The improbable continues in NLCS

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Game 1: Zack Greinke versus Joe Kelly.

Cardinals win.

Game 2: Clayton Kershaw versus Michael Wacha.

Cardinals win.

Game 3: Adam Wainwright versus Hyun_jin Ryu.

Dodgers win.

The Cardinals led the National League in runs scored both for the season as a whole and in the second half. The Dodgers started slowly, but they were third in the league in runs and second in OPS after the All-Star break. 31 innings into the NLCS, the teams have combined to scored nine runs.

And if that wasn’t unlikely enough, one of those three runs that scored tonight was charged to Cardinals reliever Kevin Siegrist. It’s the first earned run he’s allowed in three months. It’s just the second he’s surrendered in 42 innings as a major leaguer.

Finally, a fan dressed as a bear was thrown out of the ballpark tonight.

Tonight’s game could have seen the Cardinals virtually clinch the series with their ace on the mound. Wainwright allowed two runs over 16 innings in his two NLDS starts against the Pirates. Ryu gave up four rins in three innings in his NLDS loss to the Braves.

Yet, Ryu, amid rumors of elbow and back problems, came out throwing his hardest pitches of the season tonight. It’s not even an exaggeration: he hit 95 mph on the gun for the first time as a major leaguer.

Wainwright was fine, but Ryu was better. The lefty pitched seven scoreless innings, allowing three hits. It was just the second time in 32 starts this year that he went without allowing a run.

With the loss tonight, the Cardinals will definitely see Greinke again. They don’t necessarily have to win another Greinke or Kershaw start to advance, but now it’s a series, even if it’s still an incredibly odd one.

Mike Trout has been really good at baseball lately

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“Water wet,” “Sky blue,” “Dog bites man” and “Mike Trout good” are not exactly newsworthy sentiments, but once in a while you have to state the obvious just so you can look back later and make sure you were, in the moment, aware of the obvious.

And to be fair, “Mike Trout good” is underselling the Angels outfielder lately. He’s on the greatest tear of his great career lately, and dang it, that’s worthy of a few words on this blog.

Last night Trout went a mere 1-for-1, but that’s because the Diamondbacks were smart enough not to pitch to him too much, walking him twice. There was no one on base the first time he came up and he got a free pass. There was a guy on first but two outs the second time, so he was once again not given much to hit and took his base again. Arizona was not so lucky the third time. The bases were loaded and there was nowhere to put Trout. He smacked the first pitch he saw for a two-run single. They probably shoulda just walked him anyway, limiting the damage to one. The last time up he reached on catcher’s interference. Maybe Arizona figured that literally grabbing the bat from him with a catcher’s mitt was the best bet?

If so you can’t blame them, really. Not with the month he’s had. In June, Trout is hitting .448/.554/.776 with five homers. He currently leads the league in the following categories: home runs (23), runs (60), walks (64), on-base percentage (.469), OPS (1.158) OPS+ (219), total bases (179) and intentional walks (9). He currently has a bWAR of 6.5. WAR, in case you did not know, is a cumulative stat. When he won the 2014 MVP Award, he “only” had 7.6 for the entire year.

Sadly, one man does not a team make, so the Angels are only 9-8 in the month of June and have fallen far back of the red-hot Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners in the division race. For this reason I suspect a lot of people are going to do what they’ve long done and overlook Mike Trout’s sheer dominance or, even more ridiculously, claim he is overrated or something (believe me, I’ve seen it even this month).

Feel free to ignore those people and concentrate instead on the greatest baseball player in the game today, who has somehow managed to up his game in recent weeks.