Eight-run seventh inning sends Cardinals to 1-0 NLDS lead over the Dodgers

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As if the post-season hadn’t become crazy enough given the Orioles’ battering of the Tigers’ bullpen in each of the first two games of the ALDS and the Royals’ statistically improbable win in the AL Wild Card game against the Athletics, the Cardinals and Dodgers added to the intrigue on Friday night. Clayton Kershaw against Adam Wainwright. It’s going to be a low-scoring pitcher’s duel, right?

Randal Grichuk put the Cardinals up 1-0 early with a first-inning solo home run off of Kershaw, but that was it for offense for the Cardinals against Kershaw for a long time. The benches cleared at the start of the bottom of the third inning when Wainwright hit Yasiel Puig with a pitch. Following that, the Dodgers scored twice in each of the third, fourth, and fifth innings. A.J. Ellis, whose fifth-inning, two-run home run put the Dodgers up 6-1, ended Wainwright’s night much earlier than anticipated after just 4 1/3 innings.

According to FanGraphs, the Dodgers had a 98 percent chance to win based on historical data — meaning home teams ahead five runs after five innings have won 98 percent of the time. The Cardinals didn’t seem to care. Third baseman Matt Carpenter lifted a solo home run against Kershaw in the sixth inning to make it 6-2 before the Cardinals took control in the seventh.

Like a dating website, the seventh inning was all about the singles. The Cardinals racked up four of them consecutively off of Kershaw to lead off the frame, pushing across a run while loading the bases with nobody out in a 6-3 game. Pete Kozma, looking to lift a fly ball to right field, struck out which seemed like a good omen for the Dodgers. Jon Jay singled to left-center which brought in the Cardinals’ fourth run and brought two more runners into scoring position. Pinch-hitter Oscar Taveras then struck out in ugly fashion, which illuminated the end of the tunnel for Kershaw, but he’d have to get through Carpenter first.

Carpenter has been Kershaw’s nemesis, as he was a big reason why the lefty performed so poorly in his last post-season start, Game 6 of the NLCS last year. Carpenter saw 11 pitches from Kershaw in the third inning before doubling with one out. The Cardinals would go on to score four runs in the inning and eventually take the NLCS with a 9-0 victory over the Dodgers.

So what did Carpenter do against Kershaw this time? He fell behind 0-2, but fought valiantly to see six more pitches. On the eighth pitch, Carpenter laced a double into the gap in right-center, scoring all three runners on base as the Cardinals took a 7-6 lead. That was it for Kershaw. Pedro Baez took the hill in relief and issued a walk to Grichuk, bringing up Matt Holliday. Holliaday swung at Baez’s first offering, sending a three-run home run into the seats in left field to make the score 10-6.

From 98 percent underdogs to 95 percent favorites. Given the tenor of the post-season to date, though, one knew it wasn’t over yet. In the bottom of the eighth, Puig drew a one-out walk to bring up Adrian Gonzalez. Cardinals manager Mike Matheny opted to bring in lefty Randy Choate to face the left-handed Gonzalez, but Gonzalez promptly sent the third pitch Choate threw over the fence in right-center, cutting the Dodgers’ deficit to 10-8. Pat Neshek relieved Choate and escaped the eighth with no further damage.

Still, a two-run lead with three outs left? The Cardinals were still nine-to-one favorites historically. After the Cardinals went down quality in the top half of the ninth, closer Trevor Rosenthal took the hill looking to quickly get through the bottom of the Dodgers’ order. After Juan Uribe struck out, A.J. Ellis singled to right field for his fourth hit of the ballgame. Andre Ethier sliced a double down the left field line, putting the tying run in scoring position and moving the Dodgers’ odds of winning up to 26 percent. Dee Gordon grounded out weakly to the right side, pushing across a run while moving the tying run to third base, but also giving the Cardinals the second out, sending the Dodgers’ odds of winning down to 14 percent. The Dodgers’ hope rested on the shoulders of Puig. Puig fell behind 1-2, then fouled off three pitches before ultimately striking out swinging, giving the Cardinals a 10-9 victory to take a 1-0 lead in the NLDS.

This was a heck of a game to watch, as it completely deviated from every single narrative that was attached to it. A should-be pitcher’s duel turned into a slugfest. The greatest pitcher of his generation has been turned into a post-season chump in back-to-back games by the Cardinals. If you predicted anything that happened in Game 1 of the NLDS between the Dodgers and Cardinals, please email me with tomorrow’s winning lottery numbers.

Gaylord Perry, two-time Cy Young winner, dies at 84

Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports
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GAFFNEY, S.C. — Baseball Hall of Famer and two-time Cy Young Award winner Gaylord Perry, a master of the spitball and telling stories about the pitch, died at 84.

Perry died at his home in Gaffney, Cherokee County Coroner Dennis Fowler said. He did not provide additional details. A statement from the Perry family said he “passed away peacefully at his home after a short illness.”

The native of Williamston, North Carolina, made history as the first player to win the Cy Young in both leagues, with Cleveland in 1972 after a 24-16 season and with San Diego in 1978 – going 21-6 for his fifth and final 20-win season just after turning 40.

“Before I won my second Cy Young, I thought I was too old – I didn’t think the writers would vote for me,” Perry said in an article on the National Baseball Hall of Fame website. “But they voted on my performance, so I won it.”

“Gaylord Perry was a consistent workhorse and a memorable figure in his Hall of Fame career,” MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement, adding, “he will be remembered among the most accomplished San Francisco Giants ever … and remained a popular teammate and friend throughout his life.”

Perry was drafted by the San Francisco Giants and spent 10 seasons among legendary teammates like Hall of Famer Willie Mays, who said Thursday that Perry “was a good man, a good ballplayer and my good friend. So long old Pal.”

Juan Marichal remembered Perry as “smart, funny, and kind to everyone in the clubhouse. When he talked, you listened.”

“During our 10 seasons together in the San Francisco Giants rotation, we combined to record 369 complete games, more than any pair of teammates in the Major Leagues,” Marichal said. “I will always remember Gaylord for his love and devotion to the game of baseball, his family, and his farm.”

Perry, who pitched for eight major-league teams from 1962 until 1983, was a five-time All-Star who was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1991. He had a career record of 314-255, finished with 3,554 strikeouts and used a pitching style where he doctored baseballs or made batters believe he was doctoring them.

The National Baseball Hall of Fame said in a statement that Perry was “one of the greatest pitchers of his generation.” The Texas Rangers, whom Perry played for twice, said in a statement that the pitcher was “a fierce competitor every time he took the ball and more often than not gave the Rangers an opportunity to win the game.”

“The Rangers express their sincere condolences to Gaylord’s family at this difficult time,” the team’s statement said. “This baseball great will be missed.”

Perry’s 1974 autobiography was titled “Me and the Spitter,” and he wrote it in that when he started in 1962 he was the “11th man on an 11-man pitching staff” for the Giants. He needed an edge and learned the spitball from San Francisco teammate Bob Shaw.

Perry said he first threw it in May 1964 against the New York Mets, pitched 10 innings without giving up a run and soon after entered the Giants’ starting rotation.

He also wrote in the book that he chewed slippery elm bark to build up his saliva, and eventually stopped throwing the pitch in 1968 after MLB ruled pitchers could no longer touch their fingers to their mouths before touching the baseball.

According to his book, he looked for other substances, like petroleum jelly, to doctor the baseball. He used various motions and routines to touch different parts of his jersey and body to get hitters thinking he was applying a foreign substance.

Giants teammate Orlando Cepeda said Perry had “a great sense of humor … a great personality and was my baseball brother.”

“In all my years in baseball, I never saw a right-handed hurler have such a presence on the field and in the clubhouse,” Cepeda added.

Seattle Mariners Chairman John Stanton said in a release that he spoke with Perry during his last visit to Seattle, saying Perry was, “delightful and still passionate in his opinions on the game, and especially on pitching.

Perry was ejected from a game just once for doctoring a baseball – when he was with Seattle in August 1982. In his final season with Kansas City, Perry and teammate Leon Roberts tried to hide George Brett’s infamous pine-tar bat in the clubhouse but was stopped by a guard. Perry was ejected for his role in that game, too.

After his career, Perry founded the baseball program at Limestone College in Gaffney and was its coach for the first three years.

Perry is survived by wife Deborah, and three of his four children in Allison, Amy and Beth. Perry’s son Jack had previously died.

Deborah Perry said in a statement to The AP that Gaylord Perry was “an esteemed public figure who inspired millions of fans and was a devoted husband, father, friend and mentor who changed the lives of countless people with his grace, patience and spirit.”

The Hall of Fame’s statement noted that Perry often returned for induction weekend “to be with his friends and fans.”

“We extend our deepest sympathy to his wife, Deborah, and the entire Perry family,” Baseball Hall of Fame chairman Jane Forbes Clark said.