Carlos Beltran entered Game 1 of the National League Championship Series against the Dodgers a lifetime .345/.453/.761 hitter in the postseason. There was more of the same at the plate from Beltran on Friday, with some wonderful defense sprinkled in.
The Cardinals needed every bit of it in a game that saw just about everyone not sporting No. 15 on their backs struggle mightily against the Dodgers' pitching staff. Of course, it wasn't easy to hit when Dodgers starter Zack Greinke was mixing in pitches like this:
Still, Beltran mustered up the strength to pound a two-run double over the head of Dodgers centerfielder Andre Ethier to force a 2-2 tie after three innings. Beltran's hit ensured Juan Uribe, who has posted impressive recent numbers of his own in the postseason, wouldn't be the hero after getting the scoring started with a two-run single in the top of the third.
In fact, it appeared nobody wanted to be the hero, especially offensively. The top of the fourth was the beginning of a stretch of 10 innings in which nobody crossed the plate. Naturally, good defense played a major part in the scoring drought.
Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig went 0-for-6 at the plate, but this play in the bottom of the seventh helped the Dodgers remain tied for several more innings:
After the game entered extra innings, the Dodgers got themselves into a great opportunity to score the game-winning run. But, remember that Beltran guy? Yeah, he did this:
That's right; Beltran called off centerfielder Jon Jay, caught Michael Young's pop-up and fired to the plate to get Mark Ellis, who was only standing on third base because Jay allowed him to get there as a result of a misplayed line drive.
It's hard to tell whether or not Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina actually applied a tag to Ellis, who says it was "obvious" he was out, but when the ball beats you by that much, how much of an argument do you really have?
The Dodgers had three more chances to get a runner home from scoring position, but each time, the boys in blue failed to execute. That set the stage for Beltran, who ripped a 3-1 cutter from Kenley Jansen down the right field line to score Daniel Descalso and give the Cards a walk-off win in the bottom of the 13th.