Yasiel Puig has been ticking some people off all season. It appears that he’s now under the skin of the Cardinals.
Puig, who is as polarizing as he is talented, became very animated while delivering an RBI triple in the Dodgers’ 3-0 win over the Cardinals in Game 3 of the NLCS on Monday. He raised his arms upon smacking the ball to right field, and then once again celebrated with pizzazz after reaching third base, which drew the ire of Cardinals right fielder Carlos Beltran.
“As a player, I just think he doesn’t know [how to act],” Beltran said after the game. “That’s what I think. He really doesn’t know. He must think that he’s still playing somewhere else.
“He has a lot of passion, no doubt about that — great ability, great talent. I think with time he’ll learn that you’ve got to act with a little bit more calm.”
Puig has put together a tremendous first season in Los Angeles. The 22-year-old Cuban defector hit .319 with 19 home runs, 42 RBIs and 11 stolen bases in 104 games during the regular season, and was largely responsible for the Dodgers’ dramatic midseason turnaround. But as impressive as he’s been, Puig’s flashy antics have been viewed by many, including Beltran, as over the top.
“I mean, it’s not great,” Beltran said of Puig’s double celebration in Game 3. “To me, I don’t like it. But what can I say? I don’t play for them. I just play over here. I just need to do my job. It is what it is.”
The Cardinals still have a 2-1 series lead in the NLCS despite dropping Game 3. The Dodgers have seized some momentum, though, and Los Angeles will host Game 4 on Tuesday. The Cardinals will be looking to rebound, and perhaps Puig’s showboating will give St. Louis a little extra motivation between the lines.
“When you try to do those things sometimes, you know, you get that attention,” Beltran said. “And you don’t want to wake up nobody. I always thought if you hit a home run off a pitcher, you’ve got to make him believe he made a mistake. You don’t wake him up. Or next time, the pitcher’s going to be more focused with you and he’s going to try harder to get you out.
“So he will learn. I don’t think he’s a bad kid. I just think he doesn’t know right now.”
Lance Lynn will start for the Cardinals in Tuesday’s Game 4. He could take a huge step toward teaching Puig a lesson with a big performance.