Holliday’s error in the ninth costs Cardinals in Game 2

Nursing a 2-1 lead with two outs and nobody on in the bottom of the ninth, the Cardinals looked like they had Game 2 of the NLDS wrapped up, especially when Ryan Franklin got Dodgers first baseman James Loney to hit a routine line drive to left field.

Then Matt Holliday forgot which way to turn his glove.

Holliday muffed the line drive, which turned into a double and put the tying run in scoring position. Two walks and a Ronnie Belliard RBI single later and pinch-hitter Mark Loretta became a hero by driving in Casey Blake with a single up the middle.

The Dodgers took Game 2 of the series and the Cardinals’ hopes along with them.

From MLB.com:

What the loss did to the Cardinals’ psyche will be determined later. Manager Tony La Russa tried to put it into words.

“I think it’s about as tough a loss as you can have,” said La Russa, although he noted that at least his club hadn’t been eliminated. “Right now we’re feeling disappointed. But we’re not discouraged. There’s a big difference in the two.”

People are going to pin this loss squarely on Holliday, which is fair given that he should have caught the ball and had he, the game would have been over and the Cards would be going back to St. Louis tied 1-1 in the series.

But Holliday wasn’t the only one to make a mistake for the Cards in this game. The biggest (well, the second biggest after Holliday’s plunder) was probably La Russa not allowing Adam Wainwright to come out in the ninth. Wainwright had thrown more pitches in more outings this year than he did last night and came out for the ninth before. So unless Wainwright told La Russa that he was done, the skipper should have allowed his horse to continue throwing his gem.

Colby Rasmus also made a base running error during the game and was thrown out at third by Loney. Rasmus was hung up in no man’s land on the play and cost his team a runner in scoring position.

But give credit to the Dodgers – they’ve found a way to make Albert Pujols a non factor and the Cardinals haven’t found a way to make them pay. That said, St. Louis should have won this game and it’ll be interesting to see how La Russa’s club bounces back. (If they can, that is.)

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Dodgers acquire Garland, Thome for stretch run

On the same day that the Giants signed starter Brad Penny and the Rockies added starter Jose Contreras, the Dodgers one-upped their division rivals by acquiring starter Jon Garland from the Diamondbacks and slugger Jim Thome from the White Sox.

From MLB.com:

In return, the White Sox will receive Minor League infielder Justin Fuller. The D-backs will receive a player to be named, who, according to several Dodgers, will be Tony Abreu, but Abreu needs to first clear waivers. Abreu once was considered a top infield prospect, but his progress was stalled by three years of injuries.

The right-handed Garland, 29, moves into a rotation that has struggled to find a fifth starter all season and has been further weakened by the loss of Hiroki Kuroda, who was hit on the head by a line drive. Garland is expected to take the place of knuckleball specialist Charlie Haeger, with Vicente Padilla holding the spot for Kuroda, who could return to the rotation as soon as Sunday.

Thome, 12th on the all-time list with 564 career home runs, will give the Dodgers the left-handed threat that Matt Stairs provides the Phillies, who beat the Dodgers with a home run off the bench in the playoffs last year.

Coupled with their addition of Ronnie Belliard over the weekend, the Dodgers have set themselves up for a World Series run with these two moves. After the Rockies got within two games of the division lead in the NL West last week, L.A. clearly isn’t taking any chances as they head into the final month of the season. These moves fortify the back of the rotation, their bench, and their overall position depth.

Dodgers acquire Ronnie Belliard from Nationals


Teams are continuing to make transactions left and right as we head into the final 30 games of the MLB regular season. We’ve seen all the contending clubs trying to solidify their lineups, whether that means cutting busts or taking a chance. It’s been both successful (Matt Holiday and the Cardinals) and a let down (Alex Rios and the White Sox). Though not as huge a story as other recent pickups, earlier today the Dodgers acquired utility man Ronnie Belliard from the Nationals in exchange for prospect Luis Garcia and a player to be named.

“He gives us some offense,” manager Joe Torre said. “He can play around the infield, probably all positions but shortstop. It gives me the ability to spell these guys. He gives us a little more depth with experience coming off the bench.”

Belliard started at second base for St. Louis during its 2006 World Series championship, batting .240 with four RBIs during the playoffs. The Dodgers will have to make a roster move to open a spot for him on Monday.

“It’s a compliment,” Belliard said, after the Cardinals beat the Nationals 2-1 in St. Louis to complete a three-game sweep. “Now I have a chance to win another one. I helped the Cardinals in 2006 witih my defense and some lucky hits that I got in the playoffs. Hopefully I can do that in LA. That’s why they traded for me.”

Nice confidence there, Ronnie. I’m sure that’s exactly what Joe Torre wants to hear when he calls on you to pinch-hit during the NLCS. “Hopefully I’ll get a lucky hit.” Belliard has shown he can be a capable player, recently batting .290 with the Nationals in 2007. He’s been a starter for most of his career, which has included time with the Brewers, Rockies, Indians, Cardinals, and Nationals. However, the Dodgers will primarily use him to give Orlando Hudson and Casey Blake some rest.

With Belliard’s acquisition, the Dodgers will need to send somebody down to make room on the roster. Unfortunately for Juan Castro, all signs point to him, despite his solid play.

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