Cardinals gain a game on punchless Braves

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The Braves were shutout by the Nationals in losing Sunday for the 10th time in their last 15 games, allowing the Cardinals to make up ground and climb to within one game in the wild card chase.

Atlanta lost this one 3-0 after dropping Saturday’s game 4-1.  Ross Detwiler tossed six scoreless innings and combined with three relievers on a four-hitter for his sixth big-league victory.  The Nationals got their three runs on homers from Wilson Ramos and Mike Morse.  The Braves, meanwhile, received nothing from their top four hitters, as Michael Bourn, Martin Prado, Chipper Jones and Dan Uggla combined to go 0-for-16.

The Cards beat the Cubs for the second straight day, again by one run.  The Cubs went ahead 2-1 on a Starlin Castro single in the seventh, but the Cards responded with solo homers from Yadier Molina in the seventh and Rafael Furcal in the eighth to win.  Edwin Jackson, Marc Rzepczynski, Octavio Dotel and Jason Motte combined to limit the Cubs to five hits.  Randy Wells was the hard-luck loser for Chicago, going the distance in a complete-game loss.

The Cards, now 88-71, will finish the season with a series in Houston.  MLB’s worst team, the Astros are 55-103 for the season, though they are 7-7 in their last 14 games.  The Braves, at 89-70, will finish at home against the struggling Phillies.  Philadelphia did win today to snap an eight-game losing streak, but the club has nothing to play for from here.

There is, indeed, an MLB-to-Portland group

Associated Press
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On Monday, Baseball America reported that MLB is prepared to expand to Portland and Montreal. We talked about that at length yesterday. One of the most common responses to that piece has been “Portland? Really?”

There’s good reason for that response. Baseball-to-Portland has been talked about for years, but there has never been any real traction. Past initiatives have failed, significant public funding for a stadium seems to be a political impossibility and, heck, Portland wasn’t even interested in keeping its Triple-A team, turning its stadium into a much more successful soccer venue and not missing the Beavers all that much.

It would seem, however, that the reports are not mere speculation and there is a genuine baseball-to-Portland initiative afoot once again. From the Oregonian:

On Tuesday, former Trail Blazers broadcaster Mike Barrett confirmed to The Oregonian/OregonLive that he is part of the Portland group.

“I am officially involved with a campaign to bring Major League Baseball and a stadium development to Portland,” Barrett said. “There is also a formally organized, sophisticated and seasoned management group running this initiative. We will keep you fully apprised of any/all developments as this project progresses.”

One guy — a broadcaster no less — saying he’s part of a group is not exactly a major needle-mover, of course. But it does contrast with past Portland initiatives that have been well-publicized grassroots affairs. While those may have been more broad-based and while their public nature may have provided some refreshing transparency, the simple fact of professional sports ownership in the 21st century is that well-monied groups who play things close to the vest are more likely to make waves. We’re in an age when technocratic hedge fund-type guys make things happen in this arena, not in an age when flamboyant public personalities do.

None of which is to say that baseball in Portland is a lock or that expansion anywhere is a short term proposition. It’s just to note that, yeah, there is a bit more going on, it seems, than just pointing at a map and saying “yeah, a team would make sense here.”