"That's it right there," Ramirez said. "That's the feeling."
Two months in advance, Ramirez has been offered a glimpse of what it's like to play October baseball. If what he did Friday night was any indication, the brighter lights and louder crowds don't bother him.
Ramirez's two-run home run in the sixth inning lifted the
The home run was the 11th of Ramirez's injury-shortened season and
"It felt like a playoff game, really," Manager
In the Reds, who won the series opener the previous night, the Dodgers faced a team with a record better than theirs. In Bailey, they faced the caliber of pitcher they could see in the playoffs. And playing in front of the second capacity crowd in as many nights, they played in the kind of atmosphere they could find themselves in should they win their division.
The Dodgers will play in front of their third sellout crowd in as many nights Saturday, as a full house is expected for a showdown between two of South Korea's most popular sporting figures, Dodgers pitcher
Mattingly acknowledged this win was more meaningful than any of the six games they won on their recent undefeated trip. Those wins came against the
The Reds are in third place, but only because they are in the
"This is a different thing," Mattingly said. "We know what division they're in."
This is new experience for Ramirez, who endured 61/2 years of losing with the
"Since I got here after that trade, everything changed," he said. "I think differently."
Here, he said, he and his teammates are more committed to each other. Here, he said, there's a greater emphasis on winning.
Adrian Gonzalez, for example, hasn't minded labeling himself a table-setter for Ramirez. A star in his own right, Gonzalez said, "My job is to create opportunities for him."
Gonzalez did that on this night, his single setting up Ramirez's blast that broke a scoreless stalemate.
Ramirez nearly scored in the fourth inning, when he singled to center, stole second base and advanced to third on a line out by Andre Ethier.
With one out,
But in addition to running by Miller, Ramirez also ran by the plate. Ramirez cut back home and tried to dance around Miller, but failed to score before Miller swiped him with his glove.
"I couldn't slide," Ramirez said. "He was in my way."
Ramirez noted that he injured his right shoulder sliding on a similar play while playing winter ball in the Dominican Republic.