Bottom of the Ninth
The Cardinals could force a Game 7 against the squad from the Field of Dreams, but put them against your favorite local co-ed softball team and there may be trouble. They can beat anyone, but don’t always beat the ones that should come easy.
Being only one game out of the NL Wild Card race by Saturday morning looked pretty promising on Friday morning for the Cardinals. The Cards were sending Carp to the mound against a Cubs team doing their best to reach thirty games out by the end of the season while the Wild Card leading, but beat up Braves had to face Strasburg. The Braves won though, and the only Cardinals run was scored by Carp himself on a suicide squeeze in the second. The ‘pen slipped after Carp was taken out and we were back to three games out with only five to play.
Kyle Lohse, a very big reason why the loss of Waino at the beginning of the year hasn’t hurt quite as bad as it might have and the starter Tony will pitch in the event of a Wild Card tie-breaker, took his turn against the Cubs today and did a hell of a job. By the ninth, the Cards hadn’t scored a run since that one Carp knocked in yesterday. The ‘pen held this time though and the bottom of the frame came around with the Cubs leading 1-0.
Cubs closer Marmol took the mound with his 34 saves. Berkman lined out to center. One out. Christmas hit a drive to right center and was pinch run for by Greene. Man on first. Freese came up to bat and on a 2-1 count Greene stole second but the Cubbies’ catcher’s throw wasn’t caught so Greene went on to third. Freese struck out on the next pitch and Cardinal All-Star Yadi came to the plate with two outs and a man on third. On a full count Yadi walked. Men on the corners. What looked to be the entire Cubs organization huddled around the mound to visit with Marmol as Skip went to the plate. 1-0. 2-0. 2-1. 3-1. Skip was walked. Bags jammed with two down and a couple more Cubs visited with Marmol as Theriot took his practice swings. Theriot waited for a strike and, on the third ball, he got one according to the ump. Eventually the ump got it right and the first Cardinals run in fifteen innings was walked in. Furcal went to the plate and the second pitch was wild, knocking Furcal’s feet out from under him and the pinch-running Chambers scored from third for a 2-1 win.
With a Braves loss today that puts the Cards back to two games out, this time with four to play.
If the Cards make October today’s bottom of the ninth will get some play during rain delays in years to come, but they’re in the bottom of the ninth in other respects too. As I wrote above, they have only four games left to either tie or take the Wild Card race and extend the season. Failing that, Albert may take his final at bat in St. Louis as a Cardinal tomorrow. He didn’t take the offer the club made last winter and they say it won’t increase by much.
That’s for later though. The Cardinals are still alive in 2011 and when they leave after Sunday’s game they’ll be going to Houston to play the Astros, who are trying for forty games out by season’s end, while the Braves will face the Eastern-Champ Phillies.
Hopefully we won’t wish the Cards had ended the regular season against that Field of Dreams team.