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Big League Stew

The Juice: David Freese’s big night continues Cards’ charge

David Brown
Big League Stew

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Nine items to get you going this a.m. Ladies and gentleman of the Stew, take a sip of morning Juice.

1.  Who's that birdie on your shoulder? Why, it's David Freese and the rest of those hard-charging St. Louis Cardinals. The third-baseman drove in five of his team's six runs in a 6-5 win over the New York Mets on Wednesday — a victory that brought the Cards within 1.5 games of the NL wild-card spot.

It was Freese's three-run homer in the seventh inning that gave the Cards the lead — and Freese a defining highlight in a St. Louis uniform.

"That was a good feeling," Freese said. "Obviously, the biggest hit of my career and getting that win is huge."

The Cards will try to pick up that stray half-game on Atlanta when they conclude their series against the Mets on Thursday afternoon. As we wait, I have to ask everyone this question: Am I the only one who shouts "Everybody FREESE" in their worst Arnold Schwarzenegger-in-Batman Forever voice whenever Dave does anything good.  OK, I thought so.

2. Here comes that rainy day feeling again: The Atlanta Braves might not want to let any player out of their sight again. Two nights after Omar Infante hit a game-winning walk-off, former Braves pitcher Javier Vazquez continued his super September with a sterling effort: Two hits and no runs over seven innings in a 4-0 win that dealt the Braves their 13th loss in their last 20 games. Vazquez has been hinting at retirement, but it says here this late run (5-0, 0.25 ERA in his last five starts) will snooker some team into overpaying for his 2012 services.

3. Halo hanger-ons: Think all those Toronto Blue Jays fans were longing for the days of Vernon Wells after his 2 for 5 with a homer and four-RBI night? Yeah, me neither, but I'm guessing they're envious of the Los Angeles Angels' position. Their 7-2 victory pulled them even with the Rays in the wild-card race and 2.5 games behind bumbling Boston.

4. Yes, it lost again: To the Baltimore Orioles, 6-4. The bell can't ring soon enough.

5. Possibilities lost: But, hey, at least the Red Sox have an opportunity to crawl their way out of this because the Tampa Bay Rays have done absolutely nothing to take advantage the past few days. Two late losses to the New York Yankees in the Bronx on Wednesday did major damage to their playoff hopes. Perhaps Joe Maddon should have waited until he was in a playoff spot to talk about how nervous the Red Sox looked.

6. Change of plans: It wasn't that long ago that we thought this weekend's series between the Arizona Diamondbacks and San Francisco Giants might determine a lot. But now it only looks like the only thing up in the air will be when the D'Backs pop the bubbly. Arizona's 8-5 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates means the party could start at Chase Field as soon as Friday night.  {YSP:MORE}

7. When all that's left is personal milestones: Heading into Wednesday's action, Bronson Arroyo needed 18 innings over his last two starts to reach his seventh straight year of 200 innings or more. A 2-0 complete game win over the Houston Astros kept that dream alive, but I wouldn't get too excited if I were the Cincinnati Reds pitcher. His manager really isn't the kind of guy to let his pitchers put unnecessary mileage on their arms.

8. Panic time in Philadelphia?: Of course not. A five-game losing streak is among the possibilities when you combine a young and hungry team scrapping for 2012 playing time (the Washington Nationals) with an eye-on-the-prize squad that's already clinched (the Philadelphia Phillies). But it does make for an interesting factoid: The Fightins, though, haven't dropped five straight since late May 2010.

9. No loitering! After dragging their fans through the ringer all season, at least the Chicago Cubs had the common courtesy not to end Wrigley Field's year with a champagne party for the Milwaukee Brewers. A 7-1 home finale win keyed by Matt Garza's six-hit complete-game effort allowed the Cubs to take two of three from the Crew and not allow Milwaukee's magic number for the NL Central to go any lower than three.

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