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Morning Juice: Barmes makes great play and Pujols runs away

Big League Stew

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This and almost every weekday a.m. during baseball season, let's rise and shine together to recap the most recent diamond doings. Roll Call starts a mile high at Coors Field, where the bald man on the left made a spectacular diving catch, then turned a double play because the greatest player in the game (also bald) stopped paying attention.

Game of the Day: Rockies 4, Cardinals 3

Redbird hangover: A day after clinching the NL Central, the Cardinals appeared a little groggy in the ninth inning as they tried to rally down a run to the Rox. They put runners at the corners with one out against closer Huston Street(notes), and slugger Ryan Ludwick(notes) hit a blooper to short right field.

Out of thin air: Barmes, who came to the majors as a shortstop, showed some of the best second-base range in the league by sprinting, diving, catching the ball over his shoulder and rolling into throwing position.

Make my day, Clint: His hustle was rewarded further because the runner at first base, Albert Pujols(notes) — who had been intentionally walked — inexplicably kept sprinting for third and was doubled-off easily when Barmes threw to first. The play was so graceful and athletic, it's hard to believe Barmes' once fell down a flight of stairs and broke his collarbone trying to carry deer meat.

Here's the video.

Afterward, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa wouldn't blame Albert, whose aggressive baserunning often pays off. And Pujols offered no mea culpa, either.

"If that ball drops, I was either on third base or I was out at second," Pujols said, "because he would have caught it right there and made the throw to second base. It's one of those plays that you don't practice. You just read the ball, and if the defense makes a great play, so be it."

Just admit you made a mistake, Albert.

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Cardinal sinners: Pujols wasn't the key runner in the situation; it was Julio Lugo(notes), the potential tying run at third base (in the box). But Lugo, who smartly had stolen third, also goofed by not tagging up. If Pujols waits to see if the ball is caught and Lugo tags up at third, the Cardinals at least have a chance to score the tying run. Instead, the Rockies could have turned a triple play if they needed to — because Lugo was wandering near home plate as the game ended.

Barmes made a great play, but Pujols and Lugo ran the bases on the last play like nincompoops.

It all matters, because the Cardinals are pursuing the best regular-season record possible for playoff position and the Rockies are trying not to be distracted by the fire-breathing Braves in their rear-view mirror.

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Feelin' Rundown (nothing but great baserunning here):

White Sox 8, Tigers 4: ChiSox 1-0 without TV.

Royals 4, Twins 1: You can only dodge Zack Greinke(notes) for so long. And the Twinkies see him one more time — Saturday. Next up: Tigertown for four games. We almost have a race.

Mets 4, Marlins 0: The second victory in the history of Pat Misch(notes) all but eliminates the Fish, who gave it a good swim. Misch started his career with a record 13 straight losses, came in with a 5.59 ERA and got four whole outs in his previous start. But he shut out the Marlins. A strange and awesome game, baseball.

Pirates 6, Dodgers 5: The NL West leaders have A.D.D. against the worst teams in the majors, having gone 3-3 against the Pirates and Nationals lately. Three outs from clinching the division after scoring three times in the top of the ninth, all heck broke loose in the bottom half as the Dodgers made two errors and Bucs rallied four runs to whack Jonathan Broxton(notes) and delay the coronation.

This is how the game ended. Very poor, Mr. Ethier.

Braves 6, Nationals 3 (10 inn.): The ATL is goin' on a run, y'all — six in a row and 14 of 16. The Braves were Barmes-Pujols-Lugo from drawing within 1 1/2 games of Colorado's wild card spot. ... Home the rest of the way, the Braves have three games against the Fish and four more against the Nats. The Rockies have three against the Brewers and three at L.A.

Let's meet at Waffle House if the Braves make it.

Phillies 6, Brewers 5: More white knuckles for Phillies phollowers, but Ryan Madson(notes) strikes out Mike Cameron(notes) with the tying run at third base to escape. The magic number is three, so the big worry for the Phillies still isn't getting to the playoffs, but who gets the last outs once there.

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1-2-3 (skidoo!):

Yankees 4, Red Sox 2: Thuhhhhhhhhhhhhh Yankees win.

Astros 3, Reds 2: Wandy win-d!

Giants 5, Cubs 1: Cain train reigns.

D-backs 7, Padres 4: Chad plus Augie.

Indians 9, Orioles 0: Ten 'L' vision.

Blue Jays 5, Mariners 4: One-run M's.

Rays 7, Rangers 6: Please, please squeeze.

Angels 7, Athletics 4: Could clinch today.

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