NEW YORK — Manager Don Mattingly has a warning for all those who are writing off a $300-million Dodgers team that was pushed to the brink of elimination by the Mets Monday night: “Don’t write the epitaph,” Mattingly told CBS Sports long after the Dodgers’ 13-7 defeat to the Mets. “We are not ready for the epitaph.”
The Dodgers’ star-studded clubhouse was especially somber following the loss that put them behind 2-1 in the five-game National League Division Series. But the words from Mattingly, and also from inspirational leader Jimmy Roillins, told a different tale.
“We got (Clayton) Kershaw tomorrow. I feel good about that,” Mattingly said. “Win tomorrow, and it’s back to our place.”
The Dodgers haven’t looked especially good so far, with their only win in three games coming after the controversial slide of Chase Utley (who Mattingly insisted he isn’t hiding, and will play despite him never getting off the bench in Game 3) and a replay reversal that gave Utley second base. Those two events led to the Dodgers’ 5-2 Game 2 victory, following big hits by Justin Turner and Adrian Gonzalez.
The Mets have a superb quartet of talented young starters, and that makes it tough. But the Dodgers are once again counting on their big two — first the three-time Cy Young winner Kershaw, and then possible 2015 Cy Young winner Zack Greinke. It’s not so terrible holding a pair of aces in the hole.
“Other than being down 2-1, we’ve got a pretty good shot,” Rollins said. “There are three guys you’d want in that spot. One plays is in Chicago (Jake Arrieta). The other two play for us.”
The Dodgers have the stars, of that there is no doubt, but that oft-cited $300-million payroll is in many ways a misnomer, with much of that money going to players who aren’t currently playing for them, such as Matt Kemp, Dan Haren, Dee Gordon, Michael Morse, Mat Latos, Hector Olivera and others.
Of course, they still have some very big stars. Speaking of which, Mattingly isn’t concerned about the short rest for Kershaw in Game 4 on Tuesday. He pointed out Kershaw threw six scoreless at St. Louis last postseason before hanging one pitch, to Matt Adams, and he’s been fine other times on short rest as well.
“If you really look at it, his numbers on short rest are good,” Mattingly said. “I’m not worried about him.”
He’s not so much worried about Utley, either, Mattingly insisted. Utley, the marked man at Citi Field, at least from a fans’ perspective, didn’t play in Game 3. But Mattingly insisted that doesn’t mean he’s being hidden. Mets faithful chanted “We want Utley” throughout the blowout game (and other less printable things) in Game 4. It was Utley’s ultra-aggressive slide in Game 3 that knocked Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada out for the series.
Utley never left the bench as Mattingly employed multiple pinch hitters in an effort to get back into a game they once trailed 13-4. But Mattingly denied he is hiding Utley in an attempt to spare him the beanball that was prescribed by the New York tabloids. Mattingly said that’s all fan and media talk, and it’s not based on reality.
“Terry’s not into that. He’s here to win. And I’m here to win,” said Mattingly, reffering to Mets manager Terry Collins.
He also doesn’t believe there are any potential “free shots” at Utley, even in a blowout game such as this one.
“There are no freebies,” Mattingly said. “There’s always a price.”
In any case, the Dodgers aren’t paying a price by purposely putting him on ice here before the hostile crowd.
“I’m not worried about Chase, at all,” Mattingly said. “We’ll use Chase. There wasn’t a spot for Chase at all. A guy like that we’re trying to use in the right spot. I think he’s our best pinch hitter. We want him up with the game on the line.”
Utley will hit, Mattingly said. But Utley apparently isn’t speaking. Attempts to talk to him were cut off, with a spokesman saying he wouldn’t be answering questions until “due process” had played out. Due process may take awhile, as it turns out, with Utley and MLB agreeing to delay his appeal while the sides can prepare. The question now is how much longer the high-priced Dodgers last.
The Dodgers did not have much go their way in Game 3. (USATSI)
This entry passed through the Full-Text RSS service – if this is your content and you’re reading it on someone else’s site, please read the FAQ at fivefilters.org/content-only/faq.php#publishers.
Powered by WPeMatico