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2012 NL Wild Card Game: Umpires Not to Blame for Atlanta Braves' Loss

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2012 NL Wild Card Game: Umpires Not to Blame for Atlanta Braves' Loss
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images
Umpires aren't to blame for the Braves' loss Friday night.

The 2012 NL Wild Card Game was a wild one, but pointing blame at the umpires is wrong. The St. Louis Cardinals did what they had to do to pull out the 6-3 win over the Atlanta Braves.

Some fans are pointing to the eighth inning "infield fly" called by left-field umpire Sam Holbrook or the runner's interference called on Andrelton Simmons in the fourth inning.

However, those who point the blame at the umpires are pointing their fingers in the wrong place.

 

Three Errors

The Braves committed three errors in the game. The first came from Chipper Jones, who threw the ball into right field on a possible double play.

Had Jones not thrown high, the Braves get two outs and the bases are clear. Allen Craig still may have doubled in the next at-bat, but Yadier Molina's ground out would've been the third out of the inning, leaving the score at 2-0 in favor of the Braves.

Then, in the seventh inning, the Braves committed two more errors. Dan Uggla threw wildly to allow David Freese to get to second.

After a sacrifice moved pinch-runner Adron Chambers to third base, Simmons fumbled a grounder and still tried to get a speedy Chambers at the plate. Had Simmons just gone to first, there would have been two outs. That would have limited the Cardinals from scoring another run in the inning.

Remember, the sign of a good baseball team is limiting the damage in an inning. Simmons' miscue extended the inning and allowed the Cardinals to score another run.

That's four runs scored because of errors. Had the errors by Jones and Simmons specifically not happened, there would be no talk about the "infield fly."

 

Runners in Scoring Position

The Braves were 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position. That's not exactly a recipe for success.

Jones had his opportunity to come up big in the seventh inning with runners on second and third with two outs. Instead of coming up with a big hit, he grounded out to end the inning.

In the eighth inning, after the infield-fly call, the Braves loaded the bases with a walk to Brian McCann. However, Michael Bourn struck out to end the inning.

The ninth inning saw the Braves have another opportunity with runners on second and third. But, a ground out by Uggla ended the game and the Braves' season.

 

Who's to blame for the Braves' loss?

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Top of the Lineup 4-for-20

The top of the lineup is important for any team to have success, playoffs or not. The top four players in the lineup—Bourn, Martin Prado, Jason Heyward and Jones—were 4-for-20 with one RBI.

The Cardinals, however, were 5-for-15 with four runs scored for their top four guys.

The Braves simply didn't get it done at the top. When that happens, it's a recipe for disaster.

 

Conclusions

While most will agree the eighth-inning call was a horrible one, it must also be remembered it is a judgment call.

The fourth-inning call, however, was right on point. Simmons was to the left of the foul line and clearly out of the base line.

One thing that most will agree with is that it was sickening to see what transpired in the fan's reactions. That kind of behavior has no place in baseball.

Regardless of your feelings on the call, throwing a temper-tantrum by throwing drinks, food, etc. on the field is the wrong attitude. Boo all you want, but fans took it too far Friday night.

In the end, this game should not be remembered for one call. It should be remembered for being the last time one of the greatest switch-hitters of all time, played in front of his home fans.

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