Clayton Kershaw on the mound. Hanley Ramirez a late addition to the lineup. Some momentum after winning Game 5 with four home runs a couple of days before.
None of it mattered.
The Cardinals scored four in the third and five in the fifth, and the Dodgers had two hits the entire game in getting absolutely creamed, 9-0. That's it for this season, as the Dodgers deepest run since 1988 ended with a 4-2 series loss.
A sign of bad things to come happened in the first. Carl Crawford legged out an infield single to short, but was quickly erased on a double play ball from Mark Ellis, who was pretty bad all around in this one. Kershaw gave up a one-out double to Carlos Beltran, but nothing came of it.
Kershaw again wiggled out of trouble in the second when Shane Robinson hit a two-out single, then went ahead to third on two straight wild pitches. Again, Kershaw got out of trouble by striking out Peter Kozma.
The third inning? No such luck. The season was essentially lost here, as the Cardinals sent 10 batters to the plate, a completely shocking sight against someone of Kershaw's caliber. A double by Matt Carpenter with two outs led to an RBI single from Beltran for the 1-0 lead.
What's probably forgotten is that Matt Holliday struck out to make two down. Six batters came to the plate afterwards, as Yadier Molina started it on an RBI single up the middle. Kershaw didn't get the outside corner on a full count to Matt Adams, as home plate umpire Greg Gibson was squeezing him for whatever reason. Oh, I know the reason... the game was in St. Louis. Robinson's two-run single with the bases loaded made it 4-0.
Chances were slim, but at least Crawford led off the fourth with a walk against the red hot Michael Wacha. Three straight popups came next, as the bats were just pitiful all night long.
In the fifth, Kershaw was KO'd. An RBI double from Adams is what finally did him in. Ronald Belisario came in, and with the bases loaded, Wacha's grounder to Ellis at second was inexplicably thrown home late, making it 6-0.
A sacrifice fly from Carpenter, a wild pitch by J.P. Howell, and a single by Beltran scored the other runs, as the Cardinals completely ran away with this one at 9-0.
The last hit of the game for the Dodgers came in the sixth, as A.J. Ellis doubled leading off. Shocker of shocks, he was stranded right there.
It's a shame this game turned out to be such a trainwreck, as it was obviously not a reflection for the type of season the Dodgers put together. They came such a long way from being in last place in June, had the 42-8 run, won the NL West, beat the Braves in the NLDS, then couldn't come through when most needed in the NLCS.
As you can see, there were many positives, but Game 6 was anything but that. Kershaw lasted only four innings for 10 hits, seven runs, two walks, and five strikeouts. He couldn't locate his fastball well, and they took advantage of it. What also didn't help was a small strike zone by Gibson, and even though that ultimately didn't matter because of the offense, it still affected him enough to throw him off his game. And that's the truth.
Two things that I knew had to happen if the Dodgers wanted to win coming into this game: the offense had to give some support, and Beltran couldn't do the damage. Um... no check and no check. Adrian Gonzalez, Ramirez, Andre Ethier, Yasiel Puig, and Juan Uribe combined to go 0-for-15 hitting in the 3-7 spots. Wow, I knew they were bad during the game, but it didn't hit me just how bad until I just looked at the box score.
A lot of Cardinals did damage, but it started with Beltran. He went 3-for-4 with a double and two RBIs. That's something I'll never understand about this series, the way the Dodgers stubbornly gave him pitches to hit, and he certainly did. He's so good in the postseason, yet in the first and last game, he was so big in leading his team to wins. I'm still shaking my head.
Now the offseason is upon us, and with that, some question marks that come with it. Will Don Mattingly be brought back? Will Kershaw sign a massive extension? Will the front office bring in another star like Robinson Cano? Will recovering arms like Chad Billingsley and Josh Beckett be ready to go for next year? We will soon find out.
On a personal note, this has been my sixth year covering the action day in and day out on this blog. This season has been the most fun, and craziest for that matter, and I've enjoyed every second of it. Stay tuned for a season review, plus for all the news that comes in the Hot Stove season. Thanks again!