Dodgers Turn NLDS Upside Down
Janine Roach Carl Crawford
Updated at the bottom with Clayton Kershaw taking the mound.
Presumably Jimmy Buffett wasn't thinking of the Dodgers' 1978 run to the National League pennant when he titled his album "You Had to be There" that same year. And comics Nikki Glaser and Sara Schaefer couldn't have had last night's stirring contest at Chavez Ravine in mind when they shot their last "You Had to be There" podcast either, but maybe for their next one.
Because you really had to be there, or be joined at the tube for the entire four hours and one minute of playoff baseball to get the full effect. Los Angeles beat Atlanta 13-6 to take a two-games-to-one lead in the National League Division Series, with a chance to close out the series tonight. Beat them like an Indian with a drum, you might say -- you might say, if you were a tad bit racially insensitive, ala the Braves fans with their awful tomahawk chop and accompanying sing-song chant.
Dodger fans mocked their Southern counterparts with a chant of their own, waving their giveaway Dodger Blue rally towels in a chop-like motion, while thoroughly enjoying the proceedings.
The highlights are almost too many to mention. A tables-turning three-run home run by Carl Crawford in the second inning, run scoring singles from Adrian Gonzalez and Skip Schumaker in the third, a two-run homer by Juan Uribe in the fourth and three clutch innings of relief work courtesy of Chris Capuano, a last minute addition to the NLDS roster.
Oh, and the continuing and rousing performances from Yasiel Puig and Hanley Ramirez; again, which are almost too many track. Puig, on the bases, in the field and with his three hits, three runs and two RBIs; Ramirez with a single, double, triple, three runs and two RBIs, to go along with his ridiculous .538/.571/1.231 in the series.
And Crawford, with two hits in addition the homer, three runs, and spectacular head-over-heals catch of Brian McCann's foul ball in the eighth (see photo above).
The game wasn't without issues for the home team however. Hyun-Jin Ryu was beyond shaky in his first playoff outing (nervous or injured, depending on who you believe), Paco Rodriguez looks completely lost out of the pen, and several players are nursing injuries, some of which were exacerbated during last night's game. Those aren't too many to mention, just too frightening: Crawford (back), Ramirez (back) and Puig (knee).
There is also some doubt as to L.A.'s starting pitcher in tonight's Game 3, 6:37 p.m. at Dodger Stadium. Ricky Nolasco is scheduled to go, there is indication from the club that he will go, and he absolutely should go. There is also some talk of Clayton Kershaw getting the ball on three days' rest, which is almost never a good idea, especially after his 236 regular season innings and a 124-pitch effort Thursday in Game 1.
I imagine Don Mattingly and company are just trying to keep the Braves in the dark, and that Nolasco will get the ball as planned. And for all we know, it'll be Atlanta opting to surprise with Kris Medlen in their elimination game, instead of 37-year-old journeyman Freddy Garcia.
You really do have to be there, either in person -- pay for the privilege via Craiglist, StubHub, and the like -- or don't miss a pitch of the telecast on TBS. Just be there.
[Update at 12:29 p.m.]: The Dodgers have announced that Clayton Kershaw will start tonight's game.