In his next life, maybe Dodgers skipper Don Mattingly should work for the government and help rectify the budget deficit, because he seems most comfortable when he is managing from behind with his team on the cusp of disaster.
Entering last night’s must-win 3-0 shutout of the St. Louis Cardinals, the tremendous performances that had turned the Dodgers season from donkey dung to “Magic” rose pedals were receding faster than Coolio’s hairline. In losing the first two National Championship League Series games, the Dodgers’ hollow bats could barely penetrate the Cardinals’ postseason pitching.
The LA arms have been dope as well, but timely hitting wins October baseball and the Dodgers watch stopped ticking for 22 innings in the mist of their most important postseason in 25 years.
It doesn’t take a financial analyst to figure those numbers, and you had to feel like the Dodgers were too talented to have their bopping-bats bitch-slapped out of the playoffs in this fashion.
Baseball is a natural roller-coaster ride and following an NLDS where they averaged 6½ runs and batted .333 — best ever in an NL postseason series — some slumping against the Cardinals should have been expected. The baseball god’s cipher of averages suggests that it was all set up for LA to win Game 3.
Former Dodgers Dusty Baker, Reggie Smith, Ron Cey and Steve Garvey — baseball's first 30-homer quartet in 1977 — tossed ceremonial first pitches. That’s all of the offensive and historic inspiration in the world, but if that wasn’t enough, cats were G’ing up across the board with an NFL mentality. Hanley Ramirez was nursing broken ribs and not expected to play, but he gutted it out and his 8th inning hit scored Carl Crawford and provided LA with its final run of the game.
The way rookie Hyun-Jin Ryu pitched (seven innings of three-hit, shutout ball) made the run irrelevant in the final score, but any points the Dodgers could muster against Adam Wainwright (4-0 with a 2.03 ERA in postseason career entering Game 3) who suffered his first-ever loss in 15 career postseason games, would go a long way towards getting them back in the groove.
After the Dodgers got that first RBI-single from the slumping Adrian Gonzales, ending a 1-17 drought for LA with runners in scoring position, it was on.
In a previous article, TSL called for a pulse from Yasiel Puig. He was hitless and spiritless in the NLCS until Gonzales sparked that 4th inning. Puig followed Gonzales’ knock with a triple of his own off the right field wall, and in typical fashion the overzealous rookie prematurely celebrates what he assumed was his first post season homer, but the ball just missed leaving the park. It didn’t matter though, Puig just turned on those freakish after burners, safely got to third and then began a second celebration to the delight of the 54,000 spectators wildly waving their white-towels like a Petey Pablo reunion tour.
At that moment, LA was back and so was their emotional catalyst. The Dodgers didn’t just grab a crucial win, they flipped the script on the entire series, and they get another game at home to tie this series up and start from scratch. Game 4 is Tuesday at Dodger Stadium and LA enters the game feeling like they are back in control. .
The playoffs are one-day momentum swings," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "Right now I feel like we've kind of grabbed it."