ST. LOUIS — Is this not why Cardinals GM John Mozeliak greenlit a trade July 31st that sent two of the most popular players on the roster – Allen Craig and Joe Kelly – to Boston for veteran right handed pitcher John Lackey? Is this not exactly what he had in mind?
Seven innings of work and one run allowed against one of the most dangerous offenses in all of baseball. That’s what Mozeliak had in mind. Lackey was the driving force behind the Cards 3-1 win over the Dodgers in Game 3, which puts them a win away of heading back to the NLCS for the fourth year in a row.
Lackey’s earned a reputation for being a big game pitcher over the course of his career with the Angles, Red Sox and now Cardinals. He says the reason for that is quite simple.
“There’s definitely a different energy and a different adrenaline level (in the playoffs),” Lackey said. “That can take you to special places when you use it the right way. The atmosphere was great and the fans were unbelievable. You feel that. You feed off that. If you channel (that energy) the right way it can definitely help you out.”
“Lackey’s great,” Trevor Rosenthal said. “Ever since he got here, and you could see it playing against him last year in the World Series the type of competitor he is. He’s like a Wainwright or a Lance Lynn; the guys that just go out there and compete. It what he does, and it’s a lot of fun to watch.”
Lackey held the Dodgers to just 5 hits and walked one while striking out eight. He went toe-to-toe with LA’s Hyun-Jin Ryu for the majority of the game, although some on the opposing side thought Lackey got a little bit more help than he should have gotten.
“I thought (home plate umpire) Dale (Scott) was very generous,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. “We had a lot of guys complaining about the strike zone, and we felt like he was really generous. And it puts you in a bind. You keep giving pitches, changing counts. Obviously, you can’t go too far with it.”
Matt Kemp also told reporters after the game the strike zone was “terrible” and he’s “never seen anything like it”. Several graphs with pitch locations seem to show several of Scott’s calls outside of the strike zone were indeed called strikes.
But that’s over and done with. The Cardinals now have a chance to finish off the Dodgers for the second consecutive year – at Busch Stadium no less.