The St. Louis Cardinals didn't want to leave anything to chance Wednesday night in Houston. The first five St. Louis hitters and seven of the first eight all got hits, and by the time the dust had settled at the end of the top of the first inning, the Cardinals had a 5-0 lead over the Astros, who were trying to avoid their 106th loss of the season.
That's really not fair to the Atlanta Braves, is it? The Braves had to play the Phillies, who have won over 100 games this season. Sure, the Phillies lost nine in a row after they clinched the NL East, but they still are the best team in the league and the Astros are the worst.
Houston showed quite a bit of that "worst" in the first inning, and the Cardinals went on to defeat them 8-0 behind Chris Carpenter, who allowed just two singles (one by J.B. Shuck, one by Jose Altuve), walked only one, and struck out 11 in throwing his second complete game shutout of the year, and saved the St. Louis bullpen for....
... well, maybe for a division series against the Phillies beginning on Friday. At the time the Cardinals completed their win over the Astros, their 90th of the season and 18th in September (against only eight September defeats), the Braves and Phillies were in extra innings in Atlanta.
If the Braves can win the game -- in which closer Craig Kimbrel blew a ninth-inning lead -- the Cardinals will host a tiebreaker game Thursday at 7 p.m. CDT in St. Louis. If not, the Cardinals head to Philly.
As always, we await developments.