardinals team that rose to the occasion when it counted. This year was a complete debacle. The Cardinals knocked off the Dodgers in the division series in four games. The Dodgers won 94 regular season games but were thin on the mound, had no bullpen and had a sub-par defensive team. The Giants would have beaten the Dodgers in 5 or 6 games in this NLCS. Not because they are more talented than the Dodgers, they win because they are tougher.

What does tougher mean in baseball terms ? Tougher means refusing to lose. Refusing to strike out with a runner at third and less than two outs. Being mentally aware of all situations, including getting good secondary leads, so you can take an extra base on a ball in the dirt. Knowing what base to throw to when the ball is hit to you. Knowing you need to hit the cut-off man. Toughness is hitting a ball to second base to move a runner to third with less than two outs because even when it hurts your batting average it will still help the team get a run. Toughness is putting team over self. Toughness is forsaking personal glory for the good of the group. The Giants organization and their insanely annoying fans preach this all the time. “The Dodgers don’t win because they have too many “I” guys.” Reluctantly I have to agree. The self-centeredness on the Dodgers is evident and does not lead to winning. Late in the season Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig almost came to blows over Puig’s selfishness in the dugout.  Kemp was tired of watching Puig pout and take his hitting woes to the field. After the game Kemp posted a picture of celebrating Dodgers minus Puig. There was a quote from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar extolling the virtues of self-sacrifice for team. The point was clear. “Puig, this isn’t about you. It’s about us.”

The taste is bitter and sour for us Dodgers fans. If the taste isn’t bitter then I have to seriously question your Dodger allegiance.  Seeing the Dodgers rival continue to win pennants stings. It is a pain that the Dodger fan base must live with during what will be a cold cold winter. Grasping a division title holds little solace when your rival is winning pennants and playing in World Series. That is now FOUR pennants for the Giants since 2002. The Dodgers haven’t won a pennant since the magical run in 1988. The Giants could win their 3rd World Series title in the last five years. Embarrassing I say, embarrassing.

I am happy the Guggenheim Group has high aspirations and World Championship goals. That is what you should try to do when you have resources at your disposal and a competitive fire burning in your belly. I also understand that it doesn’t happen overnight. When you are as low and down-trodden as the Dodgers were under McCourt, the culture and mode of operation will not change quickly, regardless of how much money you pump into the organization.

With that said, until the Dodgers get as tough or tougher than their rivals to the north, they will always be second fiddle. The Dodgers should learn from San Francisco, they should try an emulate the culture surrounding an organization that relies on the gathering of a few stars and spare parts that all pull in the same direction and compete and play for one common goal…..each other. Until the Dodgers do that, we will be forced to watch our hated rivals celebrate pennants and championships while we talk about what went wrong in another October year after year after year.

From Mark Walter to Stan Kasten to Andrew Friedman to Don Mattingly to Clayton Kershaw; If you aren’t disgusted, then you aren’t paying attention.  Now, Lets Go Royals !

High School Football Preview Show 10-17

 

 

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We preview the RIVER BOWL between Shasta and Enterprise and look at this week’s big match-ups  !

TJ HOLMES-Redding Record Searchlight @tjholmes_RS

JEFF LARSON-Paradise Post @jtlarson

LEE CARRELL-Action News 12 & 24 @CarrellLee

MIKE BACA-KPAY Sports Director @BitOBaca @KpayBacaSports

 

Dodger lineup

Dodgers tab Friedman; Colletti’s time was due

 

The Los Angeles Dodgers will try to spin the Andrew Friedman acquisition as simply adding to the sum of its parts and that Ned Colletti still holds a significant role within the Dodgers hierarchy. Don’t believe it. Despite the platitudes and the pats-on-the-back for ole’ Ned this is a demotion. The Dodgers are shifting gears and moving on. As so many of their Hollywood brethren the Dodgers are chasing a younger and more buxom asset. He is 37 year-old Andrew Friedman and they hope he takes them to the Promised Land.

I don’t think Ned Colletti did a terrible job in running the Dodgers. Yeah, I said it. Ned had to work under one of the most horrific owners in Los Angeles sports history in Frank McCourt. With help from the amazing Dan Evans the Dodgers were able to draft and develop some young talent that had them riding into the NLCS in 2008 and 2009. I thought Ned did an admirable job navigating the Dodgers through these treacherous waters under McCourt. With a 90-to-95 million dollar payroll he made the Dodgers competitive. Detractors will say he didn’t develop the farm system but remember his hands were tied since Frank and his old lady, Jamie were too busy buying mansions and getting their hair done. The farm system was decimated under McCourt; and Colletti was left to just watch the burning carcass.  He couldn’t spend money on domestic scouts, on international scouts and the Dodgers were a hollow organization. Bright, glitzy and colorful on the outside and lacking depth and soul on the inside.

Enter Guggenheim…….

That all changed when Mark Walter and his Guggenheim partners bought the Dodgers in 2012. The Dodgers brought in Stan Kasten and immediately gave Ned Colletti the reigns to pull off one of the most significant trades in Dodgers history. The Dodgers added nearly 250 million dollars in salary with four players and signaled to the baseball world they would be significant.

When the Dodgers added Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Nick Punto, along with trading for Hanley Ramirez, many felt the Dodgers were primed and ready for a deep post-season run. But, what many of these prognosticators and analysts failed to see is that the Dodgers were still and empty shell. You can’t just throw dollars at a problem and expect it to change. Changing the way you do business, changing the culture takes time, and that is what the Dodgers are going through right now.

The Dodgers had a great run last year and Colletti felt he was just a piece or two away from getting the Dodgers back to the Fall Classic. This is why Colletti is losing his job. While it appears from the surface that the Dodgers are close, they still have a lot of work to do from both a baseball and organizational sense. The Dodgers ARE NOT a few pieces away. I believe they need a major re-structuring. It’s a task that Colletti can not oversee. He had been there too long, had become too entrenched. It’s not an upheaval, it’s not just a simple tweak. The Dodgers need a revitalizing cleansing that takes them back to the days of the doing things the Dodgers way.

You remember the Dodgers way don’t you ?  Deep starting and relief pitching, stellar defense, smart base-running, and the ability to steal bases and hit and run. There is no rule that says big market teams can’t play like scrappy also-rans. Sure, I dig the long ball just as much as the next guy. But the Dodgers will not win anything until they get deeper in their starting rotation, have a lock-down bullpen and stop kicking the ball away every few games. The Dodgers defense was dreadful. Their base-running was less-than-average. I am not talking about stolen bases here. This is about taking a good aggressive secondary lead, taking the extra base with the ball in the dirt. Knowing when its a good time to take an extra base, and when it’s not such a good idea.

Under Colletti the Dodgers were deficient in the vital yesteryear keys to winning. The Dodgers had three pitchers in their rotation they could depend on. It might be a good idea to have 4-or-5.  He spent 30 million dollars on a bullpen that only had two reliable arms. The parent club has players that continually make the same mistakes over and over, especially defensively and on the base-paths. Despite SOME of the constraints, this was the team that Colletti  built. An incomplete assemblage of the players that had flash and glitz. The Dodgers were that shiny new car with all the bells and whistles, but then you turn on the engine, there is a Pinto under the hood. All  style, no substance.

For the Dodgers to regain baseball prominence as an annual contender for not just division titles but pennants and World Series Championships, they must do some work under the hood, and that means continuing their investment in the minor league system. Over the last two years the Dodgers have done an amazing job making their system relevant. But, they need to take that next step where they become the best organization at drafting and developing in baseball.  Once you strengthen your minor league system with prospects galore, then you can make trade dead-line deals that will help your parent club. The Dodgers have prime prospects,  but were not operating from a position of power at this years’ deadline and couldn’t make a significant trade for bullpen or rotation help. To be fair to Colletti, every time he inquired about an Andrew Miller or other coveted arms, other organizations would ask for the only prospects the Dodgers had in their system. Colletti was stuck, while trying to improve the club for this year, Colletti did not want to dis-mantle what the Dodgers system for the quick-fix. For that I do applaud him. I wouldn’t have traded Joc Pederson, Corey Seager or Julio Urias for David Price. When the Dodgers farm gets deeper, they will be  able to make deals with players in the system by mixing and matching, while not depleting their reserves on the farm. For Colletti, he was gun shy to make a deal, and I have to believe it was a directive from Stan Kasten,  “don’t trade prospects under any circumstance.”

In closing, Ned Colletti  was not a bad General Manager. But, his time has come and it was time for the Dodgers to move on. They hand the keys to the car to Andrew Friedman. A kid/man who made the Tampa Rays relevant on 20 cents on the dollar. Well kid, you now have the whole dollar. Lets see what you can do.

Warriors have to PAY KLAY…

I am a bit confused why the Golden State Warriors are haggling over a few million dollars a year in negotiations with shooting guard Klay Thompson.

The Warriors were in hot pursuit of Kevin Love and were close to a deal but when the Minnesota Timberwolves requested Klay Thompson to be part of the trade the Warriors balked.  There appeared to be a split among the Warriors brass with ownership wanting to make the trade. New head coach Steve Kerr and the venerable LOGO himself Jerry West were against the trade. For six weeks there were rumblings, but with Minnesota refusing to budge from their Klay desires the deal fell through.

Fast forward to the present and the Warriors and Thompson’s representatives are haggling over contract terms. Broadcast reports indicate both sides are roughly 2-to-3 million dollars a year apart. Thompson’s representatives are asking for 15 million dollars a year in multi-year deal, while the Warriors are in the 12-to-13 million a year neighborhood.

Both sides are saying the right things and I don’t think its going to be a distraction for the sharp-shooting guard. Klay says he wants to stay. The Warriors say Klay is part of their future and his teammates say he is vital to their success.

From my seat the Warriors have no leverage. They had a chance at Kevin Love but deemed the deal too costly and now will have to pay Thompson. So, why are they spinning their wheels and dragging this out when eventually they will meet his asking price, or close to it and get the deal done.

Warriors fans should  be thankful we have an owner who cares as much as Joe Lacob, but he does have that meddle-some Jerry Jones quality that can be un-nerving. This has Lacob written all over it.

Hey Joe, you have shown your cards. You are not going to let Klay walk. Listen to the LOGO and your new head coach. Pay Klay and let’s move on.

 

 

Dodger lineup

A Dodgers Post-Mortem: The Real Reason St. Louis Beat the Dodgers

 

The Cardinals can deny they were doing it, and the Dodgers can deny it was being done. But when you look deep inside the Dodgers four game loss to the St. Louis, the Boys in Blue were beaten by their stubbornness.

The Cardinals were the worst home run hitting team in the majors this season. They hit a total of 99 round-trippers on the year. So, how would you explain the Cardinals hitting 7 home runs in four games against one of the elite pitching staffs in baseball ?

Left-handed Red Birds batters hit five home runs. All five of those home runs were hit off of left-handed pitchers, not an easy task, four of those home runs came with a runner at second base, including Matt Adams’ crowning three-run blast against Clayton Kershaw on Tuesday afternoon.

After the series both the Cardinals and Dodgers refused to say sign-stealing was taking place. Cardinals hitters sheepishly said they were “lucky” to get some good pitches to hit and put “good swings” on some pitches that were in bad spots. All true. For their part the Dodgers denied their signs were being picked, but there are rumblings that the Dodgers were not mixing up their signs ENOUGH while Cardinal base-runners danced off of second base.  I don’t care what both sides say, the evidence is over-whelming.

THE DODGERS WERE HAVING THEIR SIGNS STOLEN AND DIDN’T DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT.

The numbers and the circumstances don’t make any sense. And, let me be clear. I have no problem with what I am alleging the Cardinals did. Sign-stealing is part of the game. If you aren’t trying to get that edge on your opponent then you aren’t doing enough to try and win. I love teams that do it. The college team I have covered for nearly two decades have becomes experts at the art. The pilfering of signs has been part of baseball since this grand ole game became America’s past-time. In Joshua Prager’s book “The Echoing Green” he details how the 1951 New York Giants used a sophisticated set of signals to read signs from opposing managers and catchers and relay what was coming to the hitters while they stood in the batter’s box. Many of those 51′ Giants say they don’t make up 13.5 games on the Dodgers in six weeks if not for the binoculars and signals they employed in August and September of 51′.

Clayton Kershaw was virtually automatic against left-handed hitters this season. Not to denigrate the Cardinals hitters, but they aren’t exactly the Tony Gwynn’s and Stan Musial’s of the world. But, with runners on base and while Kershaw was in the stretch the Cardinals became Ted Williams re-incarnated. Watch their at-bats. They are on everything. They not only didn’t get fooled on his assortment of pitches, they were ON every pitch. So, you have a pitcher who is having one of the greatest seasons in the history of the game, but suddenly when runners get on base he can’t get anyone out and the hitters are completely dialed in ? With someone as good as Kershaw that isn’t possible.

The Cardinals were 7-for-13 against Kershaw when he was pitching out of the stretch. And, they were an amazing 5-fo-8 with runners at second base including a home run and a triple. I don’t care what the Cardinals and Dodgers are trying to sell. My eyes didn’t lie to me. Kershaw got beat with his fast-ball, slider and curve. The Cardinals had his pitches. Why the Dodgers couldn’t figure this out for the second year in a row, is beyond me………

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High School Football Preview Show 10-10

 

HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL PREVIEW SHOW

10-10-14

BobcatFootball

 

LEE CARRELL- Action News 12 & 24 @CarrellLee

JOSEPH SHUFELBERGER- ChicoER @JShufelberger

TJ HOLMES- Redding Record Searchlight @tjholmes_RS

RICK SILVA- Paradise Post @Post_RickSilva

MIKE BACA- KPAY Radio Sports Director @BitOBaca @KpayBacaSports

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Season and Legacy on line for Dodgers and Kershaw in Game 4

 

We all knew this could happen. Those of us that follow this team day in and day out knew that the bullpen implosion could happen on the grandest of scales and on the grandest of stages.

IT HAS.

In the first three games of the National League Divisional Series against the St. Louis Cardinals the Dodgers bullpen has spit the bit down the home-stretch. They have thrown their jockey. They have pulled up lame and now they need their own Spectacular Bid to come to the rescue.

Happy scenes like this from Hanley Ramirez and Matt Kemp have been few  and far-between

Clayton Kershaw has the Dodgers season and his own personal legacy on the line this afternoon. In short, it’s time for him to perform. A lot of players can shine from April-thru-September, not everyone can shine in October. Kershaw has yet to show his post-season mettle. He can’t afford to wait much longer.

The theories as to why Kershaw is struggling against the St. Louis Cardinals in October are many. Some of them make sense and some are completely outlandish. I will say this, the Cardinals are EXTREMELY confident against Kershaw out of the stretch. Whether his ball flattens out, hangs or is not as sharp will never be divulged by Cardinal hitters. Neither will they divulge how they are relaying pitch and location to the hitters, but those of us that have been around the game, know simple the transmission of this information can be.  After St. Louis’ Game 3 win the platitudes about Kershaw were rolling like an old school projector. “Best in the game, real tough, got our hands full.” Blah blah blah…….

The Cardinals are secretly thrilled they get to face Kershaw again. They know that if they get him out of the stretch, they will know what’s coming and they not only feel, but they BELIEVE they will rough him up. Belief is powerful. When you believe you are going to do something, its pretty tough to stop. The Cardinals are a franchise that is known to be experts at picking pitches from pitchers out of the stretch and relaying this information to hitters. I have it good authority that it is happening again. The shame is not that the Cardinals are engaging in this espionage, the shame is that the Dodgers seem ambivalent to the fact that it is happening !!!!

Yes, you heard me right. The Dodgers know this is happening and are not doing anything about it. How does this happen ? How do you not change pitch sequence, indicators ? To me it is unfathomable to think the Dodgers don’t know this is happening. The Cardinals are 7-for-21 with runners at second base. Six of those hits have come in the decisive 7th innings of Games 1 and  3. I see a trend here, why don’t the Dodgers ?

Last night Don Mattingly said Kershaw would be good for 90 pitches, well, he better be able to throw a few more considering how well the Cardinals work counts and grind out at-bats. In Kershaw’s last three starts against the Cardinals in the post-season he is 0-3 with an earned run average near 8. For Kershaw’s own personal legacy he needs this game like no other. He is in danger of becoming that player where you go, “he is great, BUT.” You don’t want to be that guy. That guy is always saddled with baggage and Kershaw doesn’t want to lug that around for another off-season.

For Kershaw he needs to somehow solve Matt Carpenter. Three games, three home runs, all on fast balls out over the plate. The pitch selection to the sizzling hot Carpenter is stunning. It’s as if the stubbornness of the Dodgers brain-trust refuses to believe how hot Carpenter is, and he is proving to be a one man wrecking crew against the Boys in Blue. The Cardinals have hit an amazing six home runs in three games against Dodgers pitching, four of those home runs have been hit by left-handed hitters against left-handed pitchers.

The Dodgers season is on the line today. Clayton Kershaw has the ball. Normally this would bring a sense of confidence and calm, instead I have no idea what to expect and that scares the hell out of me.

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Reason for optimism as Dodgers head to St. Louis for Game 3

 

It took Matt Kemp’s heroics to save the Dodgers bullpen from an ignominious defeat, and now the Boys in Blue head to St. Louis with winning on their minds.

Make no mistake about it, the Kemp home run saved the Dodgers hyde. They don’t blow two home games against the Cardinals and rescue this series. The bison emerged and now the Dodgers look to find their traction in St. Louis. The Game 3 pitching match-up looks like a good one. Hyun-Jin Ryu takes the ball for the Dodgers after nursing a sore shoulder for the past three weeks. He is the Dodgers best option even though he may not be 100 percent. He takes on seasoned veteran John Lackey, who was a mid-season acquisition from the Boston Red Sox.

I see more question marks than certainties as we approach Game 3. For Ryu its his health. When he is on, he has an assortment of pitches that keep hitters off-balance. He doesn’t overpower, but knows how to pitch to hitters weaknesses. He misses barrels and the Dodgers need him to miss a few on Monday night. Lackey is a big game pitcher, having beaten the San Francisco Giants as a rookie in Game 7 of the 2002 World Series. He was the ace of the Angels staff for several seasons before signing a lucrative contract with the Red Sox and helping them win a World Series last year. Lackey is the Cardinals version of Josh Beckett in terms of mentality. He is what I like to call a red-ass. I mean this in the most complementary of ways.

Lackey can be cantankerous, grumpy and angry on the mound and it seems to serve him well. When he goes on tilt (poker term) he can be his own worst enemy and we have seen a lot of that over the last five years. I don’t expect Lackey to give in, which means Ryu needs to be dialed in.

The reason the Dodgers should have some optimism is their 49-32 road record this year. They were considerably better on the road then at home this season. The 49 wins was the best in major league baseball and that is why I think the Dodgers have a real good shot at making some noise in St. Louis. The loss in Game 1 could have ruined a weaker team, but the Dodgers rode Zack Greinke’s great outing, Adrian Gonzalez’s leadership and Matt Kemp’s tie-breaking home run to even the NLDS at a game apiece.

The Dodgers should also be happy that they most likely will have Clayton Kershaw ready to go on three days rest in Game 4. Nothing officially has been said, but if the Dodgers were going to pitch Kershaw on three days rest UP 2-games-to-1 last year against Atlanta, it stands to reason they would pitch him either up or down 2-to-1 on Tuesday.

As much as the Dodgers need Kershaw to take the mound in this series, I believe he needs it for his psyche just as much. His aire of invincibility has been dented by the St. Louis Cardinals beat-downs in the last two post-seasons. His disastrous 4 inning 10 hit 7 earned run outing in last years NLCS is merely a footnote to his colossal collapse on Friday night. Whether he missed his spots or the Cardinals deciphered the pitch sequence and sat on pitches doesn’t really matter. Kershaw and the Dodgers need to fix it. I am stunned that the Dodgers didn’t rectify an issue that the Cardinals were able to exploit last year. I think the Dodgers and Kershaw fix the problem and he pitches well in Game 4 against Shelby Miller.

This promises to be an exciting few days as the Dodgers try to exorcise the Cardinal-demon and set up a likely NLCS for the ages against their bitter rivals, the  San Francisco Giants.

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Kershaw’s Kryptonite Dooms the Boys in Blue

 

It was nearly unanimous. The Dodgers had to win game one of the National League Divisional Playoff against the St. Louis Cardinals. With Clayton Kershaw on the mound it was imperative the Boys in Blue put the game in the win column and hand the ball to Zack Greinke for Game 2 tomorrow.

It didn’t happen.

In one of the most stunning games in Dodgers history Clayton Kershaw experienced an epic 7th inning meltdown as the Cardinals scored 8 runs in an insane inning that resulted in a 10-9 Cardinals win. There are games that are tough to swallow, tough to fathom and tough to understand, and then there is Friday’s game.

Kershaw was on cruise control. He hadn’t allowed a base-runner to second base, and maybe that was the problem, or else we may have seen his implosion coming. As soon as the Cardinals put some runners on base they started to tee off on his eminence. It happened fast, it was swift and it was unrelenting. 4 straight singles to start the 7th inning on eight pitches, seven of which were fastballs. The harder the Cardinals hit it, the harder Kershaw tried to throw it. Big mistake.

Consecutive singles by Matt Holliday, Johnny Peralta, Yadier Molina and Matt Adams sent shock waves through the Ravine. But, these small tremors paled in comparison for what was about to come. After a strike-out of Pete Kozma, Kershaw gave up a laser single to left by Jon Jay cutting the Cards deficit to 6-4 with the bases loaded and one out. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly visited the mound to talk with Kershaw, any thought of pulling Kershaw needed to be tempered by the realization that the Dodgers bullpen is the worst among the eight remaining playoff teams. That is not opinion, that is fact. If Mattingly would have gone to the pen at this point, I would have expected security to run out there and tackle both Donnie and Kershaw making sure he didn’t leave the bump. When your all-everything with 21 wins and a 1.77 ERA is in the high grass, you don’t run for the hills and hand the ball to some schlep.

It appeared Mattingly’s confidence would pay-off. Kershaw struck out phenom Oscar Tavares on three pitches, a first pitch fastball and a two wicked sliders down and away. Two down and the Dodgers still leading 6-4. All good right ?  Not so much.

Striding to the plate came the bane of the Clayton Kershaw’s existence. His personal kryptonite. Matt Carpenter had that legendary Game 6 at-bat in the 2013 NLCS. He fouled off what seemed like a dozen pitches, not getting fooled by change-ups, sliders and curves, simply grinding out an at-bat, while looking like he was on EVERYTHING. Eventually Carpenter would double down the right field line opening up the flood gates for the Cardinals as they would pound Kershaw and the Dodgers into submission on their way to a 9-0 win and the National League pennant. So, here we were, Kershaw and Carpenter again, locked in a pivotal post-season moment. And unlike last year, Kershaw refused to give in. He pounded the zone with heater after heater after heater.

First pitch fastball 95, fouled off, strike one. Second pitch fastball 95, swing and a miss strike two. Third pitch, fastball 94, fouled off, third base side. Fourth pitch slider, bouncing it at 89 in the dirt, 1 and 2. Fifth pitch, change-up at 88 way out of the zone 2 and 2.  Sixth pitch fastball, right down the middle at 94 and Carpenter was ON IT fouling it straight back. Seventh pitch slider at 89 down and in, the best pitch Kershaw threw in the sequence and Carpenter just gets a piece, the only pitch he looked fooled on. Eighth pitch, oh the eighth pitch, the pitch that will live in infamy if the Dodgers lose this series. Fastball, 95 middle in and he hammers it…..sitting dead red all the way and crushing it to deep right center. A 6-1 lead evaporates, and even though the Dodgers made some noise late, the meltdown was too much to overcome in a 10-9 loss as Yasiel Puig struck out with the tying run at third in the bottom of the 9th.

Meltdown complete.

This is simply a brutal loss. I lay it at the feet of the Dodgers for egotistically thinking that they didn’t have to switch up their signs and didn’t have to try to keep the Cardinal hitters off-balance. Kershaw’s insistence to pound the strike zone and giving up hit after hit as a precursor to Carpenter’s heroics was his undoing. Confidence and believe gave way to stupidity and arrogance. How in the world can you give up 4 singles on eight pitches to the heart of the Cardinal order on ALL fastballs ? How does that happen ? That happens when you are so confident, so sure of what you are doing that you don’t adjust to teams that make adjustments on you OR you don’t recognize or WANT to recognize they are stealing your signs. Kershaw and AJ Ellis have been around this game long enough to know that when you are getting hit with the same pitch in the same spot,  you might be 1) tipping your pitches or 2) they are stealing your pitches. If you don’t think this, then you are not a smart player and you are negligent in your duties.

It is hard not to be fatalistic about this Dodgers team. They needed this game, especially in a best-of-five format. The ace in the hole that the Dodgers have always leaned on is the thought that if this thing got to a 5th game you could always bring Kershaw back. Well, that theory is now shot. I love the guy, but he has now proven in two straight playoff appearances that he can’t solve the Cardinals and Matt Carpenter. A big part of the Dodgers swagger was the confidence in knowing they had the big Texan waiting to rescue them. At this point I don’t know whether Kershaw will rescue or sink them. Do we even know where his head is right now ? Can you imagine the inner turmoil in his mind ? He dominates an entire league for six months after getting crushed by the Cardinals last October, only to get crushed by them AGAIN this October. He is the only pitcher in the history of the game to give up 7 earned runs in back-to-back post season starts. That is unfathomable !

This is a team that can score, they have punch, they can run a little bit and they have solid starting pitching. But, their foundation has been cracked by this Cardinal group. To win this series the Dodgers can’t lean on one of the sports’ biggest weapons. He has gotten them this far, but to beat the Cardinals, the Dodgers are going to have to do it without their ace.

He can’t save them. They have to try to save him.