When the Dodger Stadium crowd wasn’t booing Yasmani Grandal or chanting his backup’s name, the fans largely sat in a disappointed hush while the Milwaukee Brewers’ pitching staff mowed down their team.
The Dodgers’ miserable Monday night only got more intriguing after the Brewers’ 4-0 victory in Game 3 of the NL Championship Series, when Enrique Hernandez wondered aloud why his team and its fans didn’t come to play.
“We had no energy,” the Los Angeles second baseman said. “The stadium had no energy. The fans had no energy. Overall, it was a pretty bad game for everybody who calls themselves Dodgers.”
The Dodgers fell behind after three batters and never caught up during their first home game of the NLCS. Los Angeles went 0 for 10 with runners in scoring position, struck out 14 times and managed just five hits.
This comprehensively frustrating evening required an outlet, and Grandal is wearing a target during his miserable post-season. Dodger Stadium, normally a cauldron of excitement in October, had little to cheer and plenty to lament.
After Grandal committed his third passed ball of the series in the eighth inning, a portion of the crowd chanted “We want Austin!” in a call for the catcher’s unsung backup, Austin Barnes. And when Grandal struck out with the bases loaded in the ninth inning, Chavez Ravine was filled with boos.
“I don’t really hear the noise outside,” Grandal said. “I value my opinion way over anyone else, so that’s what keeps me sane.”
The other Dodgers definitely heard the booing, and Hernandez was unhappy with every aspect of the atmosphere at Dodger Stadium for an enormous playoff game.
While the second baseman didn’t deny the Dodgers’ role in their poor performance, Hernandez also cited the home fans for not doing their part.
“Since the first inning when (Ryan) Braun hit that (RBI) double, the stadium kind of went quiet for the rest of the evening, and it (stinks) that they got loud just to show (up) Yasmani,” he said.
“He’s trying his best,” Hernandez added. “Catchers have a lot going on. The game revolves around them. They’ve got to call every pitch. They’re involved in every situation in the game. It’s the playoffs. It’s the big leagues. If (fans) think they can do it, go ahead. Put on your gear and catch 99 (mph) with breaking balls that have a lot of movement. He’s been one of the best catchers in the game for a while now. He’s having a little bit of a rough patch, which we all as humans, as baseball players, go through. It’s just bad timing.”
Immediately after Game 3, manager Dave Roberts said Barnes will start Game 4 on Tuesday.
“(Grandal) had a tough night, and obviously the fans voiced their opinion,” Roberts said. “And they’re passionate. They want to win. They want the best out of all of us, especially in the post-season. So I know it’s not personal. … They were just as frustrated as we all were.”
In his final post-season before free agency, Grandal dropped to 3 for 22 with 10 strikeouts – including three in Game 3, along with a popup that turned into a ground-rule double.
And Grandal’s most glaring failures aren’t even at the plate, but behind it: The veteran made two more defensive miscues after committing two errors and two passed balls in Game 1.
Grandal’s passed ball drew the fans’ greatest ire, even though it happened after the Dodgers already trailed by four runs. Grandal has tied the big-league record for the most passed balls in a playoff series.
The unlikely chant for Grandal’s backup also reflected the big-budget Dodgers’ desperate frustration with their own inability to seize the important moments near the halfway point of this series. Game 3 was full of those missed moments, and it pushed the defending NL champions halfway to elimination.
Along with his batting woes and his latest passed ball, Grandal also failed to control a wild pitch by Walker Buehler in the sixth inning, allowing Travis Shaw to score the Brewers’ second run from third base.
Shaw was only on third because centre fielder Cody Bellinger appeared to misjudge Shaw’s long fly, allowing it to carom off the wall for a triple that probably could have been the third out of the inning.
And Buehler was still in the game because Roberts attempted to get some extra innings from his young starter instead of employing his customary quick hook.
None of those mistakes and debatable decisions was individually decisive. Add them all together, along with the Dodgers’ inability to seize any moments of their own, and LA is down 2-1.
While the Brewers celebrated after escaping the ninth, Dodger Stadium made almost no noise.
“It’s just a shame that they were quiet all game and they only got loud to throw out the boo birds,” Hernandez said. “It’s a playoff game, and it didn’t feel like a playoff game. Not just because of the fans, but because of how we were playing the game. Just overall a bad game for all of us.”