As the Dodgers prepare for Game 5 of the NLCS this afternoon, they know the task is tall, but the past two times the Cardinals held a 3-1 lead in the NLCS, they lost the series.

Shortstop Hanley Ramirez has been playing through a fractured rib the entire series after getting hit during his first inning at-bat against Cardinals righty Joe Kelly. Ramirez stayed in the game, but sat out Game 2 before playing through the pain in Game 3 and 4, before leaving in the seventh inning last night.

However, word got out that Hanley might’ve suffered a setback in batting practice yesterday, but was feeling better today and was in the lineup. Arguably the Dodgers best and most important hitter, Ramirez is our x-factor for Game 5 at Dodger Stadium this afternoon.

During the playoffs, Ramirez is hitting .400 (10-25) with a home run and seven RBIs and even when he isn’t 100 percent, his name in the lineup gives confidence to the rest of the Dodger hitters in the lineup. The Dodgers as a team are hitting .223, but have scored just seven runs through the first four games of the series.

The alternatives if Ramirez didn’t play were Nick Punto or Michael Young as Don Mattingly said that with the way Hanley’s feeling right now, he’s the best option for them.

When it was revealed that he had a fractured rib, Hanley said he owes it to the city of LA and Dodger organization to continue to play through the injury. Hopefully Hanley doesn’t have any issues during Game 5 today and he’ll be right in the middle of the action as the Dodgers hope to send the NLCS back to Busch Stadium.

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In case you missed it, here’s the latest on “RallyBear” from Game 3 of the NLCS

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