If the St. Louis Cardinals don't like the way a certain Dodger celebrates a bit hit, they are certain to tell you about. Never mind that their players delight in a moment of achievement with whatever fist-pumping choreograph occurs to them at the time.
The Cards get a tad miffed when a home-run-hitting Dodger like Adrian Gonzalez flips the bat halfway to the Sunset gate after a mammoth blast deep into the right field pavilion, which no doubt is why he did it, adding a little Mickey-Mouse-ears salute for good measure.
The teams aren't crazy about each other right about now — five games on six October days will do that too you — and at least one writer is thinking, with all the unwritten rules in baseball, if only he could be paid by the word to chronicle them.
Gonzalez hit two of his team's four homers in Wednesday's 6-4 win at Chavez Ravine (Carl Crawford and A.J. Ellis the others), Zack Greinke got out of a no outs, bases loaded jam in the first inning, pitched seven strong, and for added bird-flipping fun, Mark Ellis took out two Cardinals infielders on one play (see bowling pin photo below).
The Dodgers are back in the series after being beaten and discouraged the night before, a city bumming right along with them. The Cards lead the National League Championship Series three games to two, with Game 6 scheduled for Friday at 5:30 p.m. in St. Louis.
The Cardinals trot out Game 1 winner and 21-year-old rookie Michael Wacha, making the 12th start of his big league career, which began four days before Yasiel Puig's. Wacha's won four regular season games and two in this, his only postseason, in which he sports a 0.64 earned run average.
In countering the Dodgers will place their shoulder to the wheel, grab the bull by the horns and put their best pitcher forward. Everyone's best pitcher, actually; one Clayton Edward Kershaw. You know all about him so I won't recite his numbers one more time. If you don't, well, shame on you, but feast your eyes here.
I'll just add that Kersh's 2013 postseason ERA stands at 0.47 — that's one earned in 19 innings, if you're scoring — and continue to state and restate as I did on Opening Day that all Kershaw, Koufax comparisons are on the table. The table is set with a lily-white table cloth, Dodger Blue china, bright blue napkins to match, and Silver Slugger sterling silver, the latter of which went un-purchased when The Main Squeeze and I were registered at MLB.com in 2008. Red-numbered 22 and 32 for the place cards.
The Cards need a single victory; the Dodgers need two. It's as simple as that. Busch Stadium will be rocking as loud (and probably louder) than L.A.'s place was, with 46,000 fans in their seats early, and armed with freebie white towels that Cardinals players think suck, unless of course it's their stadium staff who distributes them.
Perhaps the Dodgers will save Hanley Ramirez for one well-timed late-inning swing, as logic would dictate, with Nick Punto replacing him at shortstop. Maybe St. Louis will struggle against left-handed pitching as they have for most of the year, but I still worry plenty about what righties Matt Holliday and Yadier Molina, (slumping though he may be) and switcher Carlos Beltran might do with an off speed pitch left hanging an inch more over the plate than Mr. Kershaw would like.
Because all it takes is one swing on one single solitary pitch, from anyone who takes the Missouri mound during the next couple of nights, to send one team to the World Series, and the other to a winter of discontent.
Should Los Angeles get the W from Kershaw tomorrow, it's Hyun-Jin Ryu versus Adam Wainwright in Game 7 Saturday at 5:30. Wainwright will be a little nervous, Ryu will be very nervous, you and I may be more nervous than either of the two, and there's not a man or woman alive who can tell you how it'll all play out.
Welcome to playoff baseball, ladies and gentleman of the City of Dodgers.
As is almost always the case, Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci sums up current events as well as can possibly be, with Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports adding his perspective on the NLCS, and about Adrian Gonzalez in particular.
Here's a fun piece from Todd Radom about the genesis of the red-letter numbers on the Dodgers unis.
And a personal recommendation to spend some time listening to the play-by-play of Jon Sciambi. He's doing the ESPN Radio call of the American League Championship Series, and he's just great. I can see him replacing Vin Scully one day.