Don’t call it a comeback … but that’s precisely what Tuesday night’s win was — and is — for the Cardinals!
Of course, it wasn’t easy. Nothing ever is for this team. Rather than come out bats blazing, they spotted the Astros five runs in the first three innings.
Very kind of you, boys, but tonight let’s not play games like that!
If I can speak for Cardinal Nation, last night’s game was quite like this entire season — horribly exasperating, utterly confusing, and delightfully unpredictable. Once again, and unlikely cast of heroes led by our own Ryan Theriot kept hope alive with one game to play.
What? Did I just call Ryan Theriot a hero?
Now, as the founding members of the Ryan Theriot Fan Club, we here at Aaron Miles’ Fastball are obligated (and delighted!) to point out The Riot’s seventh inning go-ahead two-run pinch hit triple that solidified the unlikely comeback. And thanks to @PitchersHit8th, we have a new acronym. There was no TOOTBLAN to be seen last night, but instead, how ’bout a TLAP — tripled like a pimp!
But he wasn’t alone in his heroics.
There was Allen Craig. He came in after 2 1/2 innings for the injured Matt Holliday. Yes, Matt is hurt. Again. … or still. It’s the hand he was bothered by earlier in the week. But no matter — Craig had some revenge to exact on Minute Maid Park after it cost him much of the season when he broke his knee on the right field wall.
I’d call 2 for 3, with a clutch game-tying double in the seventh and a bomb of three-run homer in the eighth a quality night of revenge.
Then there’s Nick Punto. Starting in place of the also-injured Rafael Furcal, he, too, had a dynamic night going 4 for 5 with a pair of runs batted in, one coming on his own monster home run in ninth to put the Cards up by seven. Just for good measure.
And the “Tony, I can’t believe you’re doing this right now!” move of the night was brought to you by: Eduardo Sanchez. Sanchez — part of the post-Franklin closer-by-committee duo earlier this season — is back with the team after spending much of the summer battling a shoulder sprain that sent him to the disabled list on June 16.
He hadn’t pitched in a game since June 12.
Well, he’s back!
Sanchez pitched a brilliant inning and a third that not only stopped the bleeding, but energized all of Cardinal Nation, most importantly, the visiting dugout at MMP. That one scoreless inning gave the bullpen some confidence, too.
But so did the eight runs scored in the last three innings. Sanchez is credited with the win (and rightfully so!)
Not-so-unlikely was Lance Berkman going 3 for 4 against his old club. That’s actually become quite routine.
For those watching the numbers, Albert Pujols went 1 for 6, without adding an RBI to his total (98). His average is an even .300. And he’s due. With Chris Carpenter on the mound tonight, it’s quite possible that Albert gets his chance.
For a game that started to look ugly early, these comeback kids proved once again that they never stopped believing. Not once. Not even after Jake Westbrook came out of the game after 2 1/3 innings. Or after Rzepczynski loaded the bases. Or Holliday left. Never.
Just 26 short days ago, the Redbirds’ season was all but over. But 26 short days ago, everything changed. Yes, thanks to the Braves for collapsing. Yes, thanks to the Phillies for not playing dead this week. But nothing that happens tonight can take away this magical, improbable, historical run from all-washed-up to all-tied-up with one to play!
In a 162-game season, everything hinges on one.
One night. No do-overs. The playoffs so close you can smell it.
But all that matters is one.
I love September baseball!
Let’s go get one more, boys!
Carp takes the ball tonight for a 7:05 p.m. start. (The Phillies will start Joe Blanton followed by Cole Hamels from the ‘pen in an attempt to set a franchise record — 102 wins on the year).
Let the games begin …