The Dodgers’ offense is struggling, and they might have to face St. Louis ace Adam Wainwright without their top hitter in Game 3 of the NL championship series.
Shortstop Hanley Ramirez had a CT scan on his painful left ribs Sunday, and the results weren’t available by mid-afternoon. He got hit by a pitch from Joe Kelly in the opener but stayed in to play all 13 innings of a 3-2 loss Friday.
Ramirez was a late scratch for Game 2, a 1-0 defeat that left Los Angeles trailing the Cardinals 2-0 in the best-of-seven series.
He rested Sunday, along with the rest of the team, which didn’t hit on the field.
"We’re just working on that, taking the pain away so I can go," Ramirez said. "Even if it’s cracked or something, I’m going to be able to get out there if we can take the pain away. It feels the same, but that doesn’t stop me from trying to remain positive for tomorrow."
Ramirez had a .638 slugging percentage during the regular season, and the Dodgers desperately need an offensive boost to get back into the best-of-seven series. They batted .184 in the first two games on the road, including 1 for 16 (.063) with runners in scoring position.
"We’ve talked about it. It always comes back to, can you get that key out and can you get the key hit?" manager Don Mattingly said. "It doesn’t get any easier for us with Wainwright. He seems like he’s always coming up big."
Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier didn’t start Saturday, but he appeared as a pinch-hitter and ended the game with a strikeout. He’s been bothered by shin splints, although he made his first start since Sept. 13 in the series opener.
"It’s definitely a thing where we need all the hands we can to find a way to get back in the series," Ethier said.
Wainwright predicted both Ramirez and Ethier would play.
"He looks the best I’ve seen him in a long time," Wainwright said of Ramirez. "His swing looks great. His approach is awesome. As everyone knows, he’s got power to all fields, so he’s a very dangerous hitter and a very tough bat added to that lineup."
Dodgers rookie Yasiel Puig has yet to make an impact in the series. Hitting cleanup in place of Ramirez, Puig struck out four times Saturday, dropping to 0 for 10 with six strikeouts in the series.
"He is a positive kid and he told me, `I’m going to get it tomorrow,’" Ramirez said. "Tomorrow he’s going to come and get ready to play and he’s going to do some damage."
The lack of offense and injuries to key players recalls the early season version of the Dodgers, when they were mired in the NL West cellar and were 12 games under .500. Then Puig arrived in early June and sparked their revival.
The Dodgers couldn’t capitalize on stellar outings by Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw on the road and now must rely on rookie Hyun-Jin Ryu, who stumbled against Atlanta in his playoff debut in the division series. He allowed four runs and six hits in three innings, and made two major mistakes in the field.
"I feel really strong," Ryu said through a Korean translator. "There is no reason my arm isn’t in good, top shape right now."
Wainwright last pitched against Los Angeles in the postseason in the 2009 NL division series, allowing one earned run in eight innings of a no-decision. He left leading 2-1 before the Dodgers scored twice in the bottom of the ninth to win.
"Thinking back, I know it’s going to be rocking tomorrow," Wainwright said. "I don’t know how many people are here, but it’s a lot of fans, bigger than most stadiums and very loud. I love that though. The louder the better. That plays right into my hands."
The Cardinals went through a full workout on a sunny and cool day at Dodger Stadium.
Manager Mike Matheny said his team’s mentality has stayed the same throughout the season.
"We’ve had some brutal losses and the guys came back the next day like it never happened. We’ve had some exciting wins and we’ve come back the next day with a lot of hunger," he said. "That’s what we continue to preach. That consistency is really in my mind what separates the good players from the very good players and the good teams from the very good teams."
The Dodgers have been down before in best-of-seven postseason series and come back. Three times they’ve trailed 2-0 in the World Series, most recently against the New York Yankees in 1981, and rallied to win titles each time.
"This team has been counted out a lot of times this year," Ethier said. "We figured out a way to get it done. We definitely have it in ourselves. We’ve proved that."