The NLCS Is Not Over, But It Doesn’t Look Great

October 13, 2013 at 9:37 am | Posted in 2013 NLCS | Leave a comment

Zack Greinke went to the mound in Game 1. He was excellent. The Dodgers lost.

Clayton Kershaw went to the mound in Game 2. He was even better. The Dodgers lost.

So it’s over, right? The magical season turned to dirt in a span of 24 hours, lost to a non-existent offense and never-ending injuries and poor managing and balls that might have been caught by Andre Ethier & A.J. Ellis?

Well, it doesn’t look good, I’ll give you that, especially not with Adam Wainwright facing Hyun-jin Ryu tomorrow back in Los Angeles. But while losing two games behind your best two starters is pretty much the worst-case scenario, and winning four out of five is going to be incredibly difficult, it’s also not unprecedented. This, after all, a team that won four out of every five over a span of about two months (don’t hold me to that math, but you get the point), and if the Cards can win a Joe Kelly / Greinke game, well, the Dodgers can certainly win a Wainwright / Ryu game.

After all, August 8 wasn’t that long ago, and that was when Ryu — in his only start of the year against St. Louis — held the Cardinals to one unearned run over seven innings. Obviously, he’s had his ups-and-downs since then, and it’s not pitching that has been the problem here anyway.

But of course, the big difference between the April / May “this team is atrocious” squad and the July / August “try and get in our way, I dare you” crew is that early in the year, Hanley Ramirez was injured and Yasiel Puig was in Double-A. During the streak, both were destroying baseballs, and Ethier was more than effective subbing for Matt Kemp in center field.

Now, Ramirez is once again injured, scheduled to have a CT scan today amid concerns of a fractured rib. Puig has been a black hole, going 0-for-10 with six strikeouts, though he’s at least shown good patience and some heads-up defensive play. Ethier can’t really be blamed for not getting to the ball in Game 1 at the center field wall — it was hardly a routine play, though I do think a better outfielder would have had it — but he has just one hit, was limping yesterday, and is now being referred to with terms like “microfracture”.

No, the Dodgers aren’t cooked yet, and the return home to play in front of what should be a raucous Dodger Stadium crowd can only help. But time is running short, and as far as “must-win” games go, yeah: beating Wainwright is a must-win.

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