Cardinals crush Kershaw, win NLCS

AP Photo/David J. Phillip

The St. Louis Cardinals celebrate their Game 6 blowout victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday night.

In what was supposed to be a pitcher’s duel, the St. Louis Cardinals hung seven runs on MLB ERA-leader Clayton Kershaw to advance to the World Series. The 9-0 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers was tied for the fourth-largest shutout win in a series-clinching game in postseason history.

Kershaw was never able to get going as it took him 81 pitches to get through three innings compared to 72 pitches for six innings in Game 2. In the third inning alone, Kershaw gave up four runs, matching the total from his first 21 innings this postseason. Elias tells us in that inning, the Cardinals became the first team to bat around against Kershaw since the Arizona Diamondbacks did so in 2009.

Friday marked the first time since April 5, 2012 that Kershaw failed to make it five innings in a start. He became the first pitcher since David Wells in 2002 to allow seven or more earned runs in fewer than five innings in a postseason clincher.

The Dodgers have now lost three-straight League Championship Series, all within the last six seasons.

Meanwhile, Cardinals’ rookie Michael Wacha showed up for his part of the pitcher’s duel. After throwing seven scoreless innings, he became the fourth rookie in history to win the deciding game of the LCS.

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How was Wacha so effective?

• Good changeup: 78.3 percent of his changeups were down, his highest percentage in a start this season. Dodgers hitters were 1-for-7 with two strikeouts on such pitches.

• Tough with two strikes: he threw his fastball 14 times with two strikes. Hitters were 0-for-8 in those at-bats Friday and just 1-for-16 with six strikeouts in the series.

Elias says, Wacha became the first rookie in history to record two scoreless starts in a single postseason series. He also became the third rookie ever to win the LCS MVP.

The Cardinals advance to their 19th World Series appearance all-time, tied for most in NL history (with San Francisco Giants) and second in MLB history (behind New York Yankees). It’s their fourth World Series appearance in the last 10 postseasons, the most of any team in that span.