It was the most life the battered Dodgers had shown in days, and it immediately energized a sellout crowd of 53,940 at Dodger Stadium. Five innings later, the Dodgers put the finishing touches on a 3-0 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 3, and the NLCS suddenly looked far different than it had three hours earlier.
“The great thing about the game of baseball [is] that you can talk about, ‘This is what should happen,’ but it never does play out that way,” Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez said. “That’s why, to me, predictions are just opinions. You’ve got to play it out on the field.”
The Cardinals still lead the series, two games to one, with Game 4 set for Tuesday evening. But after the Dodgers beat Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright on Monday night, the series, and with it the NL pennant and a berth in the World Series, is very much up for grabs.
And for all the talk of the Dodgers’ woes, it is the Cardinals now who look like an unholy mess, lugging around a .134 team batting average and a .190 slugging percentage in the series and showing an alarming lack of fundamentals in the Game 3 loss.
“It wasn’t very characteristic of how we played all season,” Cardinals Manager Mike Matheny said. “We’re a better club than this.”
Monday night should have been a reprieve for the Cardinals, after facing — and surviving — Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw in Games 1 and 2, but Dodgers lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu stifled them for seven scoreless innings, allowing only three hits and a walk and making the pair of runs the Dodgers scored in the fourth inning hold up.
Before the fourth, the Dodgers had hit only one ball out of the infield, a bloop single to shallow right-center by Hanley Ramirez, who was playing with a fractured rib. They hadn’t scored since the third inning of Game 1, their string of scoreless innings growing to 22.
It was a Cardinals mistake that awakened the Dodgers’ bats. Mark Ellis opened the bottom of the fourth by driving a ball to deep right-center. Center fielder Jon Jay and right fielder Carlos Beltran converged on it, but neither called for it and the ball fell between them for a double — one of a number of makeable catches Jay, in particular, failed to make.