Thanks to Adam Wainwright, there’s a little bit of bad blood in this one, as the Cardinals pitcher didn’t like seeing the way the Atlanta Braves players were celebrating making it into the playoffs after their late season collapse a year earlier, which allowed the St. Louis Cardinals their World Series run to begin.
This season, if it wasn’t for the new playoff format, the Cardinals’ season would have already been over, finishing six games behind the Braves in the wild card standings.
No disrespect to what they did, but I think we’re going to save the big pop for after we beat Atlanta was what Wainwright said that pissed off a lot of people, or maybe just fired up, in the Braves’ clubhouse. Ironically, he won’t even be on the 25-man roster for the game.
It’s not like football where we post it and I want to rip his head off. But it is one of those things, you wonder why guys comment about other teams. I feel like, as a player, I wouldn’t make a comment about another team in a negative light to a media outlet. I just feel like I’m better than that. (David Ross, Braves catcher)
But most of the buzz entering the game surrounds Kris Medlen, turning into the unlikely star of the Braves since becoming a starter again in late July. At 5’10 and a fastball that doesn’t hit the 90’s, no one sees Medlen as an Ace pitcher. But the Braves have won 23 consecutive starts by Medlen, a modern big league record.
He’s 10-1 this season with a 1.57 ERA and 0.91 WHIP, winning nine of his 12 starts this season, never giving up more than 3 runs in any of them, allowing one run or less in 10 of them. For a team that isn’t one of the hitting juggernauts in baseball (21st in batting average, 22nd in slugging), quality pitching has been the key to their wins, and not just from their starters. The Braves simply don’t allow runs (3.42 ERA) and are in the top 5 as well with opponents batting average and WHIP.
The Cardinals are the better hitting team, with the best On Base Percentage in the majors (.338), and they hope their ace, Kyle Lohse, can keep up the form he’s been in all year – He’s 16-3 with the highest winning percentage in the National League, 5th with a 2.86 ERA and 4th with a 1.09 WHIP. He’s lost only one decision over the last three months, but pitched badly against the Braves back in May, allowing 5 runs and nine hits in a 10-7 loss in Atlanta.
Prediction – The Cardinals have a less than 100% Rafael Furcal playing, while Matt Holiday got a few days to rest and nurse his aching body. If Lohse pitches like he has all season except for that Braves game, the Cardinals should have enough firepower to edge this one out. Kris Medlen has to lose at some point.