Watch out, Nationals. Here come the Cardinals!

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The Cardinals won in Atlanta on Friday and will host the Nationals in the NLDS beginning Sunday despite the fact that…

– they got outhit but the Braves 12-6

– they had just two extra-base hits to the Braves’ four

– their hitters failed to draw even a single walk, while their pitchers gave up three

That’s a recipe for a quiet plane ride home. Yet the Cardinals are returning to St. Louis triumphant thanks to some dreadful defense by the Braves — just their fourth three-error game of the year — and their ability to capitalize on mistakes.

Which is what we should have come to expect from these Cardinals. They’re at their best when they’re not very good.

The Cardinals have won two World Series since 2000. The teams that won the championships had the club’s seventh- and 11th-best records of the 12 years. Those Albert Pujols-led clubs won as many as 105 games, yet it was the teams that won 83 games in 2006 in 90 games in 2011 that claimed titles.

There’s no reason this Cardinals team can’t go far, too. While they used their most successful starter in Kyle Lohse today, they still have Adam Wainwright ready to go Sunday. Then they can throw Jaime Garcia at home, where he’s almost always successful, and Chris Carpenter and Lohse on the road.

Offensively, the Cardinals are more than a match for the Nats, scoring 765 runs to Washington’s 731 this year. If they’re still perhaps the lesser team overall, well, that just means they have the Nationals right where they want them.

MLB fines and suspends Yasiel Puig two games for Tuesday’s incident with Giants

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Major League Baseball has announced that Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig has been fined and suspended two games for his role in Tuesday night’s benches-clearing incident with the Giants.

Puig was upset with himself after fouling off a hittable pitch, tossing his bat up and grabbing it angrily. Catcher Nick Hundley didn’t like Puig’s expression of emotion and had a few words for him. Puig didn’t like what Hundley said and the two got into a shoving match before the benches emptied. Puig was able to get past his teammates attempting to restrain him to smack Hundley across the catcher’s mask. MLB’s press release characterizes Puig’s role as having “incited a bench-clearing incident.”

The Dodgers are off Thursday, Puig would be slated to miss Friday and Saturday’s games. However, Puig is appealing his punishment, which means he can continue to play until the matter is settled.

Hundley was fined but did not receive a suspension. If MLB’s press release were accurate, it would have characterized Hundley, not Puig, of inciting Tuesday’s benches-clearing incident. Puig was upset at no one but himself until Hundley inserted himself into the picture. Of course, this is by no means excusing Puig’s behavior as he should have been fined and suspended. But Hundley should have been suspended as well.