Game 3 was more of the same for the Dodgers. A close game in the late innings. A starting pitcher yanked. And a bullpen than simply cannot get the big outs when needed.
Add it all up, and it's the Cardinals who are feeling good after a 3-1 victory in Game 3 of the NLDS. Game 4 is Tuesday afternoon, as the Dodgers turn to Clayton Kershaw on three days' rest to salvage the series.
The story for the start of Game 3 was the return of Hyun-Jin Ryu, and with a strikeout of Matt Carpenter to start the game, he showed that his shoulder was ready to go. He ended up lasting six innings, giving up one run on five hits, striking out four. He really gave the Dodgers everything they could've hoped for.
Who didn't give the Dodgers what they hoped for? That's right - the damn bullpen. More specifically, the middle relief, because they're so bad at this point, Kenley Jansen stands virtually no chance of being handed the ball in the ninth with a lead. It's gotten downright embarrassing watching the middle relief in action.
In the previous two games, we've seen Pedro Baez and J.P. Howell fall apart. In Game 3, it was Scott Elbert's turn. With the rain coming down hard from a passing shower, Yadier Molina took a first-pitch fastball to left for a double to start the seventh.
After a Jon Jay sacrifice bunt, Kolten Wong deposited a 405-foot home run to right, KO'ing any chance the Dodgers had in this one. Elbert gave up a double to Carpenter for good measure before mercifully getting the hook.
I know a lot of people blame Don Mattingly for putting Elbert in, as it clearly was the wrong move. But think about it - who the hell else is there to turn to? Brian Wilson? Give me a break. He faced three batters, giving up a double and intentional walk. After getting an out, he had the nerve to act surprised that he was getting pulled. That's right, the guy who's stunk it up all season long is mad he's getting pulled. Whatever.
Brandon League is another option, but not much of one. Howell was very fortunate to turn a double play on a ball hit back to him to end the eighth. Of course, he gave up another single right before that to load the bases. He's about as easy a reliever to hit as there is in baseball right now.
At this point, the Dodgers are going to have to win in spite of the crap that sits in the bullpen all game, then comes in and gives up hard hit after hard hit. I guess they can only hope Kershaw and Zack Greinke keep their pitch counts low, keep the score lower, and bridge the gap themselves to Jansen.
Two guys we haven't seen appear yet are Jamey Wright and Carlos Frias, so don't be surprised if they're next in line to give this thing a shot. You can also include Dan Haren on that list since he's been bumped from his Game 4 start. Hell, he's better than watching some of these other clowns.
Despite all of this, the Dodgers only need to win two straight games to advance. One in St. Louis with Kershaw looking for redemption, and back in LA with Greinke. That's certainly doable. Maybe someone like Adrian Gonzalez or Hanley Ramirez hits a couple homers and leads the way.
It will also help to not have the incredibly inconsistent Dale Scott calling balls and strikes. He should be an NBA referee with all the home town calls he gave. I don't blame Kemp at all for going off about the strike zone. It was a joke all night long.