All they had to do Monday night was hold a two-run 9th inning lead to extend their series with the Phillies to a fifth game, but closer Huston Street blew it. The Rockies got the tying run on base in the bottom of the 9th, but couldn't push it across.
So the NL Championship, beginning Thursday night at Dodger Stadium, will be a rematch of last year's series. This year the outcome will be different. So stick that in your cheese steak sandwich. More on that later.
I don't really care who the Dodgers play, but if the Rockies had forced a fifth game in their series, the Phillies would've had to start Cole Hamels. Instead, he'll start Game 1 against the Dodgers. Hamels' wife just had their first baby last week, so maybe he'll be a wreck. If the Phils lose that first game, Uncle Charlie Manuel might be tempted to bring back Cliff Lee on short rest. The ace lefty pitched another great game Monday, giving up only one earned run in 7.1 innings.
As for the Dodgers, the only thing they have to worry about is getting too much rest and losing their edge. Having swept the Cards on Saturday, they will have four days off before Thursday's Game 1 vs. the Phillies. That's plenty of time for Joe Torre to work out his rotation. Right hander Hiroki Kuroda should be back for this series. It'll be interesting to see who starts Game 1. Randy Wolf started the first game against the Cards, but he wasn't sharp then, nor was he in his previous start in the Dodgers' final regular season series when they were trying to clinch the division against the Rockies.
Clayton Kershaw, who's been pitching great, is the actual ace at the moment. But does Torre have that kind of faith in the 21-year-old? And who will be the fourth starter? Based on his Game 3 performance against against the Cards, Vicente Padilla deserves a shot. But where does that leave erstwhile ace Chad Billingsley? Jon Garland looks destined for long relief.
In any case, the Dodger youngsters have another year of seasoning under their belts. And they have a couple of key additions since last year, namely Ronnie Belliard and Mark Loretta. The defending world champs won't go down easy, but the Dodgers will beat the Phillies and advance to the World Series. You read it here first.
–Because MLB has to assume every series could go the distance, the AL matchup between the Yankees and the Angels won't begin until Friday, giving them four days between games as well. The Yanks have the home field advantage and they'll send out C.C. Sabathia against John Lackey. Go Angels!
–A couple of readers, St. Louis fans I assume, have taken umbrage with my comment that Matt Holliday is a goner. Well, USA Today reports that it may take a $100 million deal to keep the free agent slugger. Keep poundin' that Budweiser, Cards fans. As for manager Tony LaRussa, he may not be back either. The 65-year-old skipper is at the end of his contract. If both sides agree he should return, one sticking point might be LaRussa's insistence that the team pick up his considerable hair dye bill.
Read what the other cities are saying about their teams:
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