|Game 1||Wed||Dodger Stadium
|Game 2||Thu||Dodger Stadium||3:07pm|
|Game 3||Sat||Busch Stadium||3:07pm|
|Game 4*||Sun||Busch Stadium||TBD|
|*if necessary||All times Pacific|
|All games televised on TBS|
Game one is upon us, finally. The last two days have seemed like an eternity, but game day is finally here. It no longer matters what happened over the final 10, 20, or 30 games, or even the season for that matter. It doesn't matter how many pundits pick against the team with the best record in the National League, and the best run differential in baseball. All that matters now is that the playoffs are here, the Cardinals are here, and the Dodgers get to play at home.
The Dodgers have lost 31 of their last 43 games against the Cardinals, and they will start Chris Carpenter, who is something like 74-2 against the Dodgers with a 0.07 ERA. I may have rounded on those numbers, so don't quote me. I went back to MLB Gameday to look at both of Carpenter's starts against the Dodgers, both Cardinal wins. I looked specifically at how he pitched to the Dodgers' big three outfielders, trying to find a pattern:
vs. Andre Ethier: Carpenter threw 17 pitches, but only five fastballs. Ethier smoked the three fastballs that were strikes for a single, double, and a lineout. Carpenter had success when keeping the ball up on Ethier, inducing a couple infield popups and a groundout
vs. Manny Ramirez: Threw 10 fastballs in 22 pitches. Carpenter had success when challenging Manny on his hands with the inside fastball, inducing a pair of double plays. Manny hit a double off a mistake pitch, a fastball Carpenter left up in the zone.
vs. Matt Kemp: Threw nine fastballs in 29 pitches. Carpenter got Kemp out on off-speed stuff away. Kemp was patient though, seeing those 29 pitches in only six plate appearances.
I'm no scout, but it seems to me the Dodgers strategy against Carpenter is to wait on his fastball. It could be a dangerous plan against someone who walks so few hitters (1.8 walks per nine innings on the season), but it was the same plan that worked against Tim Lincecum at Dodger Stadium nearly three weeks ago.
A better strategy just might be to have Randy Wolf pitch a good game. Tonight is Wolf's first playoff game, in his 11th big league season, so I'm sure the butterflies will be there. Then again, he did give up 16 and 17 runs in the first two innings, respectively, this year, so that might not be anything new. Then again, Wolf almost always settles down and ends up pitching deep into the game, so there is no need to worry.
All quality starts are not created equal, but Wolf is comparable to Carpenter in that department. Wolf threw 24 quality starts, which was 71% of the time, good for eighth in the NL. Carpenter was second in the league, throwing a quality start in 22 of 28 starts, 79% of the time.
The last time the Dodgers hosted game one of a playoff series was in 1996 against the Braves, a 2-1 loss in 10 innings. The Braves' starter that day was John Smoltz, who will be available in the bullpen for tonight's game and might start game four on Sunday.
James Loney has a hit in each of the eight postseason games he has started, and is hitting .382/.447/.559 with 11 runs batted in in nine playoff games.
The Cardinals have two left-handed relievers on their playoff roster, Dennys Reyes and Trever Miller. Andre Ethier, who hit .194/.283/.345 against southpaws this season, has only limited action against both. He is 0-for-1 with walk and a HBP against Reyes, and has one hit in five at-bats against Miller. Ethier did manage to hit lefites well at home, however, hitting .305/.376/.610 with six home runs in 93 plate appearances at Dodger Stadium.
The Dodgers are 4-6 all-time in game ones at Dodger Stadium.
Game Time: 6:37pm
TV: TBS (all NL playoff games will be on TBS)