ST. LOUIS – At the trade deadline in July, the Cardinals appeared to be in the market for starting pitching. Instead, St. Louis stood pat and trusted its young arms.
That trust paid off — in a trip to the World Series.
Michael Wacha, a 22-year-old rookie, capped a nearly untouchable month by being selected the NL Championship Series most valuable player. He outpitched Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw for the second time in a 9-0 victory in Game 6 Friday night that ended the best-of-seven NLCS.
Eight-year veteran Adam Wainwright, a 19-game winner, said he wouldn’t be surprised if Wacha was on the mound for the World Series opener Wednesday against the Red Sox in Boston.
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Joe Kelly was the strongest member of the St. Louis rotation for a long stretch in the summer and has been tough in the postseason, too. Closer Trevor Rosenthal hit 100 mph on the stadium radar in finishing off the Cardinals’ 19th NL pennant. Carlos Martinez emerged as the setup man, 41st-round draft pick Kevin Siegrist had a lights-out 0.45 earned-run average in 392
3 regular-season innings and Seth Maness was one of the best at inducing the double-play ball.
Kelly is in his second season and the rest are rookies who are having fun.
Wacha made his major-league debut in late May, but he was at Class AAA Memphis when many teammates were promoted.
“They were performing at a high level; they weren’t letting a lot of things affect them,” Wacha said. “So whenever I got called up, I felt like I had to hang with these guys.”
Dodgers face questions
LOS ANGELES – The Dodgers began the season poorly and then soared from last to first in the NL West in a torrid 50-game stretch to make the playoffs for the first time in four years.
Getting pounded in Game 6 in St. Louis wasn’t the ending sought by the team with baseball’s second-highest payroll at the end of the regular season — more than $236 million. The Dodgers’ drought of World Series appearances extends to 26 years.
The team faces several decisions in the offseason, starting with manager Don Mattingly, who is 261-226 in three seasons. The Dodgers hold a $1.4 million contract option for next year.
“You all can question this move or that move, but nothing really caught me by surprise,” Mattingly said about managing in his first playoffs. “I didn’t feel overwhelmed by it.”
Dodgers officials will be discussing new contracts for Kershaw and Hanley Ramirez, the team’s best hitter.
Kershaw, 25, is entering his final year of salary-arbitration eligibility and Ramirez, 29, has one season left on his contract.
“We had some good moments this year,” Kershaw said. “Put together a good streak there toward the middle. But really, unless you win the whole thing, it doesn’t make a difference.”
Rookie Yasiel Puig injected much-needed energy into the Dodgers upon his arrival in early June. But the 22-year-old outfielder bottomed out against the Cardinals, going 5 for 22 with 10 strikeouts. Puig committed two errors in Game 6.
“We’ve got to do a better job of helping him to mature and understand what we want done and the way to do it,” Mattingly said.
• Alex Rodriguez paid $305,000 for evidence that could be used in the case involving the Biogenesis of America drug clinic, the New York Daily News reported. The allegation was denied by a spokesman for the New York Yankees’ third baseman.
The paper said A-Rod and his representatives confirmed the payments in testimony last week in the player’s grievance hearing.
Rodriguez is attempting to overturn his 211-game suspension. The Daily News reported the former Mariner spent the money on “videotapes, documents and affidavits that could have incriminated him or that would be used in his defense in an arbitration or court proceeding.”