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October 13, 2013

Playoff Prospectus

NLCS Game Two Recap: Cardinals 1, Dodgers 0

by Ben Lindbergh


It took the Tigers three hours and 56 minutes to win 1-0 in nine innings in the Saturday night game. Earlier in the day, St. Louis accomplished the same in two hours and 40 minutes.

Cardinals starter Michael Wacha needed 24 pitches to get through the top of the first, and Matt Carpenter led off the bottom half of the inning with a triple off Clayton Kershaw. After that, though, it was mostly smooth sailing for both starters. Wacha was relatively economical from the second through the seventh; Kershaw stranded Carpenter, and he and the two relievers who followed him combined to allow only one hit over the final seven frames.

Wacha’s average time between pitches of 19.6 seconds during the regular season was seventh lowest in the NL (minimum 60 innings), which contributed to the game’s rapid pace. But the shadows that crept across the field at Busch Stadium after the 3:00 PM CT start time probably played a part.

It’s hard enough to hit Wacha and Kershaw when the ball is bright enough to spot the spin. When the entire infield is in shadow—or worse, when the ball passes in an out of a sliver of shadow between the pitcher’s mound and home plate—their pitches are even tougher to pick up.

Complaints about shadows are nothing new in the postseason, when national broadcast networks schedule unusual start times. “It’s hard to hit when you can’t see the ball, when you can’t see the spin of the ball particularly,” Matt Holliday said during last year’s Division Series. “But I’m not surprised. It happens every year.” The October before, it was Albert Pujols: “You can’t see it. You almost feel like somebody is throwing a resin bag. My second at-bat it went from the light to the shadows and I’m like, ‘Where’s the ball?’”

Two Octobers before that, Mike Scioscia said, “If you have a guy who’s a real hard thrower with crisp breaking stuff and you put him in the shadows, it will amplify his stuff.” As it happens, both St. Louis and Los Angeles had guys like that in Game Two. And both offenses suffered for it, even though the fielders also seemed to have some similar trouble reading the ball off the bat.

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<< Previous Article
Premium Article Minor League Update: A... (10/13)
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Playoff Prospectus: NL... (10/12)
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Premium Article Playoff Prospectus: AL... (10/13)
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Premium Article Playoff Prospectus: AL... (10/13)

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