Hyun-Jin Ryu was knocked out of his last start – and pitched seven shutout innings in this one.
Yasiel Puig was striking out too much – and hit a funky cold triple in this one.
Hanley Ramirez was hurt – and then he had the big hit.
Meet the new Dodgers – same as the good ol’ Dodgers.
Ready to be buzzed out of the playoffs like a game of Operation, the Dodgers turned the tables on the St. Louis Cardinals and ground out a 3-0 victory in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series, closing to within a game of evening things.
The night amounted to one sudden, giant reversal of the series’ narrative, as proud St. Louis wasted its ace, Adam Wainwright, and played alternatively sloppy and careless on defense and the basepaths, while the Dodgers got the key hits, the key hustle and the key “game of inches” moments.
That includes Puig’s fourth-inning RBI triple, which looked like a home run to me when it left the bat – and just the same to Puig, who paused to admire the shot for a moment before launching the rockets. He still made it into third, standing up, leading some to wonder whether he might have had an inside-the-park home run had he run from the outset. Me, I thought he was trying to hit for the cycle in one at-bat.
Puig’s RBI was actually the second of the inning, following doubles by Mark Ellis and Adrian Gonzalez that ended the Dodgers’ longest postseason scoreless streak since the 1966 World Series at 22 innings. (Puig’s hit ended his own 0-for-11 slump in the NLCS.) For all we knew, that first run would be the only one the Dodgers would get, and it came as a huge combination of relief and hope,. Puig’s triple, however, was the blow that really seemed to announce the Dodgers might be back.
Hardly independent of this was the adventures in center field by St. Louis’ John Jay, who had a hat trick of misplays that made Andre Ethier’s Game 1 outfield whiff on Carlos Beltran look relatively tame. Then came a combination of calamity in the top of the fifth for the Cardinals: Third baseman David Freese had to leave the game with a calf injury, and moments later, pinch-runner Daniel Descalso made a bad read on a fly ball to Carl Crawford and was doubled off second base.
That ended the biggest threat of the night against Ryu, who otherwise was in control from start to finish during his seven innings of shutout ball, allowing three hits and a walk. The Dodger bullpen didn’t even throw a warmup toss until a bloop single by Yadier Molina with one out in the seventh, but after Descalso grounded out, Ryu struck out Matt Adams to end his night with a flourish. Ryu became the first Dodger lefty since Jerry Reuss in 1981 to throw at least seven shutout innings in the playoffs.
Following a shutout frame by Brian Wilson, Los Angeles added one more insurance run in exciting fashion in the bottom of the eighth, with Ramirez, damaged rib and all, hitting a blooper to center field with two on and one out, and Carl Crawford hauling around third base to narrowly beat the throw home by backup infielder Kolten Wong.
Kenley Jansen put out the side in order in the ninth, and the Dodgers had their victory.
Coming up next … who starts Game 4 for the Dodgers?