Look for another pitchers’ duel in game six of the National League Division Series Friday in St. Louis between the hometown Cardinals and the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Offensively, the Cardinals and Dodgers did show signs of life in game five of this series. The clubs combined for 10 runs and 19 hits – not to mention four home runs. But even with that bust out, St. Louis is still hitting .178 and Los Angeles is batting .234 for the series. Key in whether those overall numbers or the two team’s most recent contest’s relatively high-scoring affair will predict performance in game six is the varying locations of the two contests (the high-scorer was at Dodger Stadium, while this game is at Busch Stadium).
Neither ballpark is known as hitters’ venues. In fact, Dodger Stadium ranked 28th and Busch Stadium placed 25th (out of thirty teams) in terms of run scoring, according to MLB Park Factors. But the big difference will come in terms of the weather. The game in Los Angeles occurred in the afternoon, under clear skies and 28 Celsius (82 degrees Fahrenheit) temperatures. These are particularly fine conditions for hitters (as well as pitchers – but I believe in that game the hitters were more advantaged). Tonight’s game will be between 25 and 40 degrees colder (in Fahrenheit) and there is a chance of rain.
Considering the pitchers who are getting the call for this game – Clayton Kershaw for the Dodgers and Michael Wacha for the Cardinals – these will be tough hitting conditions for batters on both teams. The reason: these two pitchers are dominating and their skills are such that they’ll likely weather the tougher conditions better than the batters they’re facing.
Kershaw, who went 16-9 with a National League-best 1.83 ERA, has been excellent in the post-season. In game two of this series he completely shut down St. Louis, going six innings while allowing just two hits and zero earned runs. Although he was on the road, he didn’t seem to have any problems at Busch Stadium. Wacha, who actually got the win in that game two, was every bit Kershaw’s match. He lasted 6 2/3 innings, conceding no runs and five hits, while striking out eight.
Best bet: Considering the weather, the overall performance of the hitters in this series and the pitchers throwing, look at taking under 5.5 runs at 2.00.