Overaggressive Cardinals come up empty in Game 5 loss

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In getting shut out by the Giants on Friday, the Cardinals never worked a walk against Barry Zito and company. Their one free pass was intentional, as Pete Kozma was walked ahead of the pitcher to set up an inning-ending double play in the second inning.

In all, the Cardinals have drawn a total of eight unintentional walks in five games against the Giants. That’s a remarkably low total from an offense that finished fourth in the NL with 533 walks. And it’s not like the Giants have been throwing Cliff Lee over and over again. They were seventh in the NL in walks allowed by their pitchers, at 489.

Matt Holliday and Jon Jay have been the most aggressive of the Cardinals hitters so far, and it seems to be taking a toll. Holliday went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts tonight and is 4-for-21 with no extra-base hits in the series. He hasn’t homered since the wild card game against the Braves two weeks ago. Jay, the Cardinals’ leadoff man, is 5-for-21 with no walks. He’s also been awful in road games all year long, so there’s a case for sitting him with the series returning to St. Louis on Sunday. However, the Cardinals value his defense so highly that it’s unlikely they’d go that route.

At the very least, hitting coach Mark McGwire should have talks with both. For Holliday, this is shaping up as his sixth lousy postseason series in seven total series with the Cardinals. He hit .289 with five homers and 10 RBI during the Rockies’ World Series run in 2007, but since arriving in St. Louis in 2009, he’s come in at .250 with three homers and 13 RBI in 108 at-bats. Much of that production came in last year’s NLCS against the Brewers. He went 3-for-19 with no RBI in the World Series last year, and he’s hitting .222 with seven RBI in 45 at-bats so far this month.

Clayton Kershaw might return to the Dodgers’ rotation next week

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Dodgers southpaw Clayton Kershaw is nearing his return to the mound, according to club manager Dave Roberts. Both Kershaw (left biceps tendinitis) and fellow lefty Rich Hill (left middle finger blister) are scheduled to toss simulated games on Saturday; depending on the outcome, Roberts says Kershaw could forgo a minor league assignment and slot back into the rotation by Thursday.

Kershaw, 30, was diagnosed with biceps tendinitis as the team closed out their Mexico Series at the start of the month. He has not made a start in several weeks, but was finally able to resume throwing on Sunday and managed to get through two successful bullpen sessions. Though Dodgers’ ace hasn’t been completely injury-free over his 11-year career in the majors, this is the first significant issue he’s had with his pitching arm so far. The team is expected to take every precaution with the lefty, and will likely limit him to just four innings during Saturday’s simulated game.

Prior to his injury, Kershaw was working on another dominant run with the club, sporting a 2.86 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 9.8 SO/9 through his first 44 innings of the season. While Kershaw, Hill and left-handed starter Hyun-Jin Ryu served their respective terms on the disabled list this month, the Dodgers utilized a combination of relievers Ross Stripling and Brock Stewart, both of whom impressed during their limited time in the rotation.