MLB Notebook: Two aces win NLDS openers
Cardinals' Wainwright fans nine and Dodgers' Kershaw K's 12 in GM 1 victories
From 1903-2012, 11 pitchers enjoyed a Game 1 start that featured at least nine strikeouts and no more than three hits allowed. And really, there are no surprising names on the list -- all 11 make sense; reflect a sense of, "That fits."
For the record, this group -- which grew by two with Thursday's efforts from the Cardinals' Adam Wainwright and the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw -- starts with Allie Reynolds in 1949 and works its way up through history, collecting Dave McNally, Kevin Brown, Orlando Hernandez, Curt Schilling, Randy Johnson, Josh Beckett, Kerry Wood, Cole Hamels, Tim Lincecum and Justin Verlander.
2013 National League Division Series: Pirates at Cardinals
The Cardinals used a seven-run third inning to support a stellar effort from Wainwright, and defeated the Pirates 9-1, to take a 1-0 lead in their NLDS matchup.
• Wainwright improved to 2-0 in five career postseason starts. With nine strikeouts in this contest, Wainwright raised his postseason total to 51, the third most in Cardinals history. Bob Gibson leads with 92 and Chris Carpenter has fanned 68. With Thursday's effort, Wainwright broke out of a tie with John Tudor and passed Matt Morris (44).
Wainwright, who in 2013 posted the modern era's 23rd-best strikeout-to-walk ratio, became the first Cardinals pitcher (and just the 18th pitcher overall) to have at least nine strikeouts and no walks in a postseason game.
This performance marked the second straight season Wainwright had fanned at least nine in the opening game of an NLDS. In 2012, he struck out 10 Nationals batters. With two such efforts, Wainwright joined Bartolo Colon and Johnson as the only pitchers to have multiple LDS Game 1 efforts featuring nine or more K's.
• Carlos Beltran's three-run home run in the third inning -- his only hit in a 1-for-5 day at the plate -- gave him 15 career postseason home runs, tying him with Babe Ruth for the eighth most in postseason history.
Beltran's 15 homers are the third most for any switch-hitter, behind the 22 from Bernie Williams and the 18 from Mickey Mantle, and they are the second most in NL history behind Albert Pujols' 18. When Beltran has gone deep in a postseason game, his team as won 10 of 12 games.
Beltran has collected 25 extra-base hits in 35 career postseason games. No other player has accumulated more through his first 35 postseason contests, with Nelson Cruz having 23 and George Brett 22.
• The seven-run inning -- one made up of four hits, three walks and a hit-by-pitch -- was the highest-scoring postseason frame for St. Louis since they tallied nine in the second inning in Game 4 of the 1985 NL Championship Series against the Dodgers. Those nine represent the NLCS record for the most runs in an inning.
As for the NLDS record book, Thursday's seven-run outburst set a new high mark for an inning, with the previous record of six having been accomplished four times, including twice by the Cardinals.
• The Cardinals improved to 7-4 in opening games of the NLDS, and this win snapped a three-game losing streak. In the six previous times they won Game 1 of the NLDS, the Cardinals went on to capture the series (1996, 2000, '02, '04-06).
• Cardinals third baseman David Freese went 2-for-4 with two RBIs and has driven in 27 runs in 32 career postseason games. That total through that many games places Freese in a tie with Ryan Howard and Cruz for the fifth most. The top four: Lou Gehrig (35), David Ortiz (31), Jim Edmonds (30) and Lance Berkman (29).
• Pirates starter A.J. Burnett (two innings. six hits, seven runs) became the fourth Bucs hurler to allow at least seven runs in a postseason contest. In Game 5 of the 1903 World Series, Brickyard Kennedy surrendered 10 (four earned) in seven innings, and two other pitchers -- Deacon Phillippe in Game 7 of the best-of-nine 1903 World Series and Lee Meadows in Game 3 of the '27 Fall Classic -- allowed seven.
Burnett walked four while not striking out a single batter. The most recent time he'd exited a game with no strikeouts occurred on June 30, 2004.
2013 National League Division Series: Dodgers at Braves
The Dodgers' battery of A.J. Ellis and Kershaw propelled the club to a 6-1 victory in Game 1 of their NLDS matchup with the Braves.
• Kershaw allowed one run and three hits in seven innings of work and struck out 12. The 12 K's were the third most for any Dodgers pitcher in a postseason game, behind 15 from Sandy Koufax in Game 1 of the 1963 World Series and the 14 from Carl Erskine in Game 3 of the '53 Fall Classic. Kershaw's 12 strikeouts were tied for the eighth most for any pitcher in Game 1 of any series. Bob Gibson's 17 K's in the opener of the '68 World Series were the most.
Kershaw's dozen punchouts were the fifth most for a southpaw in a postseason game. In addition to Koufax's15 K's in 1963, the others with more were John Candelaria, with 14 (Game 3, '75 NLCS), Johnson, with 13 (Game 4, '97 ALDS), and Cliff Lee, with 13 (Game 3, 2010 American League Championship Series).
• Ellis, with two doubles and an RBI, became the sixth Dodgers catcher to have a pair of extra-base hits and an RBI in a postseason game. Roy Campanella did this twice (Games 3 and 4 of the 1955 World Series), Steve Yeager did it in Game 5 of the ''81 Fall Classic, Rick Dempsey managed the feat in Game 5 of the '88 NLCS, and Russell Martin added his name to the list in Game 3 of the '08 NLDS.
Ellis was the fourth catcher to mark his postseason debut with two extra-base hits and an RBI. Hank Gowdy (1914 World Series), Steve O'Neill ('20 World Series) and Victor Martinez (2007 ALDS) are the others.
• The Dodgers improved to 3-5 in NLDS Game 1's, and that was after dropping their first five. Los Angeles had lost in a Game 1 in '81, '95, '96, 2004 and '06 before winning in '08 and '09.
• The Braves, who have not won a postseason series since sweeping the 2001 NLDS, have lost eight consecutive Game 1's (this includes their loss in the one-game Wild Card Game last year). The most recent series in which Atlanta won the opener was in the 2001 NLDS.
Roger Schlueter is senior researcher for MLB Productions. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.