If that’s a playoff preview, I’m not going to make it to November. Whew. Briefly: The Cardinals led 2-0 after one. The Braves scored three in the second to take the lead, then another in the third. But the Cards cut it to 4-3 in the fourth, only to see the Braves make it 6-3. Then the Cards scored two in the fifth to make it 6-5, then tied it in the sixth, then took a 7-6 lead in the seventh. Then the Braves came back in the bottom of the inning to make it 9-7. After that, pretty much nothing happened!
You get the idea. The teams combined for six homers. Pujols hit two for the Cards, but the Braves got four. Chipper hit a pair of solo shots, one in the second, one in the third. Andruw hit a solo shot of his own in the second. And Rafael Furcal, on his way to a huge day (4-5, three RBI) hit a two-run shot in the fourth.
But the big blow was a double. Trailing 7-6, Julio (hitting for LaRoche) hit a two-run, one out double off of our old pal Julian Tavarez to give the Braves the lead, then came home on Thomas’ single for insurance. From there, Reitsma and Smoltz (who came on with two out and one on in the eighth to strike out Edmonds) finished it.
Okay, so neither Ortiz nor Marquis did very well. (And Byrd’s work yesterday looks that much better.) Good work from the pen, though, except for Martin who allowed an inherited run. Particular props — especially since I’ve been so critical of him — go to Gryboski, who came in with two on, one out in the sixth and actually struck out Pujols and Rolen swinging in perhaps the most crucial situation of the game. I certainly didn’t see that coming. Alfonseca allowed an unearned run to give the Cards the lead (Furcal blew a double play grounder again) but got the win after Julio’s heroics.
It was a bad day all around for the players the Cards got in the offseason trade. While Marquis got hammered, it was the lefty half of the Rally Twins, Ray King, who got the loss, charged with the two runs Julio drove it. Drew, meanwhile, was fairly quiet but got a hit and a walk, and Marrero didn’t play. Presumably, Wainwright’s still hurt and his mechanics are still messed up.
Anyway, the Phillies lost again, allowing seven more runs to the Giants and the Braves’ lead is now eight games. The Marlins are 9 1/2 back and play tonight, the Mets 10 1/2… Tomorrow night, Thomson versus a callup. I can’t remember the guy’s name… You recall how when the Braves were going really bad during interleague play I’d complain that they’d win the first game of the series then lose the next two? Recently, they’ve had some series where they’ve lost the first then won the next two. Let’s hope that holds.