At this stage, it's getting ridiculous. Mattingly leaves Clayton Kershaw in for Game 1, when the Cardinals are teeing off his fastball and Kershaw doesn't seem to want to throw anything else, even shaking Mattingly off the mound in the process. Wrong answer. And then in Game 1, he signals for Pedro Baez, who had entered a game with baserunners in only three of his 20 2014 appearances. Also, wrong answer. Then, for Game 2, Mattingly pulls Zack Greinke after seven shutout innings in Game 2, going to J.P. Howell. Wrong answer.
And tonight, Mattingly has Hyun-Jin Ryu plugging along through six solid innings and a 1-1 game, going this time to Scott Elbert, who had struck out both batters he faced in Game 1. Sure thing, right? Nope, wrong answer again; Elbert gives up a leadoff double to Yadier Molina, and then a home run to biblical scholar Kolten Wong, to put the Cards up 3-1 and put the Dodgers down 2-1 in the series. Arguably, Elbert was the wisest choice yet, given Ryu was at 94 pitches coming back from shoulder issues; Scott Van Slyke pinch-hit in the top of the seventh for Ryu, with none on and two out, and grounded to short. But in Mattingly's hands, in this NLDS, the Elbert decision could only go incredibly awry. Which it did.
Sure, we had a chance in the ninth inning with consecutive singles and one out off of Trevor Rosenthal. Cardinals manager Mike Metheny calmly came out when Rosenthal was down 2-0 in the count to Juan Uribe, delayed the game while calling for the grounds crew to apply a drying agent ("drying agent"? sort of like Lana Kane in Archer?) to the mound, and allowed his closer to catch his breath. Rosenthal then got Uribe and A.J. Ellis to fly out to right field, and end the game.
Mattingly has made regrettable pitching decisions in each of the three NLDS games. Metheny, on the other hand, has seemed to slow the game down when his team looks unwieldy. This contrast cannot be underlined more, as it's swinging the series.
You look up and down the two lineups, and with the exception of Matt Carpenter's torrid run and Juan Uribe's lack of jazz hands this series, we should be ahead in this series, not down 2-1. I'd like to think that, with Kershaw starting Game 4 and Greinke starting a possible Game 5, we have a shot at winning this series in five games.
That is, if baseball games were six innings long. At a full nine innings? We're bound to choose the wrong answer, again. That was easy.