A Few Random Thoughts About Last Night And The Series To Come
It has taken me a little while to decompress from the catastrophic shitstorm of last night’s wild card play-in debacle. I really love baseball, and I despise watching moments that taint, detract, or overshadow the game itself.I went in with a bad attitude about the game last night, mostly for the fact that baseball, unlike many other team sports, doesn’t work well in a one-game shootout. There are simply too many uncontrollable variables. Bad hops, botched plays, missed calls, an inconsistent strike zone … so many tiny aspects can blow up into game-changing moments within an instant.
Unfortunately, my worst fears about the wild card matchup became an awful reality. Last night’s game is already infamous, and baseball fans will be arguing over the missed plays and terrible calls of this trainwreck for decades to come.
But here are a few lingering thoughts left broken in the rubble:
* The Braves didn’t deserve to win that game. Kris Medlen pitched extremely well, but his efforts were undone by truly sloppy defense, a dumb baserunning move, and an inefficient offense. Three errors? Twelve runners stranded? That’s all on the Braves, my friends. Yes, the infield fly rule call that short-circuited a Braves rally in the eighth still bugs me, but the Braves had already sealed their fate by then.
* Does Matt Holliday not understand how to take charge in the outfield? Does he not know how to catch fly balls? I’m not being a smartass when I ask this, either. Think about that catchable ball dropping in front of him in the eighth inning last night – how many times have we seen that happen in left field since 2009? I can think of two failed catches (now three) by Holliday just in postseason play, let alone the rest of the season! I’d like to see him take charge of that position, and execute properly with more consistency. Is that really too much to ask?
* Kyle Lohse looked like a big game pitcher last night. Even after receiving an egregious time-out call to erase a strikeout, Lohse remained calm and focused. I especially loved his determined, cocky stride off the field after striking out Medlen in the fourth; he looked like an Indian Terminator. I’m sure his agent, Scott “Rape Baseball” Boras is squealing louder than Ned Beatty right about now.
* The Atlanta fans should be ashamed of themselves for the trashing of Turner Field. Frankly, ANY fans should be ashamed of themselves for that kind of behavior. Cards fans have been claiming that “you’d never see that happen at Busch Stadium,” but that’s not true. Cards fans can, in the heat of a moment of anger, become just as destructive as any other fan base. As citizens of one of the most violent cities in America, I suppose that Cards fans would skip throwing trash on the field and just open fire. In any event, I found the entire incident nasty and disrespectful.
* We actually won. And that’s pretty incredible. Sure, it was often like trying to win a chess match while whirling around inside a cyclone, but the 2012 Cardinals did it. Awesome.
So now the Cardinals start a five-game series against the Washington Nationals starting Sunday at 2pm central time. Can they take three games from the Nats? Of course!
Here are some random thoughts about the upcoming series:
* The schedule really favors the Cardinals. While it’s true that the Nationals have home field advantage, the composition of the series (two in St. Louis, followed by three in Washington) gives an edge to the Cardinals. If Adam Wainwright and Jaime Garcia can pull out wins in the first two games, then their chance of winning just one of three in Washington increase exponentially.
* The real x-factor is Garcia. The other pitchers taking turns in this series – Wainwright, Chris Carpenter, and Lohse – all give you mostly what you expect every time out. Garcia, though, has been inconsistent this season when not injured. He has pitched well recently, though, and the home start should help ease his nerves somewhat.
* Can the Cardinals win both games at Busch? They must plow through Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmerman (the scheduled starters for games 1 and 2) to do it. Aside from Jon Jay (.667) and Yadier Molina (.333), the rest of the team doesn’t hit Gonzalez particularly well. However, Zimmerman has been pounded by the Cardinals’ lineup to the tune of a .356 BA and slugging .521 (that’s including pitchers!) I like our chances.
* Will the Nationals scare in the postseason? They are an extremely young club, and one that isn’t accustomed to winning; just three members of their poster have ever tasted postseason baseball. Meanwhile, the opposing Cardinals not only went through the fires of hell to win the World Series last year, but they also had to fight through one of the most arduous seasons in recent memory this year. The Cardinals will not scare; they are the equivalent of a defiant old lion who still commands and demands respect despite the battle scars proudly displayed on his body. I highly doubt that the Nationals will show that kind of fortitude within the pressure cooker of a playoff series.
* Prediction: Cardinals in four.