Going into the game, you know that the Cubs are getting beat and the Brewers are getting pounded. First place is there for the taking, if you can just win. To not get it done is frustrating, but at least no ground is lost.
And you have to give the Cards credit. A lot of times in that situation, they’ve come out and just laid a total egg, getting routed. Last night, they took a lead on Brandon Webb, which is hard enough to do, before Wainwright just wasn’t able to hold it. If Miles doesn’t stumble trying to get the double play, maybe it’s different, but Chris Young was running and it was a high chopper, so I’m not sure they’d have been able to get it anyway.
The biggest question in the game, in my mind, was LaRussa sending up Branyan in the eighth with runners on the corners and one out. Branyan is a Three True Outcomes type of guy (walk, strikeout, home run–outcomes that have nothing to do with the fielders), which can be good in certain situations. If the Cards had been down by two or more, he’s a good fit there. You need the long ball possibility and one run might not be enough. In this situation, though, his propensity to strike out hurts you much more than his potential power. All you need is a sac fly to the outfield, though a hit would be nice as well.
Seems to me that you send up either Ludwick, if you want to retain the power possibility, or Brendan Ryan in that slot. Ryan would have to come into the game anyway to play third, plus he’s more likely to put the ball in play and should have enough speed to stay out of the double play. I think that’s where I’d have gone, but I’m sure TLR had his reasons. The man has managed a game before, as you know.
More on l’affaire Ankiel and today’s game after the jump.
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