The St. Louis Cardinals and Los Angeles Dodgers played the final game of their four-game series this evening. This is the final regular season matchup between the two squads; they previously played each other May 29-31, with the Cards taking two of three.
Status of this series: The Redbirds began with a convincing 7-1 win behind a strong performance from Michael Wacha on Thursday. An 8th-inning rally led St. Louis to a 2-1 victory on Friday. The Cards then ran into a dominant Clayton Kershaw last night, mustering just one hit all night in a 2-0 loss that snapped a 5-game winning streak.
A positive gained from this series, even in a potential split, is another series victory. St. Louis has lost just three series' all season, their last coming to the Royals in mid-May.
Previously on VEB recaps: If you missed it, lil_scooter's recap of last night's contest is here.
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Sunday's pitching matchup: Lance Lynn (4-4, 3.03 ERA heading into Sunday) vs. Zack Greinke (5-1, 1.97)
Previous outings: Lynn's last outing against Milwaukee on Tuesday was a 1-0 Cardinal victory, in which the right-hander threw 7 2/3 of shutout baseball. He allowed five hits and struck out the same number of Brewers.
Greinke's last outing, against the Rockies (also Tuesday), was his worst of the season. Greinke threw 6 innings and allowed 10 hits and five runs, striking out just two Colorado batters. Despite the 9-8 Dodger victory, the righty's ERA elevated from 1.48 to 1.97. (As expected, he remained largely unimpressed with the result.)
Tonight's #Dodgers lineup vs. Cardinals: Pederson CF Puig RF Gonzalez 1B Turner 3B Ethier LF Grandal C Hernandez 2B Rollins SS Greinke P— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) June 7, 2015
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A late offensive surge proved successful for the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday night.
Facing off against the Dodgers in the regular-season finale between the two squads - on national TV, no less - an 8th-inning rally lifted St. Louis over one of their main rivals.
The key inning was started with a Matt Carpenter walk by Dodger reliever Adam Liberatore. Juan Nicasio relieved Liberatore following the walk, and the Cardinals took advantage of the change.
Matt Holliday, the first batter Nicasio faced, lined a base hit into right field. Yasiel Puig mishandled the ball on a bounce; the boot allowed Carpenter to score and Holliday to go to 3rd. Jhonny Peralta and Mark Reynolds followed with hits of their own, putting St. Louis up 4-2 and knocking Nicasio out of the ballgame.
Before the late rally, Sunday featured three different possible storylines - the dominance of three Dodgers (Justin Turner, Puig and the aforementioned Greinke), ESPN's announcing crew debating a possible injury to Lance Lynn throughout the 4th and 5th innings, and missed opportunities.
The home Dodgers struck for two runs in the first three innings, each being driven in by Turner. Greinke, meanwhile, was dominant on both sides of the ball. The LA starter threw 6 2/3 innings on the mound, allowing just one run - a 6th inning home run to Jhonny Peralta - while striking out 8 Redbirds; he also was 2-for-2 at the plate, improving his batting average to .208.
St. Louis stranded six runners over the first 6 innings, with the biggest missed opportunity coming in the 4th. After Peralta opened the inning with a double, Greinke retired the next three batters - striking out Jason Heyward and Reynolds for the first 2 outs, then inducing Jon Jay into an inning-ending pop-out.
Beginning with the Dodgers' next turn at bat, the ESPN announcing trio (Mark Mulder, John Kruk and Karl Ravech) began speculating whether Lynn had been quietly pitching through an injury. The debate also included possible frustrations with the landing area on the mound, something that Greinke had not appeared to be affected by. Speculation was further fueled by trainer visits, Lynn retreating to the clubhouse (before returning to the dugout) and discussions with Cardinal manager Mike Matheny, but nothing concrete ever came up.
Lynn was lifted in the 6th inning, after allowing six hits and two runs; the Cardinal starter threw 98 pitches in his outing, while his opposite number threw 99.
Heyward made a great defensive play that ended the bottom of the 6th. Jimmy Rollins lined a two-out single into right-center, and a strong running throw by Heyward - and subsequent tag by backstop Tony Cruz - made Andre Ethier the final out of the frame.
Following Lynn's exit, the Cardinal bullpen allowed just one hit to the Dodgers. Five relievers combined to shut down LA, with lefty Kevin Siegrist picking up the win and Trevor Rosenthal notching his 19th save of the season.
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Bot 1 - Turner doubles in Puig from 1st -- LA 1, STL 0
Bot 3 - Turner single scores Greinke -- LA 2, STL 0
Top 6 - Peralta solo HR -- LA 2, STL 1
Top 8 - Holliday single & Puig error scores Carpenter from 1st, Holliday advances to 3rd on play -- LA 2, STL 2
Top 8 - Peralta single scores pinch-runner Peter Bourjos -- STL 3, LA 2
Top 8 - Reynolds double scores Peralta from 1st -- STL 4, LA 2
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On deck: The Cards continue their road trip tomorrow with a happy flight, packing up and traveling to Denver to take on the Colorado Rockies. Former Redbird Daniel Descalso, the old war hero who is batting .244 (prior to the start of Sunday's Marlins-Rox game), will face his old team for the first time.
John Lackey (4-3, 2.93 ERA) will pitch for the Cardinals, while the starter for Colorado has not officially been announced. While still unofficial, the Rockies' starter is rumored to be right-hander David Hale.
Lackey has thrown at Coors Field twice in his career and struggled in his appearances at the high-altitude ballpark, allowing four home runs and nine earned runs over 12 2/3 innings at Coors.
Hale has made two starts for the Rockies this season, his last coming on Tuesday against the Dodgers. He was traded this past offseason from Atlanta in a four-player trade, in which he and fellow pitcher Gus Schlosser were dealt for two minor league catchers.
The game is set to begin at 8:40 pm Eastern / 7:40 pm Central.