The Los Angeles Dodgers stunned the St. Louis Cardinals as the Dodgers Chris Taylor hit a walk-off home run against the Cardinals Alex Reyes in the ninth inning of the Wild Card Game on Wednesday night. The game was close all night as Max Scherzer did not fully seem to be on his game. Adam Wainwright was spectacular. Both only gave up one run, however. The Cardinals left 24 runners on base. The Dodgers left 13 runners on base. It was a pitching duel, to say the least. But Dodgers pitching won out the night, albeit slightly.
Max Scherzer Versus Adam Wainwright
Prior to the Dodgers’ walk-off in the ninth against the Cardinals, there was a pitching duel between both starting pitchers. The results of the duel were strange. Scherzer averaged 1.8 walks per nine innings during the season, but he walked three Cardinal batters in 4 1/3 innings. That is 6.6 walks per nine innings for the Wild Card Game. Scherzer struck out 11.8 batters per nine innings during the regular season. On Wednesday, he struck out four Cardinals in his 4 1/3 innings, which is 8.8 strikeouts per nine innings. In other words, Scherzer’s command was not where it was normally at during the regular season. This was apparent from the start of the game.
Sherzer allowed three hits. It should be said that Scherzer’s hits allowed were barely above his regular-season average at 6.6 during the Wild Card Game versus his league-leading 6.0 hits per nine innings during the regular season. So add Scherzer’s three hits allowed with his three walks allowed and his WHIP was 1.463 during the Wild Card Game, which is sky high for him. Mad Max led all of baseball with a 0.864 WHIP during the regular season, so it must have been scary to witness such a game for Dodgers fans. Having said that, there is something Max Scherzer did not do: he did not give up a lot of runs. Scherzer only gave up one run during his 4 1/3 innings, which amounts to an ERA of 2.08. This is lower than his season’s ERA of 2.97 but higher than his ERA since joining the Dodgers of 1.96.
Adam Wainwright Pitches a Gem
Like Max Scherzer, Adam Wainwright only gave up one run during his performance. But Wainwright seemed to be more on his game all night than Scherzer did. Adam’s command was there and he struck more batters out than usual. During the season, Wainwright averaged 7.6 strikeouts per nine innings. But during the Wild Card Game, Wainwright struck out five Dodgers in 5 1/3 innings. That amounts to 8.8 strikeouts per nine innings. Adam gave up four hits in his 5 1/3 innings, which amounts to 7.1 hits per nine innings. During the regular season, Wainwright allowed 7.3 hits per nine innings, so he was under his par during the Wild Card Game.
Wainwright also walked two Dodgers during the game, which amounts to 3.5 walks per nine innings and is higher than his norm during the season. His regular-season average was 2.2 walks per nine innings. This means that his WHIP was also higher than his season average. His WHIP during the game was 1.176 while his WHIP during the season was only 1.057. But Adam’s ERA was only 1.69 during the game, which was less than his season ERA of 3.05. In other words, Wainwright had a great game. In fact, all the pitchers seemingly had great games all the way up until the ninth inning – and it was really one pitch that sealed the deal for the Dodgers.
Taylor Homers, Dodgers Walk off Cardinals
With the game tied in the ninth inning, T.J. McFarland came in to pitch. Albert Pujols came up to bat first, pinch-hitting for Gavin Lux. This was a stressful at-bat for everyone. Pujols spent the first 11 years of his career with the Cardinals, where he became a legend. He was the Rookie of the Year and won three MVP awards in St. Louis. He won six silver sluggers and two Gold Gloves there as well. He received MVP votes in each of his 11 seasons as a Cardinal. But Wednesday was not the night for Pujols as he quickly lined out to center field. Then Steven Souza, Jr. came up to bat, pinch-hitting for Billy McKinney. He also eventually lined out.
Bellinger came up to bat and all Dodgers fans were hoping for a walk-off homer. But Bellinger ultimately walked and Alex Reyes relieved McFarland. Then Chris Taylor stepped up to the plate. A double in the gap could score Belli and end the game. Taylor did not start the game because he finished the season struggling at the plate. In his final 26 games of the season, Taylor went 8-for-72 at the plate. During that stretch, he had a batting average of .111 with 30 strikeouts. Bellinger quickly stole second base during Taylor’s at-bat. Taylor then only needed a well-placed single to drive in Bellinger. With two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, Taylor became the hero for the Dodgers when he smashed the pitch from McFarland over the left-field wall and into the Pavillion bleachers, thus rubber-stamping the ticket to San Francisco’s NLDS series beginning on Friday.
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