It comes as no surprise to me (just read my posts from Thursday and Friday) that the Cardinals, having lost their first game in the NL Championship Series, are already finding things to gripe about. Apparently, in winning 3-0 and lifting their lifeless selves off the mat, the Dodgers showed a wee bit too much emotion in the minds of the Cards.
The complaints stem from the fourth inning, where the Dodgers nabbed an early 2-0 lead they would never relinquish. Gonzalez got things started with this RBI double.
Yasiel Puig then followed that up with this RBI triple.
Sure, he pimped it. He pimped it hard all the way to third base. And I understand griping about the bat flip and stare down at home plate – especially considering the ball didn’t leave the park. But the celebration at third base? That was pure, unfiltered and genuine youthful exuberance. And it’s exactly the kind of energy and excitement the Dodgers need in this series.
Cardinals outfielder Carlos Beltran doesn’t see things that way.
“He still thinks he’s playing somewhere else,” Beltran said of Puig. It’s the old “act like you’ve been there” line of reasoning. Except Puig hasn’t been there before. He has never been in the playoffs. Hell, he’s only been in this country for a handful of months! Puig is still adjusting to life in the United States, and the expectations and unwritten rules that govern ballplayers.
Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright admittedly didn’t see Puig’s reaction, but he saw Gonzalez’s and complained that he was “doing some Mickey Mouse stuff at second.”
What did you expect? Gonzalez’s double knocked in the first L.A. run in 22 innings of the series. And this is the playoffs, it’s not a Sunday afternoon game in early May. Stakes are at their highest now, so individual moments should be cause for extreme joy or extreme angst. Down 2-0 in a series where runs are at a premium, Los Angeles was feeling the latter until Gonzalez’s hit finally plated a go-ahead score.
The Cardinals need to shift their focus away from how the Dodgers were reacting and toward the things that went wrong for them in game three. Like toward finding a way to muster more than four hits and no runs. Or toward their defense, which was an uncharacteristic bumbling, fumbling mess Monday.
And it’s not like St. Louis has clean hands when it comes to Mickey Mousing. See Exhibits A and B below.