Going into Game 1 of the NLCS, the Dodgers had an advantage on the mound as their other ace, Zack Greinke went up against Cardinals starter Joe Kelly. With all due respect to Kelly, he’s likely the Cardinals number three or four starter, while Greinke would be the ace of several other pitching staffs.
The Dodgers got exactly what they needed from Greinke, eight innings of two run ball while striking out 10, while Kelly settled in and gave up two runs in six innings. However, the biggest decision came from Don Mattingly as he removed Adrian Gonzalez in favor of pinch-runner Dee Gordon in the eighth inning and explained that decision to Bill Shaikin of the LA Times:
Mattingly on using Gordon as PR and losing Gonzalez: “You’ve got to shoot your bullet when you get a chance.”
— Bill Shaikin (@BillShaikin) October 12, 2013
The inning would play out with Yasiel Puig grounding into a fielder’s choice, wasting Gordon, and Juan Uribe grounding into a double play to end the inning. Naturally, the move would come back and burn the Dodgers as Gonzalez’s replacement, Michael Young, made four outs in just two plate appearances as the Dodgers and Cardinals played 13 innings.
This is now the second time in five games in the playoffs that Mattingly has made a questionable call as he walked the bases loaded to face Jason Heyward with a struggling Paco Rodriguez on the mound in Game 2 of the NLDS.
Carlos Beltran ended the game last night with a walk off hit in the 13th inning and it left many scratching their head. While Puig didn’t help Gordon get to second, putting the ball into play on the second pitch, Mattingly knows he’s ultra aggressive. Young would come up in two key situations and flew into a double play and grounded into one.
After hitting just 1-10 with runners in scoring position and leaving 11 men on base, the Dodgers have little time to dwell on their Game 1 defeat and Mattingly will need to push all the right buttons this time to avoid an 0-2 hole.
In case you missed it, Andre Ethier finally made a start in center field last night!