When the Dodgers claimed a 3-0 victory in Game 3 before their home crowd, a sweep most assuredly was not going to happen in the NLCS, one that has proven to be the lowest-scoring LCS ever through three games with only nine runs scored and two shutouts already posted.
Hyun-Jin Ryu continued a trend of younger starters outshining more experienced hands on the October stage, besting the Cardinals' Adam Wainwright. The NLCS now stands at 2-1 in favor of St. Louis, with the Dodgers feeling much better about themselves than they were over the weekend.
"I think the playoffs are one-day momentum swings," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "Every day changes with momentum. Right now, I feel like we've kind of grabbed it."
As the Road to the World Series took another abrupt turn amid the maze of freeways in Southern California, the route became a bit less certain, with each of the four teams now having claimed a victory in the LCS round.
Pending how the World Series unfolds, this year's postseason run joins 2003 and '11 as the only October tournaments since Division Series play began in 1995 that have gone off without one team whitewashing another with a three- or four-game sweep.
With the sixth shutout posted this postseason, the Dodgers gave the Cardinals a dose of their own pitching medicine Monday night, returning the favor delivered in the opening pair of games in St. Louis. And it all began with a first-year Major Leaguer with a ton of international background, Ryu.
"All I was thinking about was the fact that we were down, 2-0, and I told myself this could potentially be the last start I ever pitched here this year," said Ryu, the 26-year-old lefty from Korea.
A couple of offensive bursts for the Dodgers was all it took to wipe the sweep off the table. Yasiel Puig, Adrian Gonzalez and Hanley Ramirez -- playing with a fractured rib -- delivered big knocks, and then the L.A. bullpen shut things down in the final innings to send the Dodgers to Game 4 with some momentum.
Mark Ellis scored the Dodgers' first run in 22 innings in the fourth, and Puig followed with a blast to right that at least one observer appeared to think was going all the way out. Said observer then turned on the afterburners and went in standing at third with an RBI triple, snapping an 0-for-11 skid and barely being able to keep from bouncing off the bag with glee.
The Cardinals would run themselves out of a potential rally, their only rustling of the night, in the next half-inning, also losing third baseman David Freese to a right calf injury in the process. That hiccup, and a couple of issues in the outfield, exposed some flaws in an ordinarily fundamentally sound club.
"It wasn't very characteristic of how we played all season," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said.
Now it's a brand-new NLCS, one that certainly won't end in a sweep and one that is up for grabs heading to Game 4.
* * *
One of the many beautiful facets of the annual gem that is October baseball is the weekday doubleheader -- back-to-back games with Fall Classic implications.
On Tuesday, a double dip of teams squaring off for pennants will begin in Detroit with a swing game between the Red Sox and Tigers in the ALCS at 4 p.m. ET on FOX, followed by a matchup at Chavez Ravine between the Cardinals and the Dodgers in the NLCS at 8 p.m. on TBS.
The showdown in Motown will be all about Mo -- as in momentum -- so it will be intriguing from the first pitch out of Tigers ace Justin Verlander's hand. With John Lackey taking the ball for the Red Sox, the visitors from Boston hope to build on the momentum from their historic rally in Game 2.
Then again, to listen to Red Sox manager John Farrell, momentum is about today, not about yesterday.
"Much like we talked about coming into [Sunday's] game and putting Game 1 behind us, in my mind and in our clubhouse, Game 2 is behind us as well," Farrell said during Monday's workout day at Comerica Park.
Verlander, who flew back to Detroit early and wasn't around the stunned visitors' clubhouse at Fenway following Game 2, enters the game well-rested, coming off a pair of dominant performances in the AL Division Series against the A's.
"This is baseball, you've got to reset and come ready to play the next game," Verlander said.
That's something you don't have to tell the Cardinals or the Dodgers for that matter. St. Louis has shown the ability to bounce back from a loss all year long, and Los Angeles showed it Monday night.
Lance Lynn, the Game 1 winner in relief, takes the ball for the Cardinals in what now becomes an even more crucial start, and he'll be meeting Ricky Nolasco -- yes, it will be Nolasco on the mound when the game starts, the Dodgers promise.
Remember, it was going to be Nolasco in Game 4 of the NL Division Series against the Braves until a few hours before game time, when the Dodgers shifted gears and went with Clayton Kershaw on short rest. Zack Greinke on short rest could have been an option for Game 4, but Nolasco will get the nod -- apparently.
From the Game 3 postgame news conference:
Question: Who is starting tomorrow?
Question: Can you talk about what goes into that decision?
Mattingly: He's been set up the whole time for Game 4. As of right now, Ricky Nolasco will be pitching tomorrow.
Tuesday's League Championship Series games
Red Sox (Lackey) at Tigers (Verlander), 4 p.m. ET (FOX) Preview >
Cardinals (Lynn) at Dodgers (Nolasco), 8 p.m. ET (TBS) Preview >
2013 MLB POSTSEASON MATCHUPS
Division Series: Red Sox beat Rays, 3-1 | Tigers beat A's, 3-2
Championship Series: Tigers vs. Red Sox, series tied 1-1
Division Series: Cardinals beat Pirates, 3-2 | Dodgers beat Braves, 3-1
Championship Series: Dodgers vs. Cardinals, St. Louis leads, 2-1
2013 postseason schedule
NL Division Series
Game 1: Cardinals 9, Pirates 1
Game 2: Pirates 7, Cardinals 1
Game 3: Pirates 5, Cardinals 3
Game 4: Cardinals 2, Pirates 1
Game 5: Cardinals 6, Pirates 1, Cardinals win series, 3-2
Game 1: Dodgers 6, Braves 1
Game 2: Braves 4, Dodgers 3
Game 3: Dodgers 13, Braves 6
Game 4: Dodgers 4, Braves 3, Dodgers win series, 3-1
AL Division Series
Game 1: Red Sox 12, Rays 2
Game 2: Red Sox 7, Rays 4
Game 3: Rays 5, Red Sox 4
Game 4: Red Sox 3, Rays 1, Red Sox win series, 3-1
Game 1: Tigers 3, A's 2
Game 2: A's 1, Tigers 0
Game 3: A's 6, Tigers 3
Game 4: Tigers 8, A's 6
Game 5: Tigers 3, A's 0, Tigers win series, 3-2
NL Championship Series (All games on TBS)
Game 1: Cardinals 3, Dodgers 2 (13 innings)
Game 2: Cardinals 1, Dodgers 0
Game 3: Dodgers 3, Cardinals 0, Cardinals lead series, 2-1
Game 4: Cardinals at Dodgers, Tuesday, 8 p.m. ET
Game 5: Cardinals at Dodgers, Wednesday, 4 p.m. ET
*Game 6: Dodgers at Cardinals, Friday, Oct. 18, 8:30 p.m. ET
*Game 7: Dodgers at Cardinals, Saturday, Oct. 19, 8:30 p.m. ET
* - if necessary
AL Championship Series (All games on FOX)
Game 1: Tigers 1, Red Sox 0
Game 2: Red Sox 6, Tigers 5, series tied, 1-1
Game 3: Red Sox at Tigers, Tuesday, 4 p.m. ET
Game 4: Red Sox at Tigers, Wednesday, 8 p.m. ET
Game 5: Red Sox at Tigers, Thursday, Oct. 17, 8 p.m. ET
*Game 6: Tigers at Red Sox, Saturday, Oct. 19, 4:30 p.m. ET^
*Game 7: Tigers at Red Sox, Sunday, Oct. 20, 8 p.m. ET
* - if necessary
^ - game time subject to change
WORLD SERIES (All games on FOX)
Game 1: NL champion at AL champion, Wednesday, Oct. 23, time TBD
Game 2: NL champion at AL champion, Thursday, Oct. 24, time TBD
Game 3: AL champion at NL champion, Saturday, Oct. 26, time TBD
Game 4: AL champion at NL champion, Sunday, Oct. 27, time TBD
*Game 5: AL champion at NL champion, Monday, Oct. 28, time TBD
*Game 6: NL champion at AL champion, Wednesday, Oct. 30, time TBD
*Game 7: NL champion at AL champion, Thursday, Oct. 31, time TBD
* - if necessary