In middle of it all, Puig feeling no pressure
Rookie racks up three more hits, three runs in Dodgers' Game 3 rout
LOS ANGELES -- For all of the mystery surrounding Yasiel Puig's journey to the United States and the questions about his aggressive and sometimes reckless style on the field, at least two things are certain.
First, Puig is always going to be in the middle of the action. Second, he's never going to apologize for the way he plays the game.
On Sunday, the rookie right fielder did not disappoint, going 3-for-5 with three runs scored and two RBIs in the Dodgers' 13-6 victory against the Braves in Game 3 of the National League Division Series. The Dodgers are one victory away from clinching a spot in the NL Championship Series and everyone should expect Puig to be back in the spotlight Monday in Game 4 at Dodger Stadium at 6:30 p.m. PT on TBS.
After all, he always is.
"[Monday] we are going to come out and do the best we can against the best pitcher they send out there," Puig said. "We have Ricky Nolasco and we are hopeful we can have the same results as we had [Sunday]. We want to win here and not go back to Atlanta and then prepare for the next round."
After Sunday's victory, Puig was asked if he felt any extra pressure to perform in the postseason games. The rookie smiled.
"I don't feel any pressure out there," Puig said. "My teammates come out there, we are all working together and there is no pressure."
When he was asked to expand on the pressure issue, Puig didn't waver on his stance.
"We just continue to prepare for whatever pitchers are thrown at us," he said. "I know that they are good pitchers, but we are prepared for whatever they do when they are on the mound. We are ready."
Puig's actions back up his words. If the young outfielder is nervous, he sure doesn't show it.
What's more, the rookie's teammates also believe everyone should stop questioning the young man's moxie and baseball IQ. Yes, Puig makes mistakes. Remember, they say, this is his first year not just in the big leagues, but also in the United States.
"He really understands the game," Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez said. "He gets it. He's just too good. People just want to talk about the negative when you are this good."
Puig is certainly good. He's also predictably unpredictable.
The right fielder led off the second inning with a single and advanced to second on another single by Juan Uribe. He moved to third base on a walk to catcher A.J. Ellis and eventually scored his club's first run on Hyun-Jin Ryu's sacrifice fly to cut Atlanta's lead to 2-1.
In the third inning, Puig hit a ground ball to Atlanta third baseman Chris Johnson, who threw to second base to force Gonzalez at second. In typical Puig fashion, he motored to second base on an errant throw from second baseman Elliot Johnson when the Braves failed to turn the double play.
Puig eventually scored on Skip Schumaker's single to give the Dodgers a 6-4 lead.
"I saw the ball get away and I immediately knew I had a chance for second base," Puig said. "Like in life, you have to take advantage of the opportunities you are given. They made an error, and we made them pay for it."
In the fourth inning, Puig drove home Hanley Ramirez with a single and later came home on Uribe's two-run home run to give the Dodgers a 10-4 advantage. His RBI single in the ninth extended the Dodgers' lead to seven runs.
"Puig knows what he is doing," Gonzalez said. "He's a good baseball player."