What happened on this cool autumn night, then, was beyond silly and beyond the bounds of imagination. The Cardinals pummeled Kershaw, knocking the great lefty from the game in the fifth inning and romping to a 9-0 victory in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series. The Cardinals, who fell one win shy a year ago, are in the World Series for the second time in three years and the fourth time in the past decade.
“Winning is a tradition [here]. Winning is an expectation,” Cardinals Manager Mike Matheny said. “We’ve got one more step here, and it’s a big one.”
Kershaw, who by this time next month almost certainly will own his second Cy Young Award at the age of 25, was bashed for four runs in an interminable third inning and three more in the fifth (when he failed to record an out) — more runs than he had allowed in his previous seven starts combined. The Dodgers, who gave Kershaw almost no help defensively, never really had a chance.
“There’s no way to explain it,” Kershaw said. “Just one of those games.”
And so the 2013 Dodgers joined the 2013 Pirates, the 2012 Nationals, the 2011 Rangers, the 2011 Brewers, the 2011 Phillies, the 2006 Tigers, the 2006 Mets, the 2006 Padres, the 2005 Padres, the 2004 Astros and the 2004 Dodgers as teams whose postseason dreams had been snuffed out by the Cardinals over the past decade.
Rookie right-hander Michael Wacha, in his 12th big league start, beat Kershaw for the second time this series, delivering seven scoreless innings and winning most valuable player honors. Wacha, 22, gave way to setup man Carlos Martinez, 22, who pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning. Closer Trevor Rosenthal, 23, retired the side in order in the ninth. All three Cardinals pitchers are rookies.
Right fielder Carlos Beltran, who will make his first World Series appearance in his 16th big league season, had three hits and drove in a pair of runs — his grace and poise a striking contrast to his opposite number, Dodgers rookie right fielder Yasiel Puig, who chucked balls all over the yard and went 0 for 3 with two strikeouts at the plate.
“Today when I woke up, I had the feeling we were going to do it,” Beltran said.
This was a series that almost uniformly went against conventional wisdom. Aces Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Adam Wainwright — with two Cy Young Awards and two runner-up finishes among them — made a total of five starts in the series and won exactly once.