Carlos Beltran beats the Dodgers: NLCS Game 1 Quick hits
A marathon Game 1 of the NLCS between the Dodgers and Cardinals is in the books, so let's break it down in Quick Hits fashion.
Without question, Carlos Beltran’s two-out, two-run double off a Zack Greinke two-seamer in the third inning changed the tenor of the game. (As previously noted, it elicited much impassioned screaming by the locals.) Sure, Beltran went “just” 2-for-6 on the night, but that one hit was, to indulge in questionable prose, hugely huge. More to the point, when Beltran’s double eluded the glove of Andre Ethier (see above), the Cardinals’ chances of winning, per FanGraphs, increased from 30.3 percent to 53.7 percent. Like I said: Hugely huge.
And then? And then in the 10th came what will quite possibly be remembered in Cardinal lore as "The Throw."
So, yeah, your hero for Game 1 is Carlos Beltran. No debate permitted.
Goat: Yasiel Puig. The horns are not particularly long for this particular game, but Mr. Puig shall wear them. Yes, he turned a nifty and critical-at-the-time 9-9-3 double play in the seventh, but he also went 0-for-6 at the plate with two strikeouts, only one ball hit out of the infield (the exception being a tepid pop-up to shallow right in the 13th) and a whopping seven runners left on base. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly also was goat-worthy, but his night will be addressed elsewhere within these pages.
Turning point: It’s not so much a turning point as it is a turning span of time, but when Joe Kelly settled down after Beltran tied it up, the Cardinals took control in a sense even though they of course didn’t have the lead. After that third inning, in which Kelly gave up a pair of runs in the top half, he permitted no more scores and retired nine of the 11 batters he faced. The way Kelly looked early, it seemed certain the Dodgers would hang a big number on him before running him. That, however, never happened.
It was over when: It wasn't over until it was actually, certifiably over -- when Beltran notched his walk-off single. In a sense, though, you felt the beginning of the end when Matt Carpenter drew the one-out walk and pushed Daniel Descalso into scoring position.
Next: The Dodgers and Cardinals will cross swords again on Saturday in Game 2. Clayton Kershaw will oppose Michael Wacha in what could be a superlative pitcher’s duel. First pitch is slated for 4:07 pm EST, 3:07 pm local time.