Ellis addresses teammates after tough loss
Dodgers catcher more focused on club keeping its head up than his big offensive game
LOS ANGELES -- A.J. Ellis' mind was in a million places at once. But it wasn't focused on his night at the plate -- even if it was one of his best. There was no room for that.
All the Dodgers' catcher could think about Friday was the sequence he called with Cardinals third baseman Matt Carpenter at the plate in the seventh inning. It was an eight-pitch at-bat that resulted in a bases-clearing double that turned a shaky seventh inning into a disastrous one. Maybe it would've been different if he had called a curveball earlier in the count and went away from the slider. Maybe the Dodgers would've still had a lead then. Maybe they wouldn't have lost, 10-9, to the Cardinals and been saddled with a 1-0 deficit in the National League Division Series.
Ellis thought about how he could possibly comfort his best friend in the game, Clayton Kershaw, after the lefty squandered a five-run lead and gave up eight runs -- six in that fateful eight-run seventh inning. Ellis came to terms with the fact that there was nothing he could tell Kershaw. Kershaw was taking the loss "infinitely more hard" than everyone else on the team, and a few words could never make that go away. Those words would have to wait.
Then Ellis turned his attention to his teammates. He thought about how they might take the loss. He didn't want them to sulk over it. So as soon as they came back to the clubhouse, the 33-year-old veteran took a moment to address them.
"I talked to these guys when they came back in here," Ellis said. "We had two tough series against the Giants. We lost the first game both times. The first time we got blown out. The second time we lost an extra-inning affair, and somehow we were able to rally and win the series.
"It's been our mantra all season long -- just win the series."
Winning the series -- that's what Ellis was thinking about.
What Ellis didn't think about was the four hits he had in five trips to the plate. Those four hits tied a career high, postseason or otherwise.
He didn't think about the home run he hit off Adam Wainwright in the fifth inning, which knocked one of baseball's best pitchers out of the game and gave one of baseball's other best pitchers a 6-1 lead.
He didn't even think about his single off Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal in the ninth inning, which kept the game alive, or the run he later scored to bring the Dodgers to within one.
Then Ellis was asked about all of that after the game, and he was forced to think about it.
He looked uncomfortable, pausing for a second before he could answer.
"It's a tough question," Ellis said. "Because I would trade every single hit for a win right now. I don't really think about me at all.
"I just think about the Dodgers."