Next comes the first look at Hanley Ramirez, of the he's-in-he's-out pregame dance.
The Dodgers failed to score against Michael Wacha in the first, which is starting to feel uncomfortably familiar.
Carl Crawford did beat out an infield hit to start the game but was erased when Mark Elllis bounced into a double play. Adrian Gonzalez, after a solid round of boos after he was introduced, bounced out sharply to third.
The Dodgers must have found some magic potion, or something, because now Hanley Ramirez is back in the lineup.
Ramirez was originally scratched, though Manager Don Mattingly had given himself some wiggle room. He said this before the game:
"If something would change before game time, we'd switch up. All of a sudden he's trying to do things and he could get loose, he may be in there. But I don't anticipate that."
Maybe Ramirez is trying to do a Willis Reed, but the Dodgers best watch him closely. This is not something they'd want to blow up on them, what with their season only on the line.
Ramirez is back at shortstop and batting cleanup.
The Dodgers understandably have always seemed a more confident team with Hanley Ramirez in the middle of the lineup.
“If he’s healthy the whole season, he’s the league MVP,” said Nick Punto.
But it’s Punto no Ramirez in the Dodgers lineup at shortstop as they attempt to avoid elimination in tonight’s Game 6 in St. Louis, not Ramirez.
Ramirez has succumbed to the broken rib he suffered in the opener. Given that his swing has hardly been the same since, it seems the smart decision, even though Manager Don Mattingly hoped following Thursday’s off-day, Ramirez might actually have felt slightly better Friday.
“I expected (with) yesterday off and kind of a full day today, that he'd be a little better,” Mattingly said. “But I think maybe the lack of activity, (it) may even have just gotten stiffer or tighter. He didn't really say anything like that. Just more that he feels worse today than did he yesterday.”
Mattingly was unsure if Ramirez might get his side loose enough for him to be able to pinch hit later in the game.
“I think these are the games you want to play,” Mattingly said. “Your guys get excited. You've worked all year long for this. Kershaw and Wacha obviously, this is a cool matchup. These are two quality guys going at it. Two teams that want to move on.”
With Ramirez out, Mattingly moved rookie Yasiel Puig into the cleanup spot.
“The thought process really is to try and get some more offense if we can,” Matheny said. “It's no secret how effective Kershaw has been against left-handed hitters and he's a tough assignment.”
Left-handed hitters hit .165 against Kershaw in the regular season, but right-handers weren’t much better, hitting .202