I am not a sore loser, but there was something that happened during the top of the ninth inning of the Dodger’s 3-1 loss to the Cardinals in game 3 of their five game NLDS that was completely unfair to the Dodgers. Look I understand that the Cardinals just simply outplayed the Dodgers. John Lackey pitched a great game, matching Hyun-jin Ryu pitch for pitch, and the Dodger’s offense took a dump. Never mind the fact that Adrian Gonzalez failed to score a runner from third with less than two outs twice in the game. Never mind home plate umpire Dale Scott’s wildly inconsistent strike zone that heavily skewed in the Cardinals favor all night long. Never mind that Matt Carpenter is suddenly hitting like the second coming of Ted Williams, and nobody save for Kenley Jansen in the Dodger bullpen can get anybody out. No, I’m not going to talk about all that.
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I want to talk about Mike Matheny’s sudden gardening delay in the top of the ninth inning on Monday night. I think it was blatantly shady and despicable. Let me setup the particulars for you. It’s the top of the ninth inning, and the Dodgers are trailing 3-1. In desperate need of base runners, the Dodgers begin a one-out rally against Cardinal’s closer Trevor Rosenthal, who has been lackluster in this series.
Hanley Ramirez singles up the middle, and then Carl Crawford follows with a flare single into center. The Dodgers have runners at first and second with one out, with Juan Uribe and catcher A.J. Ellis due up to bat. The first two pitches to Uribe from Rosenthal are so wide that not even Dale Scott himself can justify calling those pitches strikes. Although I’m sure Fox Sports 1 announcer and Cardinal’s homer Joe “Red” Buck thought they were.
With the count 2-0 on Uribe, Cardinal’s manager Mike Matheny comes out to have a mound visit with Rosenthal. Now if this were just a mound visit to discuss Rosenthal’s lackluster pitching, then I have no problem with that. Mound visits are allowed. That’s not what this was though.
From the Fox Sports 1 cameras we can see that right hander Carlos Martinez is warming up in the Cardinal’s bullpen. Matheny is now on the mound speaking with Rosenthal. All of a sudden we see him pointing to something. I figure he’s pointing to the bullpen to make a pitching change. Normally managers don’t make pitching changes in the middle of counts, but ok. Maybe Matheny saw something with Rosenthal’s mechanics that he didn’t like.
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So are the Cardinals making a pitching change? Is Matheny pointing to Carlos Martinez to come in? No, he’s pointing at the…..grounds crew! That’s right, Matheny was calling for a groundskeeper. I didn’t realize the Cardinals can have a gardening delay in the middle of Uribe’s at-bat. Keep in mind the Dodgers didn’t stop the game when it was suddenly pouring rain when Scott Elbert was on the mound in the bottom of the seventh before he allowed a double to Yadier Molina. Especially considering the rain could have affected Elbert’s grip on his pitches.
So not only does Matheny get to delay the game long enough for Martinez to warm up, but also long enough for Rosenthal to get a breather to figure out his shaky mechanics. And Rosenthal was allowed to make warm-up pitches while the grounds crew slowly peppered the mound with fresh dirt. I have no idea why Don Mattingly didn’t say anything about this. What’s next?
The whole thing was ridiculous. And the result of Uribe’s at-bat was also predictable. Immediately after the mound gardening, Rosenthal got the next pitch over for a strike. Of course he did, because he had a full ten minutes of extra warm-ups. The delay interrupted the Dodger’s rally. Uribe eventually flied out to right. A.J. Ellis also flied out to right, and the Dodgers lost 3-1.
The Dodgers should have protested this, and these kind of shenanigans should not be allowed during the regular season let alone the postseason. What a charade.
I think Joe Buck, Mike Matheny, and umpire Dale Scott should all have dinner tonight at Buck’s St. Louis restaurant after this orchestration. I can’t wait to see what the trio has in store next for the Dodgers in game 4. Perhaps giving the Cardinals an extra out per inning? Why not just let Shelby Miller sit down for a tea break any time the Dodgers get a runner on base. Maybe we can serve tea and strumpets to all of the Cardinal’s position players after every out. How about forcing Clayton Kershaw to pitch right handed for the first three innings? I’m sure Joe Buck would love these new ideas.