LOS ANGELES -- Though his team is still alive in the National League Championship Series, utility man Skip Schumaker has seen enough of Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina.
"In my opinion, not only is Yadi the MVP of that team, but the league," said Schumaker, a former teammate of Molina's in St. Louis. "What he means to them defensively, commanding the game, shutting down the running game almost completely.
"If you watch him really closely during the game, he's moving in outfielders, telling infielders to take a step right or left. He's one of the smarter baseball people I've been around, and maybe the smartest."
Schumaker -- echoing compliments that several of the Dodgers made about Molina through this series -- also cited Molina's role as an on-field coach for the Cardinals' young pitching staff.
"He makes the team that much better and makes those young pitchers so good, because they know they can trust him and not have to shake him off at any point," he said. "That is a really good thing to have confidence-wise when you're a young pitcher."
Manager Don Mattingly endorsed Molina from the perspective of a skipper whose club has been kept off-balance by St. Louis' pitching plan.
"Again, I look at Yadi," said Mattingly, a former batting champ and coach. "He does a really good job of knowing when to get ahead in the count and when to use his breaking ball if he feels like you're going to be aggressive. So it's always cat-and-mouse, back and forth."
Mattingly places no blame for rally-killing double play
LOS ANGELES -- Manager Don Mattingly did not fault Andre Ethier or Yasiel Puig for the rally-killing double play in the ninth inning of the Dodgers' 4-2 loss in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series on Tuesday.
The Dodgers had a chance to come back from two runs down against Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal after Ethier led off with a single, but those hopes were dashed when Puig bounced into the Dodgers' third double play of the game.
It was not a routine double play, either. Cardinals second baseman Matt Carpenter fielded the ball and tagged Ethier -- playing despite a microfracture in his lower left leg -- before firing to first in time to get the speedy Puig.
Mattingly does not think Ethier's injury posed a problem in that situation.
"I think if he stops too early, the guy just throws the ball to first," Mattingly said on Wednesday before Game 5. "If I stop too early and you don't come after me, then I'm dead at second anyway. So there is a fine line where you're trying to be close enough where the guy's going to tag you -- 'Can I break it up that way?' When he comes after you, you have to hopefully try to be able to back-pedal enough to buy Yasiel a step."
Mattingly did not have Dee Gordon pinch-run for Ethier because of the two-run deficit.
"Well, we're two runs down, so that run doesn't mean anything," he said. "So we're station-to-station at that point. If we get to [Juan] Uribe or [A.J.] Ellis and we're two runs down, then we'd use Dee. We wouldn't use Dee until we get to that winning run or tying run. So that would be a wasted runner right there."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. Austin Laymance is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.