Shelby Miller dominates the Rockies in one-hit shutout

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Cardinals starter Shelby Miller completely outclassed the Rockies’ offense tonight, throwing a one-hit shutout at Busch Stadium. The Rockies entered the night with the National League’s best offense, averaging five runs per game, but after a lead-off single by Eric Young in the first inning, they couldn’t muster any semblance of a threat as the Cardinals went on to win 3-0. Miller, the Cardinals’ first round pick (19th overall) in 2009, retired the final 27 hitters he faced, striking out 13 of them as he lowered his ERA on the season to 1.58.

Miller’s performance adds to the Cardinals’ dominating starting rotation. Their aggregate 2.20 ERA is best in baseball by a long shot, outpacing the Tigers at 3.22. The high-quality innings from the rotation is a welcome sight as the Cardinals bring up the rear in bullpen ERA at 5.14, especially brutal having lost closer Jason Motte for the season to Tommy John surgery.

The Cardinals scored once in the second on a Pete Kozma RBI single, once in the third on a Carlos Beltran home run, and once in the fifth on a Jon Jay sacrifice fly. The win moves the Cardinals to 22-12 and they remain three games ahead of the Reds in the NL Central.

The Cubs live for another day, but death will come soon

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The Cubs had a nice night last night. Javier Baez finally broke his hitless streak with not one but two homers. Willson Contreras hit a nearly 500-foot homer. Jake Arrieta, possibly pitching for the last time as a Cub, dug down for a gutsy performance, pitching into the seventh inning, working around some walks to allow only one run while striking out nine.

After the game, Cubs players sounded hopeful notes about believing in themselves, taking them one game at a time, getting the series back to L.A. for a Game 6 and Game 7. They’re professional athletes who know better than any of us that to achieve a thing you have to believe you can achieve that thing, so it’d be dumb to expect anything else from them in this situation. Ballplayers, quite admirably, don’t sound a note of defeat until they are actually defeated.

But let’s be realistic there: they’re still a dead team walking.

  • They’re dead because, as we have been reminded oh so many times, only once in 35 tries has a team come back to win a seven game series in which they’ve found themselves down 0-3. That team did so because Dave Roberts worked some magic. Dave Roberts is working for the other team now.
  • They’re dead because their biggest weakness this postseason — their bullpen — is not going to have its best pitcher, Wade Davis, available today in Game 5 after throwing 48 pitches in Game 4.
  • They’re dead because while the Dodgers used five relievers last night, none of them were worked particularly hard and neither Brandon Morrow nor Kenley Jansen were used at all, allowing them to come in and work hard and heavy tonight if need be.
  • They’re dead because the man on the mound to start tonight’s game is Clayton Edward Kershaw. Yes, he has had some less-than-glory-filled moments in the postseason in recent years, but all of those have come at the tail end of starts, when his managers have left him in perhaps an inning too long. See the above bullet point — and Dave Roberts’ early hook in Game 1 — if you think that’ll be a problem tonight.

The Dodgers lost last night, yes, but it was their first loss in the postseason. All teams have lost at least one postseason game since it went to the three-round format, so it was likely inevitable that L.A. would drop one. Heck, maybe they’ll drop two before the NLCS is over, but they’re not going to drop the next three in a row.

Last night’s Cubs win was nice for them, but it only delayed the inevitable.