10/08/2004 8:23 PM ET
Notes: Dodgers gaining experience
Tracy hopes club can take advantage of opportunities
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
LOS ANGELES -- Aside from Steve Finley, no Dodgers position starter had postseason experience before Tuesday. By comparison, every member of the Cardinals' starting lineup came into the series having played in October.
|Jayson Werth watches his solo home run in the first inning of Game 2. (Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Does big-game experience translate into the clutch play that has put the Cardinals in position to sweep the National League Division Series with a win in Game 3 on Saturday night?
"You could definitely make that argument for sure," said outfielder Jayson Werth, who has a home run and an RBI double in the series. "They have veteran, solid players. We're definitely young. Maybe with a couple of games under our belt, we'll settle in and get after it."
And perhaps it won't be too late in this best-of-five series as it shifts to Dodger Stadium after a pair of 8-3 St. Louis victories at Busch Stadium.
Statistically, the Cardinals have had tremendous success with two outs, going 7-for-15 in each game with 13 total RBIs.
Dodgers manager Jim Tracy, accentuating the positive, told reporters on Friday that the games were closer than the scores indicated.
"There have been key moments in both of those games where we had an opportunity to capitalize and let it get away," said Tracy. "Then they get the same opportunity and get the two-out hits."
"The guys for them coming through, like Mike Methany and Reggie Sanders, when you're going over their lineup in the meeting with the pitchers and you pick out the guys you don't want to let beat you, it's not them," said catcher David Ross.
"I don't know if they're clutch, or we have a little mental letdown by our pitchers after they get past the middle of the order. Clutch definitely has to do with mental focus. You never can give in against that lineup. You have to fight until you can't fight anymore.
"Their hitters, they're not going to give you easy outs. They're not going to pop up or roll over with runners on first and second. You never get the ground-ball double play we've been getting all year. When you get two outs, you can't let up on the third guy or he'll beat you. We've got to finish the deal and we haven't been doing that."
Maybe the Cardinals, who are 5-0 against L.A. in St. Louis this season, just have the Dodgers' number.
"They have a lot of people's number, not just us," said Robin Ventura. "If they beat us in the series, obviously you concede that they're better. But until the last out, you don't give up or lay down. You just play hard.
"We had scoring opportunities and had good hitters up there, Steve Finley and Adrian Beltre, and their guy got us out. We just didn't get it done, and they beat us and that's the way it goes. I'd take my chances with Finley or Beltre and guys on [base]."
Watching the Cardinals take advantage when the Dodgers couldn't, Werth contends that being battle tested could be a plus for the opposition.
"There's a combination I see of talent, experience and a lot of will power," he said. "When I got that hit against the Giants in the ninth [that tied the game on Oct. 2 before Finley's grand slam won the game and clinched the West Division], I was down in the count, 1-2, and told myself I would not fail. Maybe there's a little of that going on over there."
Lima Time comes early: As if Thursday night wasn't tough enough.
The Dodgers lost Game 2, spent an extra hour on the tarmac because of a mechanical malfunction on their plane, finally flew into Los Angeles and boarded the bus to the ballpark at 4:30 a.m. PT when Jose Lima's stereo woke everybody with merengue music by his band, La Fuga.
"He was getting fired up already," said Eric Gagne. "He always wakes us up. He's the one that always gets everything going. That's good. He changed the mood last night. Everybody was down a little bit. He came in at 4:30, started dancing, started singing. He's always positive."
Catching flip-flop: Brent Mayne, who caught Odalis Perez in Game 1 but watched Ross catch Jeff Weaver in Game 2, returns behind the plate to catch Lima in Game 3 on Saturday night.
Lima's ERA when Mayne catches is 2.57; when Ross catches, his ERA is 5.06. When Paul Lo Duca caught the right-hander his ERA was 4.31. Mayne caught Lima last year with Kansas City.
Bradley to play: Outfielder Milton Bradley, troubled by his left hamstring in Game 2, is expected to play in Game 3. Tracy said Bradley had a cramp.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.