Today, the St. Louis Cardinals played the Atlanta Braves in a game that began at 11:10 a.m. St. Louis time. Normally, I’m all for daytime baseball if it’s on a weekend or a day when I have no prior commitments, but…today is Wednesday. I can’t really watch baseball at my job, especially when the game starts before I’ve taken my first “Sit in the Men’s Room and Play Tetris for an Hour” break.
As it turns out, working may have been a better way to spend time today than watching the Cardinals lose to the Braves by a score of 7-3.
With newly-anointed ace Jack Flaherty on the mound for the Cardinals, and high-walk pitcher Touki Toussaint throwing for the Braves, the conditions seemed right for a sweep. But Flaherty struggled, and the Cardinals offense couldn’t capitalize on enough scoring opportunities to get the brooms out.
Atlanta got on the board first in the fourth inning thanks to a two-run homer from Freddie Freeman. The Cardinals answered in the fifth with a Harrison Bader home run to make it a 2-1 ballgame, but another big inning from the Braves in the bottom half ultimately defined the afternoon.
With two outs and a runner on second, Flaherty walked Ronald Acuna Jr. and threw a wild pitch in the next at bat that allowed Tyler Flowers to score and make it 3-1 Atlanta. Flaherty walked the next batter and gave up another RBI to Freeman before getting pulled, and relief pitcher Chasen Shreve wasn’t able to get out of the jam. The Braves actually pulled off a weird double steal of sorts to make the score 5-1 Atlanta heading into the sixth.
The Cardinals got three baserunners in the top of the sixth, but only got one run out of it, making it 5-2 Braves. Atlanta immediately got that run back in the seventh on an RBI double from Nick Markakis to make the score 6-2.
The eighth inning followed a similar pattern for the Cardinals. Jose Martinez and Paul DeJong both reached base to begin the inning, but the Redbirds were only able to score one run again, this time on a sacrifice fly. 6-3 Braves. The Cardinals left nine runners on base today and actually outhit the Braves 8 to 7, but simply couldn’t drive in the runs that they needed to.
Brett Cecil came in for the eighth inning to keep the Cardinals within striking distance, and instead gave up his traditional home run to Flowers to make it a 7-3 game in favor of the Braves. Never pay for relief pitching, kids.
Things did get interesting for the Cardinals in the top of the ninth. Patrick Wisdom singled and Matt Carpenter and Kolten Wong both walked, suddenly bringing the tying run to the plate with one out in the form of…Jose Martinez. You’ll never guess what happened next.
Anyway, Martinez struck out and Paul DeJong fouled out to end the game. Braves win 7-3, and the Cardinals are unable to complete the sweep.
The loss drops the Cardinals to 84-69 on the year, but I think most Cardinals fans have to be happy with taking two out of three from the NL East-leading Braves on the road, especially with less than two weeks to play.
I should also point out that the Cardinals would currently be in or close to first place in both the NL East and the NL West right now, which is another reason why baseball should get rid of divisions and redo playoff seeding…but that’s another story for another day.
The Cardinals are off tomorrow and begin a three-game series against the San Francisco Giants at Busch Stadium on Friday.