LOS ANGELES— The 2013 National League Championship Series has seen some of the best pitching — and undoubtedly some of the worst hitting ever in the Major League Playoffs.
And even after the 3-0 win over the Cardinals to narrow the series to a 2-1 St. Louis lead, no Dodgers player would tell you that they feel the offense is coming back to form.
“Not at all,” said catcher A.J. Ellis, who joined Yasiel Puig in hitting a triple off Adam Wainwright. “We had to scrap for three runs tonight. It wasn’t easy and it’s not going to be easy. The offense has to get better and we’re confident it will.
“We need to have Yasiel playing like he did for us during the season and in the first round. If he doesn’t do that, it’s going to be very hard for us to win this series, because the Cardinals know how to pitch us. And they’ve done it pretty effectively so far.
“Having Hanley (Ramirez) and Andre (Ethier) back in the lineup is important, too, even if they aren’t one hundred percent healthy. It leaves the other staff to figure out how to pitch them; it gives them something else to think about when those guys go to the plate.”
Ramirez, who went 2 for 4 with an RBI, said that’s one of the reasons he wanted to be in the lineup despite a fractured rib on his left side.
“I want to play as much as I can because it took me so long to get to the playoffs,” he said, “but I also know I can contribute in other ways, like how their pitchers pitch to other guys in our lineup.
“So, I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing and hopefully be able to keep playing. And we’ve also got to make sure Yasiel plays like he has.”
Seems like a recurring theme, doesn’t it?
Puig started out the series with seven strikeouts in 11 at-bats, including one against Wainwright Monday night in Puig’s first at-bat. Then the talented native of Cuba decided to join — and create — some of the fun.
In the fourth inning, with the Dodgers having ended a 22-inning scoreless run on an Adrian Gonzalez double that scored second baseman Mark Ellis, Puig hit a bomb to right field that put the Dodgers up 2-0.
Well, at least Puig thought it did.
After hammering the Wainwright pitch to deep right field, Puig decided the ball was going out of the yard, so he tossed the bat away, threw both arms up in the air and admired his first triple of the NLCS. The circus was back in town and Yasiel was the main act.
Once Puig realized the ball wasn’t leaving the park, he took off like a bat out of hell and ended up with a standup triple, which illustrates how truly gifted the 22-year-old is on a baseball field.
But had he run from the second he hit the ball he likely could have had a homer anyway; an inside the park home run.
He does infuriate his teammates in the clubhouse sometimes, but the man with the most at stake says he likes Puig just the way he is.
“He’s just enthusiastic the way he plays the game,” said Dodgers principal owner Mark Walter. “And that doesn’t bother me in the least. His style is enthusiastic and he’s a great kid. He’ll eventually outgrow some of the things he does and he’ll be recognized as one of the best players around.”
It’s what Yasiel wants — and what a paltry Dodgers postseason offense needs.
“Being back in Los Angeles and with the help of my teammates, I was really able to start having fun again,” Puig said through a translator. “That’s all it really is for me is me having fun just playing the game.”
And fun for Puig usually means a potent Dodgers offense that could be a World Series winner.