After gutting out the hairline fracture in his ribs and playing remarkably well in Monday's Game 3, Hanley Ramirez again attempted to play through the discomfort in Game 4. Unfortunately, he didn't hold up as well, lasting only six innings before manager Don Mattingly was forced to protect his superstar and replace him with Nick Punto.
The decision was not a tough one for Mattingly, who acknowledged during his in-game interview with the TBS TV crew that Ramirez wasn't feeling as good as the night before. The discomfort showed in his performance. After going 2 for 4 with an RBI single on Monday, Ramirez finished the game 0 for 3 with three strikeouts. The last of which he didn't move the bat off his shoulders.
Ramirez returned to the field in the next half inning, but remained in communication with the Dodgers bench through hand gestures and head nods. Those conveyed one message — his determination to stay in the game. But the grimace on his face that accompanied each movement conveyed another. He'd given the Dodgers all he could on Tuesday, and if there was any hope of having him back on Wednesday and beyond, he needed to be off the field and resting.
It was the right decision for the long-term, and it nearly paid off for Mattingly in the seventh inning as well. With one out, Punto delivered the Dodgers second double of the game. But just a couple pitches later he was picked off by reliever Carlos Martinez, essentially killing the rally on the spot.
On the Cardinals side of things, third baseman David Freese was also removed from Game 4 early after leaving Game 3 with right calf tightness. Many believed Freese was going to be removed from the Cardinals postseason roster on Tuesday, but he was cleared to play and start during warm ups. He was ultimately pulled in a sixth inning double switch immediately after grounding into an inning-ending double play, but you have to wonder how smart it was to let him play to begin with. He looked nothing close to 100% running up the line.
Freese's status, along with that of Ramirez, will be worth monitoring over the next 12-15 hours. It will be a quick turnaround with an afternoon game scheduled on Wednesday, so their availability would have to be considered questionable at best. That's an especially big concern for Los Angeles, as their season hangs in the balance following a 4-2 loss in Game 4.
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