Jay in lineup vs. Kershaw, with Matheny's confidence
ST. LOUIS -- Despite his fielding gaffe and struggles at the plate in Friday's Game 1 of the National League Championship Series, Jon Jay was right back in the lineup in a left-on-left matchup with the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw on Saturday.
Jay's 0-for-5 night in the Cardinals' 3-2 win in 13 innings was punctuated by a failed bunt attempt in the top of the seventh that erased lead runner Yadier Molina. In the 10th, he took a "bad angle" on a Mark Ellis hit to center and had to chase it to the wall as Ellis stretched it into a triple.
"He had a couple of opportunities with getting a bunt down. Jon can do that," manager Mike Matheny said. "We know that with Yadier on base, you're going to have to get a good bunt down, and Jon can do that. He does those things, the small things, the little things every day so well -- the things that go unnoticed. I know he takes a lot of pride in the littler things that don't go noticed. That is part of being the quarterback in the outfield.
"But these guys hold themselves to high expectations. ... We've talked about that as a group. How much our team celebrates the grinding at-bats and doing the little things right. A guy gets a bunt down, you'd have thought he hit a home run when he hits the dugout, because the guys know that that's a big deal. It kind of preserves that selfless attitude that we think contributes to winning baseball."
Jay, a left-handed hitter, got the starting nod Saturday over reserve outfielder Shane Robinson, whose right-handed bat could have been employed against the Dodgers' left-handed ace. Though Jay is hitting just .143 (3-for-21) this postseason, Matheny reaffirmed his confidence that his center fielder can bounce back.
"When that happened, Jon didn't get [the bunt] down in a big situation late in the game, he's frustrated," Matheny said. "Then right behind that, [he] doesn't get back on the ball to right. These guys are hard on themselves, harder on themselves than our staff is, for sure. But we do know that's what pushes them for the next level and turns very good players into great players."