LOS ANGELES -- Ordinarily, a postseason team coming home with an 0-2 series record could take considerable solace in the homecoming.
Here they would be in familiar circumstances, in front of loyal fans, in the presence of friends and family, to play, in theory at least, three straight games in the many comforts of home.
All of these factors may be at play for the 2013 Los Angeles Dodgers. And yet, the elements that could make this a less than gloriously happy homecoming are certainly evident.
Tale of the Tape: Game 3
|2013 regular season|
|Overall: 30 GS, 14-8, 3.00 ERA, 49 BB, 154 K||Overall: 34 GS, 19-9, 2.94 ERA, 35 BB, 219 K|
|Key stat: Opponents hitting .067 with bases loaded||Key stat: Won 10 road games in regular season|
|At Dodger Stadium|
|2013: 15 GS, 7-4, 2.32 ERA
Career: 15 GS, 7-4, 2.32 ERA
|2013: Did not pitch
Career: 5 GS (6 G), 1-2, 5.16 ERA
|Against this opponent|
|2013: 1 GS, 1-0, 0.00 ERA
Career: 1 GS, 1-0, 0.00 ERA
|2013: 1 GS, 0-1, 3.86 ERA
Career: 10 GS (13 G), 4-4, 3.10 ERA
|Loves to face: Carlos Beltran, 0-for-3
Hates to face: Matt Holliday, 2-for-3
|Loves to face: Mark Ellis, 1-for-12, 2 K
Hates to face: Andre Ethier, 10-for-33, 3 HR
|Why he'll win: Had success against Cardinals in regular season||Why he'll win: Won his last three postseason starts|
|Pitcher beware: Showed nerves in postseason debut||Pitcher beware: Dodgers are dangerous at home|
|Bottom line: Forget about rough outing in NLDS||Bottom line: Set the tone early on the road|
The Dodgers lost the first two games of the 2013 National League Championship Series to the St. Louis Cardinals, despite using their two best pitchers, Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw.
Still, manager Don Mattingly chose to see this particular postseason glass as half-full, noting the two losses had been closely contested and the Dodgers' pitchers had worked well. Thus, the outlook for the rest of the series did not need to be all that gloomy.
"I mean, our guys can pitch," Mattingly said. "We look at what they've been able to do to us, but we've been pretty good, too. They're not exactly going out and throwing six or eight runs up on us.
"It's a matter of us ... getting the outs when you need them and being able to get that key hit. This series, up to this point, we haven't gotten the key hit. We weren't able to put the run up when we needed it. If we get two key hits over the last two days, we win two. We're walking out of here up 2-0. It didn't happen, so we're walking out of here down two."
It is conceivable the Dodgers could start getting those key hits, take charge of the series, win three straight at home and then head back to Busch Stadium in the driver's seat.
But the St. Louis starter in Game 3 will be Adam Wainwright, the most proven postseason pitcher the Cardinals have, the leader of the Redbirds staff, and a man who went 2-0 with a 1.13 ERA in the Division Series against Pittsburgh.
Wainwright will be opposed by lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu, who had a fine regular season, but lasted only three innings, giving up four runs, in a Division Series start against Atlanta.
Wainwright will be the last person in the world to take the Dodgers lightly. In the process of not taking them lightly, he does inject some hope into the equation for the Dodgers.
"We're up two-nothing," Wainwright said. "But the thing that I know is that team over there is very dangerous and they're going to want it. And they're going to be hungry. They're going to want to go out there and give those L.A. fans a good show. So it's going to be very tough. There's no question about it. That team is very good from top to bottom, pitching and hitting. But so are we, and we're very confident so we can go over there and get the job done. And we have a lot of confidence in that happening. But we've got to do it one game at a time, I know that. We're not looking forward to the end of this series. We're going to look forward to Game 3."
Game 3 is scheduled for Monday at 8 p.m. ET on TBS. Making the Dodgers' situation potentially more difficult is the fact that center fielder Andre Ethier, hampered for a month by a microfracture in his lower left leg, is questionable for this game. It is also uncertain whether shortstop Hanley Ramirez will play. Ramirez was hit in the ribs by a pitch in Game 1 and missed Game 2.
If the first two games were any guide, one way or the other, Game 3 will also not be a festival of run production. There were only six runs scored in the first two games, four by the Cardinals, two by the Dodgers.
Ryu, speaking through an interpreter Sunday, said he understood the pressure that was on the Dodgers, but that he was fully ready to be at his best.
"There's always additional pressure when you come back home down 2-0," Ryu said. "I think all of us understand that. We are professionals. We're going to do the best we can to go out there and put our best game forward.
"Now it's a five-game series. We need to win four out of the five, and we'll do the best we can to do that.
"I feel fine. If anything, I actually feel pretty good. I feel really strong. I really don't think it's a matter of how long I've been pitching, but it's about the pitch count and the innings I've pitched.
"If you look at those numbers, I haven't pitched that many innings. So there is no reason my arm isn't in good, top shape right now."
Ryu will have to be at his best. And the Dodgers, someone, somehow, some way, will have to start delivering those key hits, or this series will be headed irretrievably in the Cardinals' direction. Perhaps this will all become more plausible for the Dodgers at home.
Mike Bauman is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.