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Ryu Returns For Redbirds Rematch

Matthew Tufts, Jodee Sullivan |
October 6, 2014 | 12:50 a.m. PDT

MLB Columnists

In contrast to the sweeps by both the Royals and Orioles, and the Giants dominant 2-0 start, the NLDS between the Dodgers and the Cardinals—tied 1-1—looks like it could go either way. The Dodgers entered with home field advantage, but an all-too-familiar shellacking of Clayton Kershaw in Game 1 sent the series to the Gateway City in St. Louis' favor.

The Dodgers will send Hyun-Jin Ryu (14-7, 3.38) to the mound as they seek a 2-1 series lead. Ryu, a consistent force when healthy, hasn’t thrown in a game since September 12 due to shoulder inflammation. However, a successful simulated game last Wednesday implies that he should be good to go for Game 3.

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The Cardinals meanwhile, will put the ball in the hands of October pitching legend John Lackey (14-10, 3.82). The right-handed workhorse was acquired in a deadline deal with the Red Sox, and has the experience of two championship clinching World Series wins under his belt.

Both teams see tonight as a must-win; with a victory, the Dodgers will look to close out the series with Kershaw tomorrow. The Cardinals meanwhile, aim to end the festivities at home and keep the series from heading back to Los Angeles for a potential Game 5.

If history has shown us anything, pitching will likely dictate the outcome. If Ryu pitches in any way similar to his performance against the Cards last postseason--shutting them down for zero runs over seven innings--the Dodgers have a chance at stealing Game 3 in St. Louis. However, Game 1 was a stark reminder that sound pitching is far from guaranteed in October.

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On the offensive front, the Dodgers need their key players to remain hot against Lackey. Matt Kemp will need to bring the momentum from his game-winning, eighth-inning home run in Game 2 and share it with the rest of the team. That said, the heart of the lineup will need to crank out base hits and get men aboard without trying to do too much. The Dodgers offense functions best in small-ball situations.

The Cardinals on the otherhand, need to find an answer to their untimely hitting. The Redbirds left runners in scoring position with less than two outs three times in Game 2. Only one of them crossing home plate could have made the difference in the one-run loss.

St. Louis may be one of baseball's most passionate atmospheres. Cards' fans know October baseball is a staple in their city, and the team has the veteran presence to make a deep-run in the postseason. But if Ryu and his offense are firing on all cylinders, the Dodgers will be a tough team to beat—even amidst a sea of red-clad fans in St. Louis.

You can contact reporter Jodee Sullivan here or follow her on Twitter.

You can contact senior sports editor Matthew Tufts here or follow him on Twitter.



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