Cards stun Dodgers to make World Series
With the red-clad crowd roaring more loudly with every pitch, Matt Carpenter became more determined to get a hit and help lead the St Louis Cardinals back to the World Series.
On Clayton Kershaw's 11th offering, Carpenter lined a double to right field. It turned out to be the start of something really big.
Carlos Beltran followed with another key hit in a four-run third inning that stunned the Dodgers ace, Michael Wacha was again magnificent on the mound and St Louis advanced to its second World Series in three seasons by roughing up Los Angeles 9-0 in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series.
"I'm so happy right now. We did it as a team," Beltran said. "We fought hard, we worked hard all season long and thank God we're here."
Wacha, 22, was selected MVP of the NLCS after throwing 13 2/3 scoreless innings and beating Kershaw twice in the series. The first rookie to win the award since Livan Hernandez in 1997 for the Marlins pitched seven innings of two-hit ball.
"We want to see it a few more times, a couple at least," manager Mike Matheny said.
With four runs in the third and five more in the fifth, the Cardinals quickly removed all the tension surrounding a team that squandered a 3-1 series lead in the NLCS last fall against San Francisco.
Game 1 of the World Series is on Wednesday at the winner of the American League Championship Series between the Boston Red Sox and Detroit Tigers. The Cardinals won their 19th NL pennant and will be trying for their third World Series title since 2006, having last won in 2011.
The glamorous Dodgers, with the second-highest payroll in baseball at $220 million, failed to reach the World Series for the first time since they won it all in 1988.
"Going through spring, the long season and then it just comes to a crash," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "So, it's disappointing for all of us."
After losing Game 5 in Los Angeles, the Cardinals turned to the 22-year-old Wacha once again. The right-hander was even better in outpitching Kershaw for the second time this series.
It was 52 degrees at game time, a 23-degree drop from the Kershaw-Wacha matchup in Game 2 six days earlier, and Kershaw never got warmed up.
The lefty wasn't in the mood to talk about a season in which he had a majors-best 1.83 ERA, either.
"If you don't win, what's the point?" Kershaw said. "It doesn't really matter. All this stuff."
The top NL CY Young Award candidate was knocked out of a start without finishing the fifth inning for the first time this season.
"I think the first time we faced him he was very tough," Beltran said. "This time he was a little off, but that doesn't mean anything."
Beltran, 36, had three hits, drove in two runs and made a spectacular catch in right field, helping him advance to the World Series for the first time in his 16-year career.