Cardinals vs. Brewers: Cards Score Early; Or, Mark Kotsay Was A Great Idea

Mark Kotsay is starting in center field for the Brewers in Game 3 of the NLCS. The left-handed Kotsay is starting over the left-handed Nyjer Morgan against the right-handed Chris Carpenter because Morgan has been in a small slump and Kotsay is 4-for-11 against Carpenter in his career.

Of course, seven of those at bats came in 1999 and 2000, and Kotsay is a 35-year-old who isn't very good anymore. So while the expected difference between Kotsay and Morgan in one game isn't very big, you could argue that Ron Roenicke deserved this first inning.

Kotsay actually did a good thing, first. With one out in the top of the first, Kotsay drew a walk off of Carpenter, and then advanced to second when Ryan Braun got hit by a pitch. However, that was all undone when Prince Fielder subsequently flew out, and Kotsay drifted too far from the bag to get back in time. He was dead meat, as Jon Jay threw him out.

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That would not be all for Kotsay. In the bottom of the first, Yovani Gallardo allowed a leadoff single to Rafael Furcal, and then uncorked a wild pitch that moved Furcal to second. Up next was Jay, who lifted a fly ball to left-center field, where it dropped just in front of a charging Kotsay. Morgan probably would have made the catch, but Kotsay didn't, so Jay wound up with an RBI double.

That's about where Kotsay ceased to be a factor as the Cardinals continued to score. After Jay's double, Albert Pujols went down and drilled a first-pitch low curveball to left-center for an RBI automatic double. Then Matt Holliday walked. Then Lance Berkman walked. So, to catch you up, that's bases loaded, nobody out, and the score already 2-0.

Gallardo then got just about the best possible outcome from Yadier Molina, as he grounded a run-scoring double play ball to second. Yet the Cardinals weren't finished. After the double play, David Freese went the other way with just another double that narrowly avoided Corey Hart's outstretched glove, and the Cards went up 4-0.

That's where the bleeding stopped, but 4-0 is a huge advantage with Chris Carpenter on the mound, and Gallardo's up to 33 pitches. Chris Narveson was throwing in the bullpen.

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