Cardinals starter Michael Wacha went home with the NLCS MVP hardware, but perhaps it should have gone to Joe Kelly. Kelly started off the series by drilling shortstop Hanley Ramirez — one of the most productive players during the regular season, and a godsend to the Dodgers in the NLDS — in the ribs with a 95 MPH fastball. Tests later confirmed that Ramirez suffered a cracked rib, but he played through it for the rest of the series. He was ineffective, logging just two hits (both singles) in 19 trips to the plate.
Meanwhile, the Tigers watched a hobbled Miguel Cabrera play out the final two months of the regular season. At one point, he was in a position to take the lead in all three Triple Crown categories, but slowed by a groin injury, Chris Davis jumped far ahead in the home run race. Cabrera was able to muster just one home run in 86 plate appearances in the final month of the season. During the ALDS, he was exploited by Athletics pitching, which held him to no more than one hit per game. He hit just one home run and batted .250. In the ALCS, the Red Sox staff limited him to one or fewer hits in five of six games, and let him homer just once. Cabrera hit .273 in the series.
As both the ALCS and NLCS went six games, one has to wonder what kind of an impact a healthy Hanley Ramirez and Miguel Cabrera would have had on their teams’ respective fates. They will, unfortunately, watch the World Series from home as the Red Sox and Cardinals match up in the World Series, starting on Wednesday.
Update (11:09 PM EDT):
From unlucky to lucky, the Cardinals maintained their position in the National League Wild Card race with walk-off victory over the Reds on Thursday night.
The Cardinals went into the top of the ninth with a 3-2 lead over the Reds, but saw the game tied when Scott Schebler dribbled a two-strike, two out ground ball down the third base line. It seemed as if the baseball gods had turned their backs on the Cardinals.
In the bottom of the ninth against reliever Blake Wood, Matt Carpenter drew a one-out walk. Randal Grichuk then struck out, leaving all of the Cardinals’ hopes on Yadier Molina. Molina went ahead 2-0 in the count, then ripped a 95 MPH fastball to left field. The ball bounced high and over the left field fence for what seemed like an obvious ground-rule double. Carpenter motored around third base and scored the winning run.
The Cardinals poured onto the field in celebration and the umpires walked off the field. Manager Bryan Price wanted to have the play reviewed, but when he went onto the field, the umpires were nowhere to be found. Price chased after them but to no avail. As the Cardinals left the field and the stadium emptied, the Reds remained in the dugout. The Reds’ relievers were left in a bit of purgatory, standing aimlessly in left field after exiting the bullpen. Finally, the game was announced as complete over the P.A. system at Busch Stadium. The results are great if you’re a Cardinals fan, but terrible if you’re a Mets or Giants fan.
As Jon Morosi points out, the rules clearly state that the signage above the fence in left field is out of the field of play. The umpires got it wrong.
Price, however, also took too long to speak to the umpires. Per Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
If this happened between two teams playing a meaningless game, it would’ve been a lot easier to swallow, but Thursday’s Reds-Cardinals game had implications on not only the Cardinals’ future, but the Mets’ and Giants’ as well.
Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman went 0-for-4 during Thursday’s win against the Phillies, snapping his hitting streak at 30 games. It marked the longest hitting streak of the 2016 season. Freeman’s streak of 46 consecutive games reaching base safely ended as well.
The longest hitting streak in Atlanta Braves history belongs to Dan Uggla, who hit in 33 consecutive games in 2011. Tommy Holmes hit in 37 straight for the Boston Braves in 1945.
During his hitting streak, Freeman hit .384/.485/.670 with 11 doubles, seven home runs, 27 RBI, and 26 runs scored in 136 plate appearances. That padded what were already very strong numbers on the season. After Thursday’s game, Freeman is overall batting .306/.404/.572 with 33 home runs, 88 RBI< and 101 runs scored in 677 plate appearances.