Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said yesterday before the team took off for St. Louis that he expected both Andre Ethier and Hanley Ramirez to be in the starting lineup for Game 6 tonight.
However, the Dodgers released their lineup and lo and behold, Ramirez was absent with Nick Punto slated to start and hit eighth tonight. Dealing with a fractured eighth rib, Ramirez has been getting ’round the clock treatment, but has come out of Games 4 and 5 before the end of the game.
Bill Shaikin of the LA Times was the first to disclose the Dodgers plan for Game 6:
Hanley Ramirez not starting at SS for #Dodgers. Nick Punto is.
— Bill Shaikin (@BillShaikin) October 18, 2013
In the NLDS, Ramirez was arguably the best hitter as he was 10-25 with a home run and six RBI and was injured in the first inning of Game 1. Meanwhile, Punto started Game 2 and came in as a replacement in Games 4 and 5, but his base running mistake in the seventh inning killed any rally with the Dodgers trailing 4-2.
Clayton Kershaw starts Game 6 tonight against Cardinals rookie Michael Wacha and with a potential Game 7 tomorrow, there’s a chance that the Dodgers are gambling they’ll push the series until tomorrow and buy Hanley another day to recover.
Ramirez has been wearing a vest across his midsection while dealing with the pain, but is just 2-12 through four games that he’s played in. Ethier is in the lineup as Mattingly said yesterday and hopefully he’ll step up without Ramirez in the lineup.
Most likely, Hanley will be used as a pinch-hitter in a big situation later in the game and if the Dodgers do win tonight, hopefully he’ll be in the lineup tomorrow night.
UPDATE: Dodgers official Twitter account at 2:50 PM PST:
Don Mattingly is hopeful that Hanley Ramirez will be available to pinch hit tonight. #Dodgers
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) October 18, 2013
UPDATE: Hanley Ramirez back in the lineup according to Kevin Kennedy of AM570 Radio at 5:oo PM PST:
Lineup change Hanley Ramirez now starting hitting 4th tonight!
— Kevin Kennedy (@KevinKennedyMLB) October 18, 2013
In case you missed it, here’s the “Mickey Mouse” celebration from Adrian Gonzalez in NLCS Game 5