Dodgers show lighter side despite facing elimination
LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez didn't quite thumb his nose at the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday afternoon, but he did something that was probably better.
He made Mickey Mouse ears.
It was a humorous gesture directed at his teammates, and it was all about having fun. But it also emphasized that the Dodgers – even on the brink of elimination in the National League Championship Series – are going to enjoy themselves, no matter how this ends.
"If you're not having fun in the playoffs, then you don't deserve to be here," Gonzalez said. "I'm just enjoying every moment of it."
Through the ups and downs of their best-of-7 series against the St. Louis Cardinals, the Dodgers have shown the same resilience they displayed during a whirlwind season. And it's not over yet.
After failing to hit a home run in the first four games of the series, they hit four on Wednesday in a 6-4 win at Dodger Stadium that trimmed the Cardinals series lead to 3-2. But they'll also have Clayton Kershaw pitching Game 6 at Busch Stadium on Friday, and that's all they can ask for.
"We've still got a long mountain to climb, but we feel better right now than we did at the start of the day," catcher A.J. Ellis said.
The Dodgers, who had a .223 team batting average in the NLCS, received two home runs from Gonzalez and one each from Carl Crawford and Ellis. They also received a productive start from Zack Greinke, who stumbled through the first inning, lost a 2-0 lead in the third, then retired the final 13 batters he faced through the seventh.
But it was that Mickey Mouse gesture from Gonzalez that drew the most postgame buzz. It came in response to a comment from Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright, who took exception when Gonzalez celebrated a double on Monday night by clapping his hands and shouting toward his dugout.
Wainwright accused Gonzalez of doing "Mickey Mouse stuff," so Gonzalez, after his homer put the Dodgers ahead 3-2 in the third, put his hands near his ears and wiggled them after he crossed home plate.
"The Mickey Mouse ears, I was just having fun with the comment that was made earlier," Gonzalez said. "Nothing against them or anything."
Even if it wasn't, it was a sign the Dodgers were having fun – and were playing with the same resolve they showed during a 42-8 run this summer that brought them from last place to first in the National League West.
They still had to overcome a slow start by Greinke, who loaded the bases in the first inning with no outs before striking out Matt Adams and inducing Yadier Molina to hit into a double play.
"With Molina, there's nothing you could do that you know is going to work," Greinke said. "He can adjust to anything, and I kind of got lucky, I guess. I made a good pitch, but still, even with a good pitch, he can hurt you. It just worked out."
Just as he did in Game 1, Greinke gave up a two-run lead when the Cardinals scored twice in the third inning. But then came an explosion of home runs: Gonzalez in the third, Crawford in the fifth, Ellis in the seventh and Gonzalez again the eighth.
The four homers tied a club record for postseason homers last accomplished in the 1978 NLCS against the Philadelphia Phillies.
As it turned out, the Dodgers needed them. Closer Kenley Jansen surrendered two runs in the ninth before striking out Adron Chambers to end the game.
Now they're going back to St. Louis, and it's the Cardinals who may be feeling a bit unnerved. Last season, they held a 3-1 lead against the San Francisco Giants before losing three games in a row. The Giants went on to capture the World Series.
The Dodgers are still two wins from duplicating the Giants' comeback, but they know it can be done, especially with Kershaw on the mound Friday.
Maybe they'll even bring some Mickey Mouse with them. Gonzalez, asked if he intended to retire the ears gesture, said, "I'm going to retire them so it's not talked about again. It was just for fun."
But Crawford, sitting next to him in the interview room, smiled and said he hoped Gonzalez would continue, if for no other reason than to get under the Cardinals' skin.
"Once you start it, you've got to keep it going," he said. "I'm pretty sure it rubbed them the wrong way and they're going to use it as some kind of fuel. So you might as well keep it going."
Why not? The Dodgers have come this far.