The first team to clinch a playoff berth now stands just two games away from watching the St. Louis Cardinals head to the World Series. In a best-of-seven showdown, the Los Angeles Dodgers have lost Games 1 and 2 of the National League Championship Series.
While the ending scores were very close in those games, 2-3 and 1-0, respectively, close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades, as they say.
The Dodgers need a win.
And it’s not quite clear that they’ll get it.
Yasiel Puig, who is often credited for the Dodgers’ placement in the postseason, failed to perform with the same explosive talent he delivered this past summer. In Game 1 against the Cards, Puig became the 34th player to go without a hit in at least six at-bats in the postseason. And in Game 2, Puig suffered four strikeouts in four at-bats. He is now 0-for-10 with six strikeouts in the NLCS, and in dire need of improvement.
Even if Puig can step up his offense, there is no guarantee that the Dodgers will prevail as their underperforming outfielder is not their only concern.
Hanley Ramirez, who excels at shortstop and at-bat, is experiencing pain from bruised ribs that may keep him out of the remainder of the series. Ramirez was hit by Joe Kelly’s fastball last Friday night during the Dodgers’ and Cardinals’ opening match-up. According to Ramirez, the pain is so great that he is nearly unable to swing a bat. The Dodgers are awaiting x-ray results.
In the meantime, they continue to monitor the recovery of Andre Ethier, their centerfielder who is suffering from a slight fracture in his lower left leg. The Dodgers benched Ethier for the majority of Game 2, but did come out to pinch hit for his stand-in, Skip Schumacher, who has been minding the outfield in Ethier’s absence.
The Dodgers knew they would have to endure the postseason without their elite hitter, Matt Kemp, but the California team never foresaw being two men short in a seven game series that could come to an end in the next 48 hours unless there is a change.
The Dodgers do know change, however.
Just earlier this year, the team came back from last place to take the National League West. Today, the boys in blue will have to put on a similar performance if they plan to tame the spirit of St. Louis and make it to the World Series.