LOS ANGELES — Donnie Baseball apparently will be back to manage the Dodgers in 2014 — and possibly beyond.
Despite a 4-2 loss to St. Louis that gave the Cardinals a 3-1 lead in the National League Championship Series, a source has confirmed it’s “100 percent” sure that Don Mattingly will be back — even if his team is knocked out of the playoffs on Wednesday.
The Dodgers manager had no comment after the game as he was walking toward his car. Two other teams executives also refused to confirm or deny the report.
According to CBSSports.com, Mattingly will get at least the option year picked up for $1.4 million, and could be in line for an long-term extension.
And why not?
The third-year manager took a team that was 12 games under .500 and 9.5 games behind Arizona in the National League West on June 20, and turned it into a division winner that put together a nearly-historic 42-8 run over the next two months.
However, even the incredible turnaround looked like it might not keep Mattingly employed by the Dodgers.
Constant criticism of his on-field moves led to repeated second-guessing, and he said Dodger President Stan Kasten told him that he’d be ousted if things didn’t change quickly.
Fortunately for the former Yankee great, they did.
The Dodgers finished 92-70, and if they can somehow manage to win three in a row against St. Louis in the NLCS, they’d be headed to their first World Series in a quarter century.
The task won’t be easy, but Mattingly says there’s nothing for his team to do but forget about the first four games and just go out and play.
“We’re down 3-1. That’s no secret,” he said. “Kind of the best thought I have is that I got one of the best pitchers (Zack Greinke) in baseball pitching (Wednesday). If we come out here, play hard and get a win, I’ve probably got the best pitcher in baseball going the next game (in Clayton Kershaw). (And Hyun-Jin) Ryu hasn’t been too bad.
“We don’t have a lot of time to feel sorry for ourselves. We’ll be ready to play and that’s all there is to it.”
Their collective backs are attached firmly to the wall, and they have to hope to Zack Greinke continues to dominate the Cards like he has most teams he’s faced in the second half of the season.
“Same thing as always,” Greinke said. “If you make really good pitches, there’s not much the offense can do.”
So, it’s up to the Dodgers’ $147 million man to make those pitches, and up to his teammates to come through with big hits if they hope to prolong the NLCS.
“We just have to score runs. Simple,” said catcher A.J. Ellis. “We need to have a three-game winning streak and we need to start (Wednesday).
“It’s not like it’s never been done before. It has, and we can do it too.”