As is seemingly the case every October, the first round of the MLB playoffs have brought plenty of excitement. There’s also been some controversy, primarily with Los Angeles Dodgers infielder Chase Utley’s hard slide into second base that broke New York Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada’s leg.
Utley was suspended two games by Major League Baseball, but appealed, and was available for Games 3 and 4 at Citi Field. Although Utley didn’t appear in either of the games, the atmosphere was hostile, which was to be expected.
Players from both teams were introduced prior to Game 3, giving the Met faithful in attendance a perfect opportunity to rain boos down on Utley. That carried over into the game as boos morphed into chants of “Ut-ley sucks!” and later, “We want Ut-ley” once the Mets pulled away from the Dodgers.
According to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, first baseman Adrian Gonzalez downplayed the impact of the Citi Field crowd and said it pales in comparison to Dodger Stadium:
The crowd wasn’t a factor by any means,” said Adrian Gonzalez. “The crowd at Dodger Stadium is louder. But it was not about fighting the crowd, it was about getting runs for Kershaw. We played the game we wanted to play and he gave us a Kersh-like performance, dominated them, and it was great to see. There was no doubt in our minds he’d give a great performance.”
Outside of Daniel Murphy’s second home run of the series against Clayton Kershaw, Mets fans didn’t have much reason to cheer or jeer in Game 4. New York put two runners on in the eighth inning, though Chris Hatcher and Kenley Jansen combined to throw a scoreless inning.
The series now returns to Dodger Stadium for a deciding Game 5. The Dodgers led the Majors in average attendance for the third year in a row, by a comfortable 3,000-fan average per-game. As Games 1 and 2 were, Thursday’s Game 5 is expected to be a sellout.