Dodgers know how to stage comebacks
Cardinals realize NLCS foe is dangerous as series shifts to Los Angeles
ST. LOUIS -- Remember, former NBA star Magic Johnson is a key member of the Dodgers' ownership group. And Dodgers president Stan Kasten was once the general manager and president of the NBA Atlanta Hawks.
So it's hard to blame Dodgers manager Don Mattingly if he wants to reach out to the NBA to try to defuse the media bluster after the Dodgers fell behind 2-0 in the best-of-seven National League Championship Series against St. Louis.
The Dodgers haven't played a game yet, much less lost a game, at Dodger Stadium, where the series resumes with a Game 3 on Monday, Game 4 on Wednesday and a Game 5, if needed, Thursday.
And as improbable as overcoming an 0-2 deficit in a best-of-seven series might seem, it's not impossible. Since the LCS was extended to a best-of-seven in 1985, there hasn't been an NL team to rally from an 0-2 deficit to advance to the World Series. In 1985, however, not only did the Kansas City Royals fall behind 0-2 against both Toronto in the American League Championship Series and St. Louis in the World Series, but they overcame 1-3 deficits both times, including winning the final two games of the ALCS in Toronto.
Nine years ago, the Boston Red Sox actually rallied after losing the first three games of the ALCS with the Yankees to not only claim the AL pennant, but then swept St. Louis in four games in the World Series.
The Dodgers even had to stage a major in-season comeback of their own to get where they are today. Remember, this is a team that was 12 games below .500 (30-42) on June 21 and in last place in the NL West, 9 1/2 games out of first. A month later, they were atop the division for good, thanks to a 21-5 spurt. They went from June 22 through Aug. 17 without losing back-to-back games, putting together a 42-8 run to take charge.
"It's frustrating," said first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, "but we started this season on a low note and showed the ability to turn it around."
Or as Yogi Berra put it so succinctly, "It ain't over `til it's over."
Yes, the Cardinals have a 2-0 edge, winning two games at Busch Stadium in which the two starting pitchers (Joe Kelly and Michael Wacha ) had a combined 24 starts during the regular season.
Yes, the Cardinals won both those games despite facing the Dodgers' two aces, Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw, who combined to allow only three runs, two earned, in 14 innings.
Yes, the Cardinals now have the luxury of Adam Wainwright, fresh off his NL Division Series-clinching Game 5 win against Pittsburgh last Wednesday, rested and ready for the Game 3 start in Los Angeles on Monday (8 p.m. ET, TBS).
No, that doesn't mean any concession or victory speeches are in order.
"We're up two-nothing, but the thing that I know is that team over there is very dangerous and they're going to want it," said Wainwright, 19-9 during the regular season and a winner twice against Pittsburgh in the Division Series. "They're going to be hungry when we get to L.A. They're going to want to go out there and give those L.A. fans a good show. So it's going to be very tough."
Not that Wainwright is foolish enough to downplay the edge the Cardinals have gained.
"We're very confident, so we can go over there and get the job done," said Wainwright. "And we have a lot of confidence in that happening. But we've got to do it one game at a time, I know that. We're not looking forward to the end of this series. We're going to look forward to Game 3."
So are the Dodgers, although they know there is a major issue that has to be addressed with their lack of offensive production. Remember, they lost the first two games, 3-2 in 13 innings Friday and then 1-0 on an unearned run Saturday, with their two aces dealing.
What they haven't done is hit. They were 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position Saturday, including Wacha striking out Yasiel Puig and Juan Uribe with the bases loaded in the sixth. That came after a 1-for-10 struggle with men in scoring position Friday, which included Kelly striking out Gonzalez and Puig to strand runners on second and third in the first inning.
But then Puig is in an 0-for-10 NLCS stupor, striking out six times, including all four at-bats Saturday when he was moved into the No. 4 slot to protect Gonzalez because Hanley Ramirez's ribs were still aching from the fastball he took Friday night and was a late scratch.
"I give [the Cardinals' pitchers] some credit, and also we've just got to be able to execute with men on third," said Mattingly.
The Dodgers' survival is dependent upon their ability to start to execute.
Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.