The Los Angeles Dodgers and St Louis Cardinals go head-to-head as the end of the season gets ever nearer.
The Dodgers have already reached the playoffs and will be ranked number one in the National League while the St. Louis Cardinals are in a battle for the NL Central title, which they are can be backed at -20000 to win.
|What||Los Angeles Dodgers v St.Louis Cardinals, Game One of Three|
|Where||Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles, California|
|When||22.10 EDT September 23; 03:10 BST 24th September|
|How to watch||Apple TV+|
|Odds||LA Dodgers -170, Cardinals +150|
The Los Angeles Dodgers clinched their ninth National League West title in 10 seasons with a 4-0 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks last week.
Of all the Dodgers’ recent division titles, this one appeared to be the most dominant. They have the best run differential in franchise history (+325) and are seeking to become the first team since the 2001 Seattle Mariners to clear the 300-run mark in that category.
This season’s clinch took just 141 games, the shortest time to clinch during this club’s prodigious run of titles. The Dodgers will certainly beat their franchise record of 106 wins, both set in 2019 and 2021.
The Dodgers’ dominant pitching staff has carried the torch for baseball’s best team. All this without their Opening Day starter, Walker Buehler, who saw his season end in June.
Their top reliever, Blake Treinen, has appeared in just five games all year and the rest of their bullpen has been a juggling act of injured arms. Their former MVP in Cody Bellinger has been the least productive hitter in the line-up, and their most consistent left-handed slugger from a year ago, didn’t get going until August.
Prior to the Cardinals grabbing a run at the top of the fifth inning in Thursday night’s game against the San Diego Padres, the Cardinals had gone three games without getting a single run, four games inside nine innings. Thanks to Lars Nootbar’s single, the Cards finally got on the board with a run. For months prior to this poor spell of run-getting the Cardinals offense was stacked with such talent.
For the first few months of the season, Paul Goldschmidt was a genuine contender for the National League MVP, even tipping his hat into the triple crown ring. Nolan Arenado was a dominant piece of the Cardinals juggernaut and the rest played at a high level.
These last few weeks have seen the Cardinals struggle at the plate. Cardinals manager Oli Marmol pleaded patience with worried supporters, telling MLB.com: “I’ll be honest with you, I have a ton of confidence in them and they have a ton of confidence in themselves. I know I keep repeating this, but I’m concerned zero.”
The Dodgers won a three-match series 2-1 against the Cardinals earlier in the season at Busch Stadium. Los Angeles also won the best of seven-games last season 4-3.
As it stands in the playoff picture, the Cardinals would avoid the Dodgers until a potential meeting in the National League Championship series.
The Cards would play the Philadelphia Phillies in a three-game Wild Card series, while the Dodgers would jump straight to the Division series and may end up playing the winner of the San Diego Padres and Atlanta Braves. Certainly no gimme for LA, but there are a lot of things to play out first.
The veteran batter is closing in on 700 home runs in his career. Pujols is 42 and near the end of his incredible career. He has three MVP awards and won two World Series.
It’s been a renaissance for Pujols since he returned to the Cardinals in his final season. If he played for one more season then there is a good chance he would beat Babe Ruth’s home run record of 714.
Speaking to the official St. Louis Cardinals website, Pujols recently said: “I don’t regret anything about my career. It’s been a great journey, and I’ve enjoyed every bit of it. Now, my focus is just on finishing strong. What a blessing to come back here (to St. Louis) and enjoy what I’m doing.
“I’ve accomplished so much more than I ever would have thought I’d accomplish in baseball and in my life. All the glory goes to the Lord for giving me this opportunity to play baseball every day.”