If game 1 was a surrealist's circus-like dream, game 2 was a realist's will put into motion. Everything that was to be expected pretty much happened. It was a pitcher's duel, as one would have expected of both games, but this one in particular was a quite evenly matched contest.
Lance Lynn had a slightly underwhelming SIERA in 2014, especially when compared to his career rate (3.84 in 2014, 3.65 career). To make up for this, he was rather Clutch by the fangraphs stat in 2014, at 1.23 leverage (his ERA was 2.74). This was however, Lynn's first great season in his own mind, especially since he finally pitched a complete game and tallied his highest IP count of his career.
In contrast, Zack Greinke has been the more accomplished pitcher historically. Both have had questions in the past about their makeup, mentally. Tonight though, neither seemed to be headcases at all, but in control of their respective performances. It was just that Greinke was in more control. Going back to this season's performance rate, Zack was at 2.87 SIERA but not as Clutch, at .22 (but still good for a 2.71 ERA). Any way you slice it though Greinke had a great season in 2014 (both types of his FIP were sub 3.0). And that Zack Greinke showed up tonight.
Pull power proving pivotal in NLDS
The Cardinals have shown a pull-power surge so far in the NLDS, but it was the Dodgers who delivered a fatal pull-punch blow in Game 2.
The Lance Lynn that gave up just 2 runs was the Lance Lynn I had hoped for. His WPA impact on the game was only a slight negative. But the Dodgers pitching was just better. Greinke gave up no runs. Perhaps the only mistake was that Dodgers manager Don Mattingly went to his bullpen too early, setting up an opportunity for the ever tenacious Matt Carpenter, who has seemed especially so in the playoffs this year vs. the Dodgers. Greinke's replacement, J.P. Howell, who was ostensibly fine in the regular season, was taken deep by M. Carpenter, which tied the game at 2 in the 8th.
The scapegoat for the game was Pat Neshek, who floated one up there during the flipside of the 8th for Matt Kemp to blast out of Dodger stadium. We can blame the guy all we want, but it was just one missed pitch, and he was for the most part great this season and was a big reason the Cards are where they are now. Perhaps going forward he needs to not be relied on as much, however. Echoing the sentiment in the gamethread, I would have rather witnessed Carlos Martinez in that situation, but he could have been just as ineffective for all we know. To split the series at 1-1 in the illustrious Dodger Stadium while headed back to St. Louis is just fine with me, and I suspect most Cardinals fans.
Tonight's hero was the Dodgers pitching, even though there was a little bit of a mishap involving a weird play with Kolten Wong not tagging a guy properly, and the umps missing it, ultimately effecting the game, in that perhaps Matt Adams would have thrown a guy out, but we can never know what would have happened there. It was good that it was overturned, I suppose.... the umps screwed up nearly as much as Kolten, but in the end it was his miscue. In game reviews are here to stay now, for better or worse.
By WPA, Matt Carpenter's deposit of a dinger vs. J.P. Howell was the biggest leverage in this game (looking at both players WPA). It was however not enough to offset Greinke's and Kemp's heroics for the Dodgers squad. Despite the loss, it felt like the Cardinals were in control of this game in some ways. They completely shut down Yasiel Puig with 4 strikeouts against him... Nullified would be a good word for it. The other thing was that Oscar Taveras continued his great pinch hitting, making it interesting with a sharply hit single. And of course another big game for Matt Carpenter going 2 for 4 with a walk and a home run.
- A.J. Ellis was again an annoyance on offense, but not majorly so.
- Other than Howell, the Dodgers bullpen was solid and closed the door on any kind of Cardinals comeback tonight.
- Marco Gonzalez looked poised again tonight, which is a nice thought to have given his inexperience and how he could effect the postseason going forward.
- One could focus on Yadier Molina and Jhonny Peralta's ineffectiveness at the plate tonight, since they did not persevere during some big at-bats. But there were plenty of 0-fers tonight, including the youngster Grichuk, and Matt Adams (who did take a couple walks making his night a little better).
Another bright spot is that the Cards seemed sound on defense again. And the team only lost by a run, in a tight-knit battle. The next game is on Monday. While we do not know the exact time, it looks like it'll be Ryu vs. Lackey. This means that the Dodgers have the upper hand with the starter, at least by rate stats. Lackey certainly has way more experience though, so this could be seen as an inexperience vs playoff veteran matchup.
We will also see Shelby Miller's first postseason start in St. Louis after Monday. This has been a wonderful series so far, but I hope it ends in St. Louis with 2 Cardinals wins at home. My best guess tis that after two 1-run deciding factor games and plenty of tension, this thing will go 5.