ST. LOUIS — Yasiel Puig did not appear to appreciate the questions from reporters about why he is 0 for 10 with six strikeouts through two games of the National League Championship Series.
Are you pressing at the plate? Why aren't you hitting like you did in the division series round? What are the St. Louis Cardinals pitchers doing to you? English or Spanish, it didn't matter, and Puig didn't really need to wait for any translations. He didn't like being told he was failing the Los Angeles Dodgers.
"It happens in the game. They have a catcher (Yadier Molina) who knows what he's doing back there, their pitchers are really good and they struck me out four times," Puig said of his personal results in Game 2.
Frequently an adventure in the outfield, Puig also misplayed a hit by Matt Carpenter into a triple by taking a questionable route, falling down and overthrowing two cutoff men. Clayton Kershaw was able to pitch around it, but nobody can keep a team scoreless forever. Apparently unless they're pitching against the Dodgers, who haven't crossed home plate in 19 innings.
Still, Puig is right about his own batting.
The Cardinals are good. And it's only 10 at-bats. It's only two games. The smallest of sample sizes, almost. It's nothing, mathematically. Of course, it's everything in the physical world. The Dodgers season might last only two more games, if the Cardinals happen to sweep them at Dodger Stadium. Unfairly so, but if Puig keeps going hitless and striking out, the narrative of his wonderful rookie story is going to turn kind of sour.
Puig might have hit .319/.391/.534 with 19 homers during the regular season, and followed up with .471/.500/.529 in 18 plate appearances against the Braves in the NLDS, but what did he do for the Dodgers lately? What did he do when Hanley Ramirez and Andre Ethier couldn't start in Game 2, and Puig had to hit cleanup?
He went 0 for 4 with four strikeouts, including a failure with the bases loaded and one out in the sixth, the Dodgers best chance to score.
Puig also contributed to the ugly Dodgers stat of going 1 for 16 with runners in scoring position in the series. So it's not just him. But somebody has to step forward with Ramirez out, because of sore ribs, and with Ethier out, because of his sore left ankle.
"We are all wishing Hanley the best, hoping he can get back in the lineup and help us in the playoffs," Puig said. "But in the meantime, we have to do our best to make sure his absence isn’t felt."
So, you're sure there's nothing wrong with your swing, Yasiel?
"It’s the same swing I’ve always had, it’s the same swing I had against Atlanta, I just didn’t succeed today," Puig said.
Well, today and yesterday.
And yet, Puig is right again. His swing does seem the same. It's what he always has done. Swing hard at fastballs, flail away at breaking stuff in the dirt. He's called "Wild Horse" by Dodgers announcer Vin Scully because Puig plays over the edge of control sometimes. It works for him often, but it hasn't against Michael Wacha, Joe Kelly and the Cardinals bullpen.
The Dodgers have lost twice to the Cardinals by scores of 3-2 in 13 innings and 1-0. They haven't needed a lot of offense the past two games. They just needed a little more than they got. They needed their wild horse to get loose.