ST. LOUIS -- Disbelief and skepticism lingered Saturday over Don Mattingly's eighth-inning strategy in Friday night's 3-2 loss in the National League Championship Series opener against St. Louis. But the Dodgers' manager remained cool and composed.
Mattingly's removal of first baseman Adrian Gonzalez for pinch-runner Dee Gordon prompted widespread media criticism after the 13-inning loss. Gordon's entry didn't make an impact, as he was erased on Yasiel Puig's fielder's-choice grounder. Moreover, the Dodgers lost Gonzalez, their valuable cleanup hitter, for the final five innings. Gonzalez's replacement, Michael Young, was retired with runners in scoring position to end the 10th and 12th innings.
After a short night's sleep and scant hours to reflect on the matter, Mattingly insisted that he'd implement the same changes if he had another opportunity.
"That's why Dee's on the team," Mattingly said. "We have a chance to win a game right there. You don't know if you're going to go 13, you don't know if Adrian's going to come back up, we don't know that Puig doesn't hit a ball in the gap right there and he scores. Or [if he] hits a ball, we go first to third and win that game right there. There are a lot of things we don't know. We know after the fact; we just don't know during the thing. ... There are a number of guys that if they lead off that inning with a hit, Dee's going to run. It's not just Adrian."
But Gordon didn't run.
"We know we're not going to bunt there with Yasiel. So it's not like [Gordon] has to go first pitch," Mattingly said. "Part of Dee being out there is the fact that the pitcher has to rush a little bit. He's got to be aware of Dee, and there are a number of plays that Dee affects. Even the [ground] ball that they got him at second, he's trying to basically run there and got caught. Didn't get quite the jump he wanted and then got stuck. If he has a regular lead there, he's probably safe at second on that ball."
Mattingly cited two deterrents to sending Gordon: the quick delivery of Cardinals right-hander Carlos Martinez, who pitched the eighth inning, and catcher Yadier Molina's penchant for throwing out would-be basestealers.
"So," Mattingly said, "we've got to get something in our favor that tells us [Gordon's] going to make that."
Dodgers not concerned with quick turnaround
ST. LOUIS -- It was a bleary-eyed group of players who arrived at Busch Stadium late Saturday morning, fresh -- or not so fresh -- off a brief night of sleep at their nearby hotels. Game 1 of the National League Championship Series did not end until 12:25 p.m. CT, forcing both teams to endure a quick turnaround before Game 2's 3:07 p.m. first pitch, local time.
"I don't think there's anything hard about it," Dodgers second baseman Mark Ellis said. "You just get up. This is what we've done the whole season. We've done it for a long time. So you just get up and you get excited to play the game."
For some, that may be easier than others. Catchers A.J. Ellis and Yadier Molina, for example, squatted behind the plate for a combined 26 innings of the Cardinals' Game 1 victory. Each was back in the lineup the following afternoon.
"It's the postseason, it's playoffs -- you feel great," A.J. Ellis said. "Woke up today feeling fresh, ready to play, excited. There is no time right now for bumps and bruises and aches and pains. That goes away. That's what adrenaline is for."
Still, tell that to Andre Ethier, who was out of the Game 2 lineup to rest his injured left ankle, or to Hanley Ramirez, who was a late scratch with bruised ribs. Even if most players had no trouble bouncing back after Game 1, the turnaround can be tougher to handle at the back end of a long season -- particularly given the emotions of playoff baseball.
"I think everybody had a little trouble coming back down," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "You never know how long that [game] is going to last, so you just try to keep yourself pushed, and I know the guys were trying to keep themselves amped up. It's hard not to with the crowd and the situation. But then it's hard to come back down. You look up at the clock and it's 12:30 when you're getting out of here, and you're looking at the clock at 2:30 trying to get some sleep.
"Everybody came in good this morning. They look like they're ready to go. Both sides are dealing with the same thing."
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, and follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat. Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDicomo. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.