Adding some intrigue to the NLCS, two Cardinal players spoke out about Dodger celebrations, prompting Los Angeles manager Don Mattingly to fire back.
The Dodger offense, largely absent the first two games of the series, put up only two runs in the first 26 innings.
With one out in the inning, Gonzalez doubled to right off of St. Louis ace Adam Wainwright. After sliding safely into second base, Gonzalez enthusiastically clapped his hands as he peered toward his teammates in the Dodger dugout.
The Cardinal pitcher was not amused.
“I saw Adrian doing some Mickey Mouse stuff on third base,” said an annoyed Wainwright after the game.
Dodger manager Don Mattingly didn't require a Disney reference to characterize Gonzalez’ reaction.
“I had zero problems with Adrian’s hit,” Mattingly said. “They've been stopping us and shutting us down. Adrian gets a big hit for us. That’s it.”
Two batters later, Puig – at that point hitless with seven strikeouts in 11 NLCS at bats – swatted a Wainwright offering deep to right field. Believing he had a homer, Puig flipped his bat high in the air, raised both hands, and started to jog toward first base.
But the ball didn’t leave the park.
Once the 22-year old realized the ball was in play, he kicked it into high gear, motoring all the way to third base. The rookie got up from his slide, yelled at no one in particular, and clapped his hand emphatically.
“I think he doesn't know,” Beltran said. “He still thinks he’s playing somewhere else, I don’t know. He has a lot of passion, no doubt about that. Great ability, great talent, and I think with time, he will learn that you have to sometimes act a little bit more calm. It’s not great, I don’t like it, but what can I say? I don’t play for them. I just play over here and need to do my job.”
Asked for his take on the Cardinal comments, Dodger manager offered a different view.
“I had zero problems the other day when they got out of the bases-loaded jam and Yadier (Molina) pumps his fist,” Mattingly said. “To me that’s just baseball. Again I had zero problems with their celebration the way they do it, and I think our guys were excited that our backs were against the wall.”
“Puig’s been shut down…and he’s excited when he gets a hit,” continued the Dodgers skipper. “So to me, it can’t be a double standard. So that’s the way I look at that part of it.”
What about the Puig flipping his bat and starting a home run trot when the ball never left the field of play? Isn't that showing up the other team?
“The bat thing, really, it’s more our problem than theirs because if he stands there and doesn't run, it goes from a triple to a double; it helps them and hurts us,” Mattingly said. “So that’s more of our issue having to get him to go right way. So you would think they would be excited that he doesn't run from that standpoint, really, because it helps them or has a chance to help them.”
The difference of opinion doesn't figure to spill over to the field of play. In a series where the two teams have combined for only nine runs in 31 innings, it figures players from each side will celebrate the big plays their teams make.
St. Louis manager Mike Matheny brushed aside talk of the Dodgers' celebrations, preferring to focus on his own dugout instead.
“Where I stand and where our guys stand is that we take care of our own self,” Matheny said. “We take care of our business. We go out and play the game the way we think we should be playing in a way that we think it should be played.”
“Anything outside of that is not our responsibility.”
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