10/04/09 3:29 PM EST
Cardinals know Dodgers will be ready
St. Louis outscored NL West champs in regular season
By B.J. Rains / MLB.com
St. Louis found out late Saturday night where it was headed to start the playoffs after the Dodgers clinched the NL West title with a 5-0 victory over the Rockies.
"They've got some guys in the lineup that can swing it," said reliever Kyle McClellan before Sunday's regular-season finale against the Brewers. "And they got some guys in the rotation kind of like ours, where you feel confident when they go out there and take the mound. It's going to be a real good matchup. We played well against them during the regular season, but the postseason is totally different.
"They are going to be ready. ... You saw what [Clayton] Kershaw did last night in a big game, so they will be ready. I don't think they are getting down because we played well against them. Everything is out the window come Wednesday."
The Cardinals outscored the Dodgers, 31-19, in the seven games that included a thrilling 3-2, 15-inning win on July 29 at Busch Stadium. St. Louis rallied to the tie the game both in the ninth and 11th innings before an Albert Pujols walk-off single in the 15th gave the Redbirds the win.
"Most of the year they have been very tough to score on, beginning of the game or late in the game," said manager Tony La Russa. "They have some young talented guys who are in their third or fourth years and are real game changers, plus they have very good veterans with [Casey] Blake and Manny [Ramirez] and those guys. It's a really good club."
St. Louis will have the ultimate equalizer for opening on the road with NL Cy Young Award hopefuls Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright scheduled to start Games 1 and 2 in Los Angeles. Carpenter went 17-4 with a league-best 2.24 ERA after missing almost all of 2007 and 2008 with arm injuries.
Wainwright won a league-high 19 games and had a stellar 2.63 ERA as well. The two will try to help St. Louis steal home-field advantage from the Dodgers before bringing the series back to St. Louis for Games 3 and 4.
"We'd love a quiet Dodger Stadium," said Los Angeles native Brendan Ryan.
But despite the Dodgers' recent struggles down the stretch, they will still enter the playoffs with the most wins in the National League.
As Ryan said, the Cardinals know they will be in for a dog fight.
"You don't just steal that many wins," Ryan said. "It's going to be tough."
B.J. Rains is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.