Nats to face Cardinals in NLDS (updated)

The Nationals are going to St. Louis. We think.

In the first game of the new wild card era, the Cardinals beat the Braves 6-3, and will move on to the National League Division Series.

They'll host the Nats for Games 1 and 2, which will be held Sunday at 3:07 p.m. and Monday at 4:37 p.m., respectively.

The topic that everyone will be discussing tomorrow, however, was the incredibly bizarre play in the bottom of the eighth inning when Aldrelton Simmons' fly ball to shallow left was ruled an out because of the infield fly rule. The ball dropped in between shortstop Pete Kozma and left fielder Matt Holliday, and the Braves could have had the bases loaded with none out.

Instead, because of the infield fly ruling - which came very late - the Braves had runners at second and third and two outs.

Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez protested the ruling, which could complicate things a bit as we wait for word from the MLB league office.

The rulebook states the following on the infield fly rule: Rule 2.00 (Infield Fly) Comment: On the infield fly rule the umpire is to rule whether the ball could ordinarily have been handled by an infielder not by some arbitrary limitation such as the grass, or the base lines. The umpire must rule also that a ball is an infield fly, even if handled by an outfielder, if, in the umpire's judgment, the ball could have been as easily handled by an infielder. The infield fly is in no sense to be considered an appeal play. The umpire's judgment must govern, and the decision should be made immediately.

The league cannot overturn a protested call unless there has been a rule violation. Judgment calls stand, regardless of whether the correct call was made or not.

Regardless, the Nationals will fly out to St. Louis tomorrow, take part in a workout tomorrow mid- to late-afternoon, then rest up for Sunday afternoon's opener.

The Nats went 4-3 against the Cardinals this season, outscoring them 43-40.

Two of the three games in the recent series between the two teams went to the Cardinals, but the Nationals took three of four against St. Louis from Aug. 30-Sept. 2.

The Cardinals had Kyle Lohse pitch tonight, and their rotation for the Division Series is uncertain. The Nats will go with Gio Gonzalez in Game 1 and Jordan Zimmermann in Game 2. My guess is that the right-handed Edwin Jackson will pitch Game 3 and the left-handed Ross Detwiler for Game 4, given that the Cardinals have gone 31-17 against lefty starters this season and just 57-57 against righty starters.

By the way, this was the first time in Braves starter Kris Medlen's last 24 starts that Atlanta has lost. What a tough time to have that winning streak end.

Update: MLB has already denied the Braves' protest, according to Fredi Gonzalez. Let's go to St. Louis.

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