Nothing in the Cardinals-Dodgers game was supposed to happen

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A game featuring the NL’s best and either second or third best starters this year resulted in a 10-9 victory for the Cardinals over the Dodgers on Friday.

Let’s look at everything that wasn’t supposed to happen.

– Clayton Kershaw gave up eight runs, despite finishing with 10 strikeouts and no walks, a unique line in postseason history. From 1903 to 2014, there were just nine starters to end a postseason game with at least 10 strikeouts and no walks. Four of them were Cliff Lee. None of them gave up more than three runs. Even in the regular season, a pitcher had had such a line just twice since 1914: the Angels’ Frank Tanana gave up eight runs with a 10/0 K/BB in six innings on June 14, 1976 and the Phillies’ Curt Schilling did the same over seven innings on June 22, 1998.

– Kershaw, the certain NL Cy Young winner and likely NL MVP, is now the only pitcher ever to give up at least seven earned runs in consecutive postseason starts, having allowed seven against the Cardinals in Game 6 of the NLCS last year. He  had given up eight runs just twice in 209 regular-season starts. He gave up nine against the Rockies on April 26, 2009 and eight against the Cardinals on July 24, 2012.

– Cardinals rookie outfielder Randal Grichuk homered off an 0-2 curveball from Kershaw in the first. According to legend, Kershaw had given up just two homers on curveballs ever.

– Adam Wainwright gave up six runs and 11 hits in 4 1/3 innings. It matched his shortest start of the 2014 season. He didn’t give up more than 10 hits in any of his 32 regular-season starts.

– Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis went 4-for-5 and homered off Adam Wainwright. He never once had more than two hits in a regular-season game this year. He also hit a total of three homers in 283 at-bats. He had hit .183 with one homer in 218 at-bats against righties.

– Matt Carpenter had a solo homer and a three-run double off Kershaw, giving him his first four-RBI game of the year. He had a total of three extra-base hits in 84 at-bats last month.

– Cardinals lefty specialist Randy Choate gave up a homer to Adrian Gonzalez in the eighth inning. It was the first postseason run he had allowed since he was pitching for the Yankees in Game 1 of the 2001 World Series.

– It was the first time a team allowed nine runs and won a postseason game since the Cardinals beat the Rangers 10-9 in Game 6 of the 2011 World Series. That’d seem to be a pretty good omen.

– Oh yeah, and there’s was also benches-clearing incident, one that resulted from a hit by pitch but wasn’t instigated by either the pitcher or batter involved. While Yasiel Puig reacted not a bit after being plunked by Adam Wainwright, on-deck hitter Adrian Gonzalez and catcher Yadier Molina got into it afterwards.

Biden praises Braves’ ‘unstoppable, joyful run’ to 2021 win

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said the Atlanta Braves will be “forever known as the upset kings of October” for their improbable 2021 World Series win, as he welcomed the team to the White House for a victory celebration.

Biden called the Braves’ drive an “unstoppable, joyful run.” The team got its White House visit in with just over a week left before the 2022 regular season wraps up and the Major League Baseball playoffs begin again. The Braves trail the New York Mets by 1.5 games in the National League East but have clinched a wildcard spot for the MLB playoffs that begin Oct. 7. Chief Executive Officer Terry McGuirk said he hoped they’d be back to the White House again soon.

In August 2021, the Braves were a mess, playing barely at .500. But then they started winning. And they kept it up, taking the World Series in six games over the Houston Astros.

Biden called their performance of “history’s greatest turnarounds.”

“This team has literally been part of American history for over 150 years,” said Biden. “But none of it came easy … people counting you out. Heck, I know something about being counted out.”

Players lined up on risers behind Biden, grinning and waving to the crowd, but the player most discussed was one who hasn’t been on the team in nearly 50 years and who died last year: Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.

Hammerin’ Hank was the home run king for 33 years, dethroning Babe Ruth with a shot to left field on April 8, 1974. He was one of the most famous players for Atlanta and in baseball history, a clear-eyed chronicler of the hardships thrown his way – from the poverty and segregation of his Alabama youth to the racist threats he faced during his pursuit of one of America’s most hallowed records. He died in January at 86.

“This is team is defined by the courage of Hank Aaron,” Biden said.

McGuirk said Aaron, who held front office positions with the team and was one of Major League Baseball’s few Black executives, was watching over them.

“He’d have been there every step of the way with us if he was here,” McGuirk added.

The president often honors major league and some college sports champions with a White House ceremony, typically a nonpartisan affair in which the commander in chief pays tribute to the champs’ prowess, poses for photos and comes away with a team jersey.

Those visits were highly charged in the previous administration. Many athletes took issue with President Donald Trump’s policies and rhetoric on policing, immigration and more. Trump, for his part, didn’t take kindly to criticism from athletes or their on-field expressions of political opinions.

Under Biden, the tradition appears to be back. He’s hosted the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks and Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the White House. On Monday he joked about first lady Jill Biden’s Philadelphia allegiances.

“Like every Philly fan, she’s convinced she knows more about everything in sports than anybody else,” he said. He added that he couldn’t be too nice to the Atlanta team because it had just beaten the Phillies the previous night in extra innings.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was later questioned about the team’s name, particularly as other professional sports teams have moved away from names – like the Cleveland Indians, now the Guardians, and the Washington Redskins, now the Commanders – following years of complaints from Native American groups over the images and symbols.

She said it was important for the country to have the conversation. “And Native American and Indigenous voices – they should be at the center of this conversation,” she said.

Biden supported MLB’s decision to pull the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to protest Georgia’s sweeping new voting law, which critics contend is too restrictive.