Down 2-0 in NLCS, Dodgers appear doomed

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Not even 24 hours into a seven-game series, the Dodgers’ World Series hopes are already on life support. By failing to secure either of the first two games with Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw on the mound, they’ve become huge long shots to defeat the Cardinals in the NLCS.

If there’s any reason for the Dodgers to take heart, it’s that the matchups haven’t dictated the series so far. The Dodgers figured to have the edges in the first two games, even with the series in St. Louis, because they had their big two going and the Cardinals were starting Joe Kelly and Michael Wacha. Obviously, it didn’t work out as they’d like. But they can psyche themselves up by claiming their own underdog status now, especially against Adam Wainwright in Game 3.

Unfortunately, the Dodgers now have to beat Wainwright once if they’re going to win the series. And Hyun-Jin Ryu didn’t appear up to that kind of task during a shaky NLDS start against the Braves. Rumored to be battling elbow and/or back problems, he gave up four runs in three innings in that one.

But Monday’s Game 3 will be practically a must-win game against a pitcher who is 4-0 with a 2.03 ERA and a 57/7 K/BB ratio in 48 2/3 career innings in the postseason. A victory will be even more improbable if Hanley Ramirez, the Dodgers’ best hitter, can’t go after injuring his ribs on a HBP in Game 1 and missing Game 2. Ramirez’s absence played a huge role in Saturday’s 1-0 loss; he’s performed as well as anyone in the National League when healthy this season.

Without Ramirez, the Dodgers could well go down quietly from here. Yasiel Puig seems lost at the plate, Andre Ethier is limited and Game 4 starter Ricky Nolasco was a disaster at the end of the regular season. Things couldn’t possibly have broken better for the Cardinals.

MLB fines and suspends Yasiel Puig two games for Tuesday’s incident with Giants

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Major League Baseball has announced that Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig has been fined and suspended two games for his role in Tuesday night’s benches-clearing incident with the Giants.

Puig was upset with himself after fouling off a hittable pitch, tossing his bat up and grabbing it angrily. Catcher Nick Hundley didn’t like Puig’s expression of emotion and had a few words for him. Puig didn’t like what Hundley said and the two got into a shoving match before the benches emptied. Puig was able to get past his teammates attempting to restrain him to smack Hundley across the catcher’s mask. MLB’s press release characterizes Puig’s role as having “incited a bench-clearing incident.”

The Dodgers are off Thursday, Puig would be slated to miss Friday and Saturday’s games. However, Puig is appealing his punishment, which means he can continue to play until the matter is settled.

Hundley was fined but did not receive a suspension. If MLB’s press release were accurate, it would have characterized Hundley, not Puig, of inciting Tuesday’s benches-clearing incident. Puig was upset at no one but himself until Hundley inserted himself into the picture. Of course, this is by no means excusing Puig’s behavior as he should have been fined and suspended. But Hundley should have been suspended as well.