I only booked a one-way ticket to St. Louis. This was done out of sheer practicality, not out of any superstitious attempt to ensure that the Dodgers will win both of these games and advance to the World Series, but it’s kind of a strange feeling. Logically, I know I’m going to get on an airplane at Lambert Airport in St. Louis at some point in the next two or three days and go somewhere other than here, but right now, I’m here, and I don’t have a ticket anywhere. So I feel kind of like I’m stranded. But really, if you’re going to be stranded, what better place to be stranded than at the National League Championship Series, and what a compelling NLCS this has become over the course of the first five games.
Game 6 may be the most compelling of all, at least as we sit here now, a few minutes before it starts. The Dodgers have the one pitcher they would want on the mound more than any other in a do-or-die game in Clayton Kershaw. And now, they have their most important offensive player, Hanley Ramirez, as well. He was added to the lineup about 35 minutes before first pitch, which kind of leads you to wonder if they knew all day that he was going to play and just kept it a secret. He didn’t even take batting practice.
Here is the new Dodgers lineup:
Carl Crawford LF
Mark Ellis 2B
Adrian Gonzalez 1B
Hanley Ramirez SS
Andre Ethier RF
Yasiel Puig RF
Juan Uribe 3B
A.J. Ellis C
Clayton Kershaw LH
By the way, tonight will be the first truly cold-weather game of this postseason. The afternoon high here was supposed to be around 63, which means it’s going to get plumb cold, as we used to say back home, as the evening wears on. Might be interesting to see how the warm-weather Dodgers respond to that, but really, the Cardinals haven’t played in cold weather for several months either, so it’s probably a wash.
If the Dodgers can pull this out tonight, the first six games will have been a wash, as well, and we will all gear up for a winner-take-all Game 7 tomorrow night. But the Dodgers can’t get there until they take care of business tonight. For the Dodgers, this is no longer a series. It’s a game. One game. Tonight’s game.