NLCS Game 1 Recap

Carlos Beltran walks-off a Cardinals Game 1 victory in 13th inning

10/12/13 in MLB   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Blog Photo - NLCS Game 1 RecapNormally, it's very difficult to define a "clutch player." While clutch hitting obviously exists, there is little evidence that certain players can consistently perform better in those situations. Then there is the human outlier to that theory, Carlos Beltran. After another phenomenal performance in Game 1 of the NLCS, Beltran's career postseason batting line, in 40 games and 178 at-bats, is .345/.449/.750. His 1.199 OPS is among the best ever. He did it again last night, winning Game 1 for the Cardinals 3-2 in the 13th inning on a walk-off hit.


That wasn't the only big play Beltran made this game. After a Juan Uribe single gave the Dodgers a 2-0 in the top of the third, Beltran followed with a 2 run double of his own in the bottom half to tie it up. There wouldn't be another score for another 10 innings.

Other than the blemishes in the 3rd (started by giving up a hit to the pitcher, then walking Matt Carpenter before Beltran did his thing), Dodgers pitcher Zach Greinke was dominant, throwing 8 innings, striking out 10 and giving up 4 hits and a walk. Anyone and everyone that either said or implied Greinke couldn't pitch in big games for whatever reason can kindly shut their piehole now. Greinke did get some defensive help though, including this double up by one Yasiel Puig.

His St. Louis Joe Kelly labored more, but threw 6 innings and gave up just 2 runs as well. It was about this point of the game where Dodgers manager Don Mattingly started making moves that would haunt him. It started in the 8th, when Adrian Gonzalez led off with a walk. Mattingly pinch ran Dee Gordon for Gonzalez. Gordon would be out the next batter on a fielder's choice, and a double play would end the inning. With Gonzalez gone, the Dodgers turned to Michael Young to play first base and bat clean-up the rest of the game.

Then, as Greinke's night ended and it turned into extra innings, Mattingly went through his entire bullpen without going to closer Kenley Jansen. He was managing to the save rule, a save opportunity that was far from guaranteed to come. Despite that, it was the Dodgers that had the chances in extra innings. Mark Ellis hit a triple with 1 out in the 10th (helped by a poor route by Jon Jay). Hanley Ramirez was intentionally walked, because remember that on-deck is now Michael Young. Young hit a fly ball, and if you're a Cardinals fan, be very happy that Beltran called off Jay, because this happened.


There is some doubt on whether Molina actually tagged Ellis with the ball, but the throw was perfect and there was no argument. The Dodgers had two on again in the 11th, but pinch hitter Nick Punto struck out. Then in the 12th, well, Dodgers fans might want to look away.

Carl Crawford led off with a single. Mattingly then has Mark Ellis bunt him to second. OK, except now first base is open with Hanley Ramirez. Knowing that on-deck is Michael Young and not Gonzalez, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny ordered Ramirez intentionally walked again. Young then grounded into the double play. Even before that though, Mattingly's lack of situational awareness cost him.

The Dodgers went quietly in the 13th. The bottom half started with Chris Withrow pitching. Pinch hitter Daniel Descalso led off with a single, then Matt Carpenter walked. Then and only then did the closer Jansen come in. He technically becomes the goat, but well, it was Beltran being Beltran in the postseason.

After that fantastic Game 1 that ended after 1 am on the East Coast, these teams get to do it all again later this afternoon (first pitch: 4:07 ET). The Dodgers shouldn't panic though, because their starter today is Clayton Kershaw. The Cardinals counter though with Michael Wacha, who has two near no-hitters in a row. After having lost with Greinke on the mound, the Dodgers can't afford to lose with Kershaw, or they'll be in real trouble.
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