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.