Friday, October 5, 2012
Beyond infield fly call: How Cardinals won
By Mark Simon
Getty Images/Scott Cunningham
Allen Craig and the Cardinals were able to break through against Kris Medlen to extend their season.
There will be much talk about the infield fly call in the eighth inning that played significantly into the St. Louis Cardinals' win over the Atlanta Braves in the NL wild-card game.
But what other factors played a role in this contest?
Let’s take a look.
The Braves' Defense
The Braves made three errors in this game, something they’d done only three times in the regular season (once from April to August).
That led to the Cardinals' scoring four unearned runs.
The four unearned runs are tied for the second-most allowed by a team in a winner-take-all postseason game, matching the 1925 Washington Senators, who allowed four in a Game 7 World Series loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The most in a game was seven, by the 1986 California Angels in their Game 7 ALCS loss to the Boston Red Sox.
The miscues came after a phenomenal catch by Jason Heyward in the second inning. Heyward was part of a Braves outfield that ranked best in baseball in Defensive Runs Saved. He finished seventh among all outfielders with 20 and led all outfielders in the range component of that stat (plus-minus).
The Braves' infield made three throwing errors, one apiece by Chipper Jones, Dan Uggla and Andrelton Simmons.
That was unusual given that the Braves were one of two teams this season (along with the Reds) to get a positive Defensive Runs Saved total from each of their infield positions.
Lohse finally a winner
Cardinals starter Kyle Lohse snapped his four-game postseason losing streak. The Elias Sports Bureau noted that Lohse was the first pitcher with a postseason record of 0-4 or worse to start his team’s first game in a postseason.
Lohse handled the Braves' left-handed bats well, limiting them to three singles in 14 at-bats. He netted five strikeouts against the Braves' lefties, tied for the second-most strikeouts he had against left-handed hitters in any start this season.
Left-handed hitters were 9-for-51 against Lohse in his past five regular-season starts.
Timely hits on the changeup
The Cardinals had a rough time with Kris Medlen’s changeup in the first three innings, making four outs against the pitch.
But the rally that put them ahead was keyed by a pair of hits against Medlen changeups -- the first a single by Carlos Beltran (who entered with the best numbers against right-handed changeups among the Cardinals regulars), and then an RBI double from Allen Craig.
Craig hit .403 with runners in scoring position in the regular season, best in the majors.
Medlen had allowed only one hit with his changeup (and netted 19 outs with it) in his previous four starts.
The Braves lost a Medlen start for the first time since 2010. They won 23 straight starts by him during the regular season.