The St. Louis Cardinals and Boston Red Sox, which entered the postseason as the top seeds in their respective leagues, each return home for Game 6 looking to close out the series. The Los Angeles Dodgers and Detroit Tigers have other ideas.
So far, both League Championship Series have been highlighted by terrific pitching. We have witnessed four shutouts, including a trio of 1-0 victories, and no team has scored more than seven runs through 10 combined games.
The pitchers hope that trend continues, while the hitters are focused on stepping up to help push their team into the World Series. Let's take a closer look at each Game 6 and predict which teams will come out on top.
Los Angeles Dodgers at St. Louis Cardinals (St. Louis leads 3-2)
Friday, Oct. 18 at 8:30 p.m. ET on TBS
If forced to pick any starting pitcher to lead your team into an elimination game, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better option than Clayton Kershaw. The Dodgers' ace has been dominant for the better part of five years now.
After posting a microscopic 1.83 ERA in 33 starts during the regular season, Kershaw has somehow found a way to elevate his level of play even further. In three postseason starts, he has allowed just one earned run in 19 innings (0.47 ERA) while giving up just eight hits and striking out 23 batters.
The Cardinals will counter with rookie sensation Michael Wacha, who matched Kershaw scoreless frame for scoreless frame in St. Louis' Game 2 triumph. His playoff numbers are similar to his Game 6 counterpart, with a 0.64 ERA and 17 strikeouts in 14 innings.
In other words, another pitching duel is on the horizon. Even though Wacha's side got the better of the first meeting, Kershaw's track record still gives the Dodgers a slight pitching edge. But it comes down to which offense is able to string together better at-bats.
The Dodgers should be feeling confident after a strong showing to stay alive in Game 5. Adrian Gonzalez went yard twice, Carl Crawford and A.J. Ellis also homered, and Yasiel Puig has once again provided a spark over the past three games.
Prediction: Dodgers 3, Cardinals 1
Detroit Tigers at Boston Red Sox (Boston leads 3-2)
Saturday, Oct. 19 at 4:30 p.m. ET on Fox
Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder have posted identical .317 on-base percentages through 10 playoff games and have combined to hit just two home runs, both off the bat of Cabrera. Yet, the Tigers are still just two wins from the World Series.
Detroit's pitching staff, including Game 6 starter Max Scherzer, has answered the call in a major way. However, unless one of the league's most dangerous power duos finally emerges from his slumber, the Tigers are going to watch their title hopes fade away.
Facing Clay Buchholz presents an opportunity to turn the tide. The Boston starter has an ERA over six in two playoff starts and has allowed three home runs, including one to Cabrera earlier in the series. He hasn't looked like the same pitcher who had a strong regular season.
On the flip side, Scherzer has had little trouble carrying his form over to the postseason. He's posted a 2.25 ERA while striking out an eye-popping 26 batters in 16 innings. His strikeout ability allows him to work out of jams that few other starters can.
The pitching matchup favors Detroit, and the big hitters are due for a breakthrough. The Tigers should be able to capitalize and ensure both series go the distance. A pair of Game 7s would provide a nice boost to baseball heading into the Fall Classic.
Prediction: Tigers 5, Red Sox 2
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