St. Louis Cardinals vs. Atlanta Braves – Box Score – April 30, 2011 – ESPN.

Another day of early leads, Hibernation Mode, strangely hittable relievers, and awful umpiring. I hate sequels.

The Braves blew a chance to score in the first inning when after Prado doubled he was thrown out trying to advance to third on a groundout to short by Heyward. (Now Heyward doesn’t pull the ball towards first.) Heyward then got thrown out trying to steal, so after Chipper walked they still weren’t in position to score.

Brandon Beachy was superb, getting through the order the first time with no baserunners, and through seven innings had five strikeouts, no walks, and just two hits. He finally got a lead in the fifth when Prado hit a two-out double to score Gonzalez and McLouth; Beachy was instrumental, bunting them over and showing Joe Mather how it’s done. But that was all the scoring the Braves would get.

Then in the eighth, Beachy, who was only at 89 pitches, ran out of gas, allowing a leadoff double (the first Cardinal to reach second base in the game) and walking the next batter. It was worth it, especially after extra innings last night, to try to get another inning out of Beachy, but it backfired. Venters came in and after a bunt got a strikeout, but then allowed the two-out single to tie it.

The Braves, by all rights, should have retaken the lead in the bottom of the inning. After Prado should have walked leading off but was saw ball four called a strike (again) he hit a hard groundout to third. Heyward doubled off the right field wall on a ball that for all the world looked like it would go out. Chipper was intentionally walked, and LaRussa, for once, didn’t go to a LOOGY to face McCann, who hit a bomb that just didn’t have enough powder, flying out to center, and Uggla hit a rocket right at the third baseman. Every ball in the inning was hit harder than anything the Cardinals did all game.

Then Craig Kimbrel came out, and suddenly he’s hittable. (I have decided to blame Dave Wallace.) He gave up a leadoff single, struck out the next man, then threw a pitch that McCann couldn’t handle for a passed ball. Gerald Laird, a catcher, hit a soft liner into left that rolled to the wall for a triple when Prado misplayed it. George Sherrill, of all people, had to come in to put out the fire. After Freeman and Gonzalez were called out on strikes that were out of the strike zone, AAG blew up and was ejected, followed by Fredi, who finally stood up for one of his players. Bobby might have killed an umpire by now. McLouth walked with two out (see what politicking does, Fredi?) but Hinske flew out softly to end it.