LOS ANGELES -- There isn't going to be any "backs against the wall" tripe in this account of the Los Angeles Dodgers being one loss away from postseason elimination. This is not a firing squad. This is Game 5 of the 2013 National League Championship Series, scheduled for Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET on TBS.
If the Dodgers lose, their season will be end. But life and limb are not projected to be at stake here. If the Dodgers lose to the St. Louis Cardinals, as they have in three of the previous four games in this NLCS, they will still have bright futures, individually and collectively. A new and aggressive ownership and the built-in advantages of market size should make the Dodgers a model franchise, once again, over time.
As to their current 3-1 deficit, the Dodgers have done a magnificent job of containing the Redbirds' offense, which led the league in runs scored this season. St. Louis has scored only eight runs in four games. But Los Angeles has scored only seven, and therein the problem can be found.
The Dodgers cannot look upon this situation as requiring a three-game winning streak. That is, in fact, the requirement, but they can only focus on Wednesday's game, hoping to survive against Cards starter Joe Kelly, so they can go back to St. Louis for a game on Friday and then go through the process again hoping to reach a Game 7 on Saturday.
There isn't much solace to be taken from this situation. The Cardinals are a tough club, owners of the NL's best record this regular season, and they have been pitching brilliantly.
What the Dodgers can take heart from is the fact that they have Zack Greinke pitching in Game 5. If they get to Game 6, they would have Clayton Kershaw going. And for Game 7, they would have Hyun-Jin Ryu, who shut out the Cards for seven innings in the only game the Dodgers have won in this series.
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly seized upon this theme when he spoke Tuesday night about his team's chances.
"Kind of the best thought I have is I've got one of the best pitchers in baseball pitching [Wednesday]," Mattingly said. "If we come out here and we play well tomorrow and get a win, I've got probably the best pitcher in baseball pitching the next day.
"Ryu hasn't been too bad. So if there's any good thoughts, it's that I know [Wednesday] we'll come ready to play. It's a quick turnaround. We don't have time to feel sorry for ourselves. That's all there is to it.
"I don't think we need to think about winning three. We need to win one. That's all we need to do is win one game. We've got a pretty good guy on the hill [Wednesday]. You feel like you're going to have a pretty good chance of winning [Wednesday]. So we'll see where it goes."
The Cardinals, meanwhile, will typically be taking nothing for granted. Twice previously, they have led the NLCS 3-1 and lost: In 1996 against the Braves and last season against the Giants.
"Honestly, I think the team will look at it very narrow-minded that we've got to come out and try to win a game [Wednesday], and we can't get ahead of ourselves," said Matt Holliday, who hit a key home run in Game 4. "This team that we're playing against is way too good to think that for some reason it's not going to be a very tough task to get one more win."
"We really don't get too much beyond what we have [Wednesday], and [we] realize that we have to go out and play a good game," Cards manager Mike Matheny said. "We've got to have the solid pitching and play a clean defense. [We had] a great move forward in that department [Tuesday], much more characteristic of our club. We just go out and get ready for [Wednesday's] game."
With its abundant supply of extremely talented young pitchers and solid organizational base, the St. Louis franchise has a future that also looks very promising. But for now, only one of these teams will get to have the World Series in its immediate future.
Mike Bauman is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.