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Cardinals top Braves 6-3 in chaotic Wild-Card game

A blown call that you'll see for the next few decades cut a Braves comeback short, as the Cardinals held on to win 6-3.

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The Infield Fly Rule: A New Primer

* and love the Infield Fly Rule!


Harold Reynolds: "Umpires got it right." (VIDEO)

You don't have to believe me. You don't have to believe Harold Reynolds, either. But you have to admit that the guy has seen a whole lot of baseball, and been involved in a whole lot of Infield Fly calls.

If you're not convinced by Reynolds -- who gets a lot of help from MLB Network's video crew -- then it's possible that you simply can't be convinced.

But here's my textual take on Infield Flyocalypse, anyway.


Parsing the Infield Fly Rule (for real this time)

* but were afraid to look up.


Cardinals down Braves amidst chaos, controversy

When it all comes down to a one-game playoff, anything can happen. But no one expected this, as the Cardinals won 6-3 after a wild, disputed finish.


After controversial 8th, Cardinals still up 6-3

We just saw history, friends.

Those of us watching the inaugural National Wild Card game just saw the deepest infield-fly call in the history of Major League Baseball. We also saw the edges of the playing surface covered with a blanket of debris, thanks to thousands of outraged hometown fans.

It happened in the bottom of the eighth inning. With runners on first and second base and one out, Andrelton Simmons lifted a high ... well, you can call it a high pop, or you can call it a high fly. Either way, St. Louis shortstop Pete Kozma ran into short left field, while left fielder Matt Holliday trotted in. There was some confusion, as there sometimes is, and the ball fell to the ground between Kozma and Holliday.

Here. Confusion:


Game-changer! Bases circled! Cardinals' lead endangered!

Except left-field umpire Sam Holbrook had already ruled Simmons out, because of the infield-fly rule; in his judgment, Kozma could have made the catch "with normal effort". In that case, the runners may advance at their own risk, and these runners wound up on second and third. But the Braves would otherwise have had the bases loaded with one out, instead of second and third with two outs.

Fredi Gonzalez argued, to no avail. Fans threw rubbish on the field, which held up the game for a long stretch because you can't play when it's like this:


Once play finally resumed -- after a long, long delay of nearly 20 minutes -- the Cardinals retook their places on the stage, Brian McCann pinch-hit for the pitcher, and Mike Matheny summoned hirsute closer Jason Motte for a four-out save.

McCann walked, loading the bases, and was replaced by pinch-runner Tyler Pastornicky with leadoff man Michael Bourn up next. Motte fell behind 3-and-1, but battled back and blew Bourn away with two fastballs. After all that, the score was still 6-3 after eight innings.

Oh, and apparently the Braves did file an official protest. You might imagine how well that's likely to go for them.


Matt Holliday homers, puts Cards up 4-2

Matt Holliday was an MVP candidate at one point this season, as he was hitting .320/.404/.543 with 19 home runs at the trade deadline. Since the deadline: .252/.336/.417 with eight homers in 218 at-bats. So that should make Kris Medlen feel better.

Or not. Holliday took a 1-2 pitch deep, and it wasn't exactly an easy pitch to hit. Medlen threw a fastball right on the inside corner, but Holliday caught up with it and had enough bat speed to drive it to left, easily keeping it fair.

This is the first time Medlen has given up four runs since July 7, 2010 against the Phillies, though only two of the runs for this game are earned. He's looked sharp at time, but it's starting to look like the Cardinals have a bunch of good hitters. Who'd've thunk it?

The Braves are 0-5 in elimination games at Turner Field. They'll have to get to the Cardinals' bullpen if they want to push that to 1--5, as Kyle Lohse left the game with a runner on first and two outs in the sixth.


Braves' fourth-inning rally falls flat with bunt

Do the Atlanta Braves have some sort of scouting report that says Kyle Lohse and his teammates aren't good at fielding bunts?

In the bottom of the fourth inning with Freddie Freeman on second base and one out, Atlanta catcher David Ross -- who'd homered just two innings earlier -- bunted toward shortstop, obviously looking for a base hit. He got it, just beating David Freese's throw to first base, with Freeman moving to third.

That brought up rookie Andrelton Simmons, who also laid down a bunt. This one, though, went right to Lohse, who had plenty of time to throw out Simmons while Freeman stayed on third because it wasn't a squeeze. Lohse's throw, however, glanced off Simmons' helmet and down the right-field corner, while the runners circled the bases.

It was all for naught, though, because the umpires correctly ruled that Simmons had run inside the baseline:

He was out, with Freeman rooted on third and Ross landing on second base. And the rally ended when Lohse struck out Kris Medlen.

In the ESPN Radio booth, Chris Singleton wondered why Simmons was bunting with two runners aboard and the pitcher due up next. Why, indeed?

Heading into the fifth, the Cardinals still lead the Braves, 3-2.


Cards take 3-2 lead after Chipper error

The St. Louis Cardinals played about 500 hours of baseball this year, give or take. So it was more than a little frustrating to think the whole thing could be decided by an umpire's split-second decision to grant time to David Ross.

With two strikes and Ross at the plate, umpire Jeff Kellogg called time. Ross swung through the pitch:

After getting Ross to swing through one change-up, Lohse figured he'd try another, and that one went over the left-field fence. Oops. And you figured the Cardinals could have had a chance to get away with it if it weren't for that Medlen kid. The Braves' starter was looking lights out.

But a Carlos Beltran single was followed by a Chipper Jones error, putting runners on first and third with no outs. Allen Craig -- suddenly one of the more feared hitters in baseball -- drove a double to left to score a run.

With runners on second and third, the Cards tied the game on an RBI ground out from Yadier Molina, which was followed by a David Freese sac fly to give the Cardinals the lead.

If Medlen kept doing his thing, the Kellogg time-out call could have been the story of the game. Now? The story is Medlen giving up three times for just the second time out of 13 starts so far this season. And the only other time he gave up three runs? A seven-inning, three-run game with eight strikeouts and no walks. With the Chipper error, though, only one of the runs for this game is earned.

Kris Medlen is good, but the Cardinals offense, at least for today, has been a little better.


Braves lead Cardinals 2-0 on David Ross's home run

Brian McCann's been struggling so badly lately that Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez benched his star catcher, and wrote David Ross's name on the lineup card instead.

Rarely has a managerial move looked so good so early in a big game. Because when Ross came up in the bottom of the second inning, Kyle Lohse left a change-up in the middle of the strike zone, and Ross didn't miss. Worse, Dan Uggla had just drawn a seven-pitch walk, which doubled the damage of Ross's long blast that carried the left-field fence.

Rookie shortstop Andrelton Simmons followed Ross's homer with a line-drive single up the middle, but Lohse finally escaped when his opposite number tried to bunt his way aboard and was thrown out easily.

So the Braves entered the third inning with a 2-0 lead. Considering that the Braves have won 23 straight games started by Kris Medlen, things aren't looking good for the defending World Champions. But it's early yet.


5 things you don't know about the Atlanta Braves

Here's a quick primer on the Wild Card-winning Braves, who face the Cardinals in a single winner-take-all contest.


The expectations of Jason Heyward, Freddie Freeman

The Braves have a pair of 23-year-olds who were supposed to be much better by now, which makes it easy to ignore they're pretty good already.


5 things you don't know about the Cardinals

How great is Yadier Molina? (and some other things)


Kris Medlen's amazing, unrecorded season

Arguably the best pitcher the National League this season won't appear in the record books. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't appreciate what Kris Medlen has done.

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