Adam Wainwright wasn't trying to hit Yasiel Puig in the third inning, at least I don't think so. Puig was the first hitter in the inning in a 1-0 game. There's too much at stake to give away a baserunner in that situation when you're trying to beat Clayton Kershaw.
But, he did hit him, and the Dodgers are carrying some bad blood from last October, when Joe Kelly fractured Hanley Ramirez's rib in the first inning of Game 1 of the NLCS. Ramirez missed Game 2 and was ineffective the rest of the series, a key reason the Cardinals prevailed in six games. The Cardinals also have a reputation going back to the Tony La Russa days for sending certain messages to hitters.
That said, the Dodgers overreacted here, with Adrian Gonzalez playing the role of protector. Puig does seem to think everyone is out to get him. Hey, that's understandable as well, going back to last season when Ian Kennedy, then with with Diamondbacks, did go up and in to Puig with purpose and hit him in the face.
Kennedy's reasoning? "Puig plays the game with arrogance." Not joy. Not enthusiasm. Arrogance. That's the view of many -- players and fans, and the reason he's such a polarizing figure -- and my view is many are misreading the culture Puig comes from, in which players are actually allowed to have fun as they play the game. God forbid.
It also appeared Yadier Molina said something to Gonzalez, or vice versa, as Gonzalez stepped up to the plate, touching off the benches emptying. Anyway, a little spice to begin this series. A few of the printable tweets:
Can't imagine Adam Wainwright meant to put Yasiel Puig on base to start that inning. I think he was knocking him off the plate. Backfired.
— Phil Rogers (@philgrogers) October 3, 2014
.@YasielPuig gets HBP by Wainwright and Gonzalez and Molina exchange words and benches clear. #NoLoveLost pic.twitter.com/eS9vyTPEsG
— Alanna Rizzo (@alannarizzo) October 3, 2014
Puig > Everything. @dodgers #realfanlife http://t.co/lM7aXkTmNk
— Ben Lyons (@iamBenLyons) October 3, 2014
Adrian Gonzalez was one of most outspoken/articulate #Dodgers after July HBPs. Stepped up to Yadier Molina on Puig's behalf there #regmlb
— Bill Plunkett (@billplunkettocr) October 3, 2014
Adrian Gonzalez FIRED UP as the @Dodgers tie the game. #STLvsLAD #NLDSonFS1 pic.twitter.com/rFYeeeUY7G
— #NLDSonFS1 (@FOXSports1) October 3, 2014
Harold Reynolds: "There's a lot of Spanish being spoken on the field right now." -- I Lol'd. That was pretty funny.
— Craig Calcaterra (@craigcalcaterra) October 3, 2014
Anyway, if the Cardinals' plan was to get Puig off his game, it didn't work. The hit by pitch led to a two-run inning and then Puig delivered an RBI single and scored two more runs in the fourth.
Puig at this point in the game: 2-for-2 with a hit by pitch and two runs.
The last thing the Cardinals need is a fired-up Puig who has learned to direct his emotions for the good and not let them get the best of him (as appeared to happen in the NLCS last year, when he looked like a beaten dog every time he struck out).