Braves' season dies in a sea of controversy

907213.jpg

Braves' season dies in a sea of controversy

From Comcast SportsNetATLANTA (AP) -- Talk about a wild card.This one was just plain wild.Chipper Jones played his final game. The Atlanta fans turned Turner Field into a trash heap after a disputed infield fly. And the St. Louis Cardinals did what they always seem to do in October.Celebrated another postseason triumph.Matt Holliday homered and the Cardinals rallied from an early deficit, taking advantage of three Atlanta throwing errors -- the most crucial of them by the retiring Jones -- to beat the Braves 6-3 in a winner-take-all wild-card playoff Friday.In the eighth inning, there was more crazy throwing, this time by an irate crowd that littered the field to protest an umpiring decision that went against the Braves. The Cardinals fled for cover, the Braves protested and the game was halted for 19 minutes while workers cleared up all the beer cups, popcorn holders and other debris.St. Louis manager Mike Matheny was asked if he'd ever seen anything like it."Not in the United States," he said.Major League Baseball executive Joe Torre said the protest was denied. St. Louis advanced to face Washington in the best-of-five division round, beginning Sunday at Busch Stadium.The Braves are done for this season, the recipients of another heartbreaking loss in the playoffs.The 40-year-old Jones is all done, period. He managed an infield hit in his final at-bat but threw away a double play ball in the fourth, which led to a three-run inning that wiped out Atlanta's 2-0 lead behind Kris Medlen."Ultimately, I feel I'm the one to blame," Jones said.But this one-and-done game will be remembered for the eighth, when a disputed call on a fly ball that dropped in short left field cost the Braves a chance at extending Jones' career.The Braves thought they had the bases loaded with one out after the ball fell between two fielders. But left-field umpire Sam Holbrook called Andrelton Simmons out under the infield fly rule -- even though the ball landed at least 50 feet beyond the dirt. When the sellout crowd of 52,631 realized what had happened, and a second out go up on the scoreboard, they littered the field with whatever they could get their hands on."It was scary," St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina said.Holbrook defended the call, even after he looked at the replay."Once that fielder established himself, he got ordinary effort," he said, referring to shortstop Pete Kozma calling for the ball, then veering away at the last moment as left fielder Holliday drifted in. "That's when the call was made."Braves president John Schuerholz apologized for the actions of the crowd, saying a "small group of those fans acted in a manner that was uncharacteristic and unacceptable." The barrage left Holbrook fearing for his safety."When cans are flying past your head, yeah, a little bit," Holbrook said.The stoppage only delayed the inevitable. When play resumed, Brian McCann walked to load the bases but Michael Bourn struck out to end the threat. Dan Uggla grounded out with two aboard in the ninth to finish it, leading to one more wave of trash throwing as the umps scurried off the field -- probably feeling a lot like those replacement NFL refs who caught so much grief.The infield fly is a complicated rule, designed to prevent infielders from intentionally dropping a popup with more than one runner on base and perhaps get an extra out.No one could ever remember it being applied like this. And, after past postseasons dotted by contested calls, this play will certainly lead to another slew of October cries for more instant replay."I was under it," Kozma said. "I should have made the play. I took my eyes off it. I was camped under it."This is what some fans feared about a one-game playoff -- a disputed call determining a team's fate for an entire season, even with two extra umpires added for postseason games.Jones refused to pin this loss on the umps."That one play didn't cost us the game. Three errors cost us the game," he said. "We just dug ourselves too big a hole."Holliday homered in the sixth off Medlen, who had been baseball's most dominant starter over the final two months. The Braves had not lost a start by the diminutive right-hander since 2010 -- a streak of 23 games, the longest in modern baseball history.But this is the postseason.This is when the Cardinals shine.St. Louis stunningly made the playoffs a year ago at the Braves' expense, ralllying from 10 games back in the wild-card race to pass Atlanta on the final day of the season. The Cardinals on capture the championship, winning four straight elimination games while upsetting Philadelphia, Milwaukee and, finally, Texas, with the most improbable victory over all in the World Series.St. Louis was expected to fade after slugger Albert Pujols signed with the Angels and longtime manager Tony La Russa retired. And, indeed, the Cardinals wouldn't have made the playoffs without a change in the format, adding a second wild-card team in the each league. They finished six games behind the Braves during the regular season, only to hand them more misery in the postseason.The Braves haven't won a playoff round since 2001. Since then, they've gone 0 for 7 -- including six decisive losses at Turner Field.David Ross, starting in place of the slumping, ailing McCann, had the place rockin' in the second when he launched a two-run homer into the left-field seats off 16-game winner Kyle Lohse. It looked as though Ross had struck out to end the inning, but he yelled for time just before Lohse delivered the pitch. Umpire Jeff Kellogg hopped out from behind the plate waving his arms while Ross swung and missed.That call worked out for the Braves. Ross homered on the next pitch.But the Cardinals have been in this position before.Carlos Beltran led off the fourth with the first hit of the game off Medlen, a bloop single to right. Holliday followed with a hard shot to third base, and Jones made a nice backhanded scoop. The crowd cheered, expecting a double play. That turned to gasps when Jones' throw to second base sailed over the head of Uggla, winding up in right field. Instead of having no one on with two outs, Medlen and the Braves faced second and third and no outs.The Cardinals made Atlanta pay, as they always seem to do in October. Allen Craig, the replacement at first base for Pujols, lined a double off the left-field wall, cutting Atlanta's lead to 2-1. Molina followed with a groundout that brought home another run and moved to Craig over to third. He trotted home on a sacrifice fly by David Freese, the hero of last year's postseason.The Braves totally fell apart in the seventh, and Freese was right in the middle of things again. He led off with a routine grounder to Uggla, who bobbled it briefly, then unnecessarily rushed his throw to first. It wasn't close, the ball sailing off behind home plate while Freese took second. Daniel Descalso bunted pinch-runner Adron Chambers over to third, and Chad Durbin replaced Medlen.Durbin got what he wanted from Kozma -- a grounder to the drawn-in infield. But Simmons bobbled the ball and hurriedly threw it all the way to the backstop as Chambers slid across head first to make it 5-2. Kozma took second on the miscue, and he came all the way around to score on another ball that didn't get out of the infield. Matt Carpenter's bunt down the first-base line was fielded by the third pitcher of the inning, Jonny Venters, who missed a swipe tag and, with his back turned, failed to notice that Kozma kept right on running to make it 6-2."We played to win the game," Molina said. "They played to lose the game."Lohse got the win, allowing six hits and two runs in 5 2-3 innings. Medlen, who went 10-1 during the regular season, surrendered just three hits and two earned runs in 6 1-3 innings. But he gave up five runs in all, most of it none of his doing.Jason Motte earned a save by getting the final four outs, taking over after the delay.NOTES:The Braves outhit the Cardinals 12-6 but left 10 runners on base. St. Louis stranded only two. ... Lohse (16-3) and Medlen had a combined record of 26-4 during the regular season. The cumulative win percentage of .867 was the highest ever for opposing postseason starters, edging the .850 mark of California's John Candelaria (10-2) and Boston's Roger Clemens (24-4) in the 1986 AL championship series.

Quick Links

Wieters two-run HR propels Orioles past Blue Jays

Wieters two-run HR propels Orioles past Blue Jays

BALTIMORE — Matt Wieters slammed an eighth inning home run to right to break a 3-3 tie, and the Orioles had an exciting win over the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday night. 

Thanks to Wieters’ heroics, the Orioles had a 5-3 win over the Toronto Blue Jays before 16,083 at Oriole Park. 

RELATED: Orioles great headed to Maryland Hall of Fame

Jonathan Schoop walked against Jason Grilli (4-2) with two outs and then Wieters hit his 12th home run, and the Orioles had a 5-3 lead.

Brad Brach (8-2) worked 1 1/3 scoreless innings, and Zach Britton pitched the ninth for his 39th consecutive save. 

With the win, the Orioles (72-60) moved back to within three games of the Blue Jays (75-57) in the American League East.

Ubaldo Jimenez lasted one-third of an inning when he last started against the Toronto Blue Jays on June 12. J.A. Happ, a leading contender for the Cy Young Award, started against Jimenez, and it looked like a mismatch. 

Jimenez walked two of his first three batters, Russell Martin hit into a double play to end the first. 

Toronto scored a run in the second when Michael Saunders doubled and scored on Kevin Pillar’s two-out single. 

Jimenez then retired 12 of the next 13 hitters, and his only baserunner, Pillar, who singled with one out in the fifth was quickly erased when Devon Travis hit into a double play. 

Happ gave up a hit in each of the first four innings. In the fifth, Steve Pearce homered to left field with one out. It was Pearce’s 13th home run, and third since returning to the Orioles on Aug. 1. It was his fifth home run in 28 at-bats against Happ. 

Pedro Alvarez, who was batting second for the first time since July 2, 2010, walked, and Manny Machado hit a home run estimated at 438 feet into the Orioles bullpen for a 3-1 lead. 

Martin started the seventh with a single, and after Troy Tulowitzki flied to right, Saunders hit his 21st home run to tie the score at 3. It was Saunders’ fourth home run in 19 at-bats against Jimenez, who gave up three runs on five hits in 6 2/3 innings. 

Happ allowed three runs on six hits in 6 1/3 innings.

NOTES: Machado is the youngest Oriole to hit 100 home runs. Eddie Murray was the previous youngest to 100. … Aaron Sanchez (12-2, 2.99) faces Yovani Gallardo (4-6, 5.69) on Wednesday night. 
 

Quick Links

Former Terp Shaun Hill could be in line to start after Teddy Bridgewater injury

Former Terp Shaun Hill could be in line to start after Teddy Bridgewater injury

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater suffered a dislocated knee along with a completely torn ACL and "other structural damage," the team announced on Tuesday evening. 

With the injury almost undoubtedly ending Bridgewater's season, the football question begins to arise. Who will play quarterback in Minnesota? The answer could be former Maryland Terrapin.

Shaun Hill, a veteran journeyman, could be the next in line, barring a move by Minnesota to acquire another quarterback. 

MORE TERPS: 4-STAR DEMATHA OFFENSIVE LINEMAN PLEDGES TO MARYLAND

As currently constituted, Hill is on the roster along with former Wisconsin QB Joel Stave and former Old Dominion QB Taylor Heinicke.

Hill, 36, came in for the injured Bridgewater last season against St. Louis after the quarterback left the game with a concussion. Minnesota would win, 21-18, in overtime.

Hill has played for four teams during his NFL career -- the Vikings, 49ers, Rams, and Lions. He has thrown for more than 8,000 total yards and has a career passer rating of 85.2.

Before turning pro, he helped Maryland to the 2001 ACC title as a senior. The Terrapins would reach the 2002 Orange Bowl and end the season ranked No. 10 overall.

Quick Links

Redskins Preseason Schedule: Week 4 vs. Buccaneers, Date, Time, TV Channel, Live Stream

Redskins Preseason Schedule: Week 4 vs. Buccaneers, Date, Time, TV Channel, Live Stream

The Redskins' final 2016 NFL preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers has been moved a day earlier and will be held on Wednesday, August 31.

Impending incliment weather in the greater Tampa Bay area forced the NFL and the teams to schedule the game a day earlier.

Here is everything you need to know about the Redskins' Week 4 preseason game against the Buccaneers.

RELATED: THE BEST RIVALRIES IN THE D.M.V.

Who: Washington Redskins at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

What: Week 4 of the 2016 NFL Preseason

Where: Raymond James Stadium. Tampa, Fla.

When: 8:00 p.m. ET. Wednesday, August 31

TV Channel: CSN Mid-Atlantic (Channel Finder)

Live Stream: NFL.com Game Pass

Radio: Redskins Radio Network (Frequency Finder)

 

Washington Redskins 2016 Preseason Schedule: 

Week 1 (Thurs., 8/11): at Atlanta Falcons (25 - 19 L)

Week 2 (Fri., 8.19): vs. New York Jets (22 - 18 W)

Week 3 (Fri., 8/26): vs. Buffalo Bills  (21 - 16 W)

Week 4 (Thurs., 9/1): at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Redskins Kickoff pregame show begins at 6:00 p.m. ET only on CSN Mid-Atlantic‚Äč.