If I had done one of those check-mark previews before the series the Dodgers certainly would have gotten a check-mark for the bullpen. This may be where they have a clearest advantage over the Cardinals, and they rode it to victory in game one of the series. The Dodger pen was not always dominant, but they always got the job done. Every pitcher but Belisario had a shaky moment. Weaver especially looked out of place in the game ( and on the playoff roster ) but he got the job done after nearly giving up a three-run double that just went foul.
Did you see that ball land foul? I thought it was fair when it happened. Off the bat I never even thought it would go foul. There was the game, the series, the season, at least in the parts of the brain where one moment of adversity means it's all over. Even when Manny just casually picked up the ball in the corner and tossed it to the fans I wasn't sure. Let's face it, we all know Manny is capable of doing something like that on a fair ball that he thinks is foul. Or maybe he's not capable of that, but it seems like he would be. I think there is still some primitive part of my brain that still doesn't realize that ball went foul. I'm still having nightmares of Cardinals running around the bases and taking the lead.
The Dodgers would also get a check-mark in the lineup filler category. We all know that Pujols is the best hitter in the series, and the Dodgers probably can't match the one-two punch of Pujols and Holliday, but the Dodgers have a clear advantage in the rest of the lineup over the Cardinals, and that also showed in last night's game.
Every spot in the Dodgers lineup came to the plate exactly 5 times. Below is the number of times each player got on base. The ninth spot included two at bats from Wolf, and one each from Pierre, Thome, and Broxton.
Furcal -- 3
Kemp -- 1
Ethier -- 4
Manny -- 2
Loney -- 3
Blake -- 3
Belliard -- 3
Martin -- 3
Ninth Spot -- 0
Everyone but Manny, Kemp and the pitcher's was on base 3 times. That's kind of incredible, I think. Even weirder is that the arguable offensive hero of the game only got on base once.
The Dodgers beat the Cardinals 22-18 in runners reaching safely. More often than not the team that puts the most men on base will win the game, though obviously hitting with runners in scoring position and extra base hits can change things around. The Dodgers have made their season on reaching base more than the opposition, and their regular season games with the Cardinals were no exception. Though the Dodgers lost the season series 2-5, they put more men on base than the Cardinals in 4 of the 7 games, and overall they out-on-based the Cardinals in the season series 92-86.
Of the Dodgers 22 runners, 5 scored, one was lost to a double play, and 16 were left on base. I'm not worried about the men left on base because I just don't believe this is something that can ever be reliably called a trend.
I think I would have given a check-mark to the Cardinal starters before the series, and as bad as Carpenter was made to look yesterday he was still probably a little better than Wolf. But Wolf got the outs when he needed them, and the early hook when he was out of gas.
NLDS Game 1 Unfair Win Shares ( Dodgers )
Kemp -- 1
Belisario -- 1
Broxton -- 1
This is a really weird game to figure out. Kemp gets an unfair win share even though he only got on base once, because his home run and the small cushion it provided was really what kept the Dodgers struggles with leaving men on base later from feeling like a disaster.
Belisario was the best reliever, and Broxton while giving up a run did get Pujols to end the eighth and Ankiel to end the ninth. Broxton's run was allowed when Kemp let a ball get past him in the outfield, and I would argue that Kemp's only mistake here was not going even more all out to catch that ball. With a three run lead and one on in the ninth inning there is no need to worry about keeping the hitter at first on a base hit, since the next batter will be the tying run either way. Now if Kemp had made that kind of play with the tying run at the plate it would have been awful. But as it was he was right to go for the catch.
NLDS Game 1 Unfair Loss Shares ( Cardinals )
Carpenter -- 1
Holliday -- 1
Ludwick -- 1
Ludwick came so close to being the hero, on that near-double down the line that was foul. But it was foul, and then he grounded out to Weaver. He had a gift single in the first inning to drive in a run, on a ball where Kemp should have firmly called off Belliard, or Belliard should have given way sooner. I'm not really sure whose fault that pop-fly single was, but I'm sure that Ludwick didn't do anything there that could help him escape an unfair loss share. The Cardinals needed more from their two hitters after Pujols and they just didn't get it.