MORE: Game 6 boxscore
ST. LOUIS -- Game 6 of the NLCS between the Cardinals and Dodgers can be accurately described as a "ritual beating." Despite facing the soon-to-be NL Cy Young winner, the Cardinals battered the visitors by a score of 9-0, and in doing so have advanced to the World Series to face either the Tigers or Red Sox.
Now let's break down the final game of the 2013 NLCS ...
Hero: Michael Wacha. The 22-year-old rookie right-hander couldn't possibly keep this going could he? He couldn't again go blow-for-blow with the Cy Young winner in waiting, could he? Well, he did that and then some. Against the Dodgers, Wacha worked seven innings, allowed no runs on two hits, struck out five, walked one, located 63 of his 95 pitches for strikes and recorded seven ground-outs. All this against an offense that in 2013 thrived against right-handers and thrived on the road. But they didn't in Game 6.
Goat: The Dodgers. All of them. It wasn't a lack of effort or focus or desire or anything like that. Sometimes you just get beat and beat badly. So it was with the Dodgers on Friday night. Clayton Kershaw allowed his most runs in a start (seven) since July 24 of last year, when he allowed eight to … the Cardinals. Yasiel Puig went hitless at the plate and endured an awful night in the field. The Dodgers mustered just two hits at the plate, and circumstances were such that Don Mattingly was compelled to intentionally walk Pete Kozma … twice. When you get rolled like this with your ace of aces on the mound and facing elimination, it's a team-wide failure.
Turning point: Clayton Kershaw was at 33 pitches after two innings and showing spotty command of his breaking stuff. So when Matt Carpenter, with one out in the third, fouled off eight pitches before finally doubling on the 11th pitch of the at-bat, you had a feeling it wasn't vintage Kershaw on the mound. Indeed, the Carpenter struggle seemed to take something out of Kershaw, as the Cardinals went on to bat around that inning and put four runs on the board.
It was over when: When Matt Adams, in the bottom of the fifth, smacked an opposite-field double, it pushed the lead to 5-0, set up the Cardinals with runners on second and third and no outs and forced Kershaw from the game. It would get worse from there from the Dodgers' standpoint, but that was when it was effectively over.
Next: The Dodgers head home for the winter, and the Cardinals advance to play either the Tigers or Red Sox in the World Series, where they'll seek their second championship in the last three seasons and 12th title overall.