After an 0-for-4, four strikeout performance on Saturday night against the St. Louis Cardinals, Yasiel Puig was visibly upset with himself.
He was 2-for-3 with three runs scored in the first game of the series, but that was long forgotten after Game 2. The performance was eerily similar to Game 2 of the NLCS last season when Puig was 0-for-4 with four strikeouts. He bounced back to go 2-for-3 with an RBI in the next game.
According to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, manager Don Mattingly believes Puig has similar past experiences that will help him forget Game 2:
Last year’s [playoff experience] should help him, the All-Star Game, too. Those are emotional times, but it’s still baseball. Bring it back to the simple things.”
Puig struck out in all three of his at-bats in the All-Star game this year, a day after going without a home run in the Home Run Derby. The 23-year-old outfielder also went through a prolonged slump in the second half of the season. He recovered to finish the year at .296 with 16 home runs and 69 RBIs. The Dodgers count on Puig to provide a spark at the top of the lineup along with second baseman Dee Gordon.
Mattingly also believes the travel day will go a long way to helping Puig get back to his usual self:
A day off like today is the time we all talk to Yasiel, tell him to take a step back, think about what has happened, that they’re doing this to get to you,” Mattingly said.
In 12 career playoff games, Puig is hitting .319 with five RBIs and nine runs scored. It may not be a surprise that the Dodger offense scored nine runs on Friday when Puig was on base, and just three runs on Saturday when he was hitless.
The Dodgers will need Puig tonight if they plan on taking the next step towards the World Series.