(BaseballStL) -- There’s a lot to soak in from the Cardinals’ NLCS clinching 9-0 victory over the Dodgers on Friday.
There’s the Michael Wacha storyline. The 22-year-old was rightfully named the NLCS MVP for out-dueling the likely CY Young winner, Clayton Kershaw, not once but twice in a matter of a week.
There’s the Carlos Beltran storyline. He FINALLY gets to taste what the World Series is all about after 16 years and after shouldering the offensive load in an offensively-challenged series.
There’s the Shane Robinson storyline. A bench reserve steps up to go 2-for-4 with a couple of key RBI in the clincher and two games since collecting his first postseason hit, a home run.
But then there was another storyline that might get overlooked with time, and one that I didn’t give enough credit to until my girlfriend mentioned it.
“How many pitches did Matt Carpenter have in that one at-bat?” Nicole, my better half, asked.
How did I let that moment, probably the key moment in Friday’s win, slip past me?
The answer is 11. That’s 11 pitches of Kershaw’s 98 total that were thrown in one single at-bat. Two were called balls, pitch No. 1 and No. 9 of the at-bat. One was put into play as eight were fouled off. No swings-and-misses on any pitch.
That third-inning at-bat ended up being the beginning of the end of an offensive funk for the Cardinals offense, which scored only 12 runs through the first five games of the series.
“He kept coming after me making pitches,” Carpenter said. “He made quality pitch after quality pitch. I kept fouling it off. I finally got the count back to even and he left a slider out over the front that I could handle and hit it down the line.”
Carpenter’s one-out double down the right field line sparked a four-run third inning to give St. Louis the first lead of the game, and a lead it wouldn’t give up.
Beltran singled Carpenter home to score for the game’s first run as Kershaw was outworked and outmatched in the 48-pitch inning.
Kershaw’s end wouldn’t come until the fifth inning, but it began in the third.
“I told Chris Carpenter I think that was the key at-bat of the whole game,” Adam Wainwright said. “Michael (Wacha) gets up, works him pretty tough and gets an out in the first at-bat. If (Kershaw) gets two outs, nobody on it’s going to be tough to score that inning. He worked him, worked, worked him, fouled off some really tough pitches...the rest is history.”
Scott Bierman covers the Cardinals for KMOV.com and the BaseballStL mobile app. You can follow him on Twitter @Scott_Bierman for news and updates.