Vicente Padilla (0-0, -.--) vs. Joel Pineiro (0-0, -.--).
Thursday's game-time temperature at Dodger Stadium: 71 degrees. Today's high in St. Louis: 60 degrees. Today's low: 38 degrees. In other words, the Dodgers can expect a chilly reception at Busch Stadium in more ways than one.
While a 2-0 lead over the Cardinals is pretty much a dream come true, a road win is the next big test the Dodgers must pass. And they would prefer not to stay in St. Louis for a second longer than necessary.
With his game-tying hit in Game 2, Ronnie Belliard has officially displaced Orlando Hudson as the Dodgers' starting second baseman. The O-Dog is handling the situation with his usual class: "I'm all right, I'm all right....I'll do whatever they need me to do," he told the Daily News.
Most of the other regular starters have already made offensive playoff contributions: Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier have homered, and Casey Blake worked that incredible nine-pitch walk to set up Belliard's Hudson-bumping RBI.
RBI-less so far are James Loney and Manny Ramirez. Will Road Loney make an appearance in St. Louis? Can Manny erase a disappointing regular season with one big postseason swing?
And then there's the question of Vicente Padilla. Whether he's earned the right to start a game before Chad Billingsley is a subject for debate, but the Dodgers have shown that while a spectacular start would be welcome, a solid start will suffice. Fortunately, Padilla has pitched effectively and remained on his best behavior since joining the team, knowing a strong playoff performance will enhance his value as a free agent this off-season.
So there you have it. One game from the NLCS. Momentum on our side. The team feeling loose and confident, but not cocky. Let's give the Cards something to talk about with the Cubs.
1: Jon SooHoo/Dodgers; 2 & 3: AP photos