Big League Stew - MLB

If he catches the ball, the game is over.

For that reason alone, Matt Holliday(notes) is serving as the lone target of abuse after Thursday's collapse at Chavez Ravine.  From the creation of countless animated GIFs of the incident to fans of other teams stupidly ruling him out as a free agent possibility, Holliday remains the hottest Internet flashpoint outside of some guy winning a peace prize.

But because I had Little League coaches who packaged lines like "we win and lose as a team" along with postgame Star Crunch, here are five other Redbirds that are deserving of blame as the team stands one loss away from a haunting offseason. 

1. Ryan Franklin(notes): Playing Alex Gonzalez to Holliday's Steve Bartman, the St. Louis closer still had an opportunity to make the left fielder's groin gaffe an amusing footnote in a harrowing victory. Instead, Franklin responded to his two-out situation by walking Casey Blake(notes), giving up a tying single to Ronnie Belliard(notes), walking Russell Martin(notes) and then giving up the gamewinner to Mark Loretta(notes). Franklin had a chance to airlift a teammate from trouble, but spectacularly crashed the helicopter before coming close to arriving.

2. Tony La Russa: Speaking of airlifts, where the heck was The Genius while Franklin was frittering the game away? Opponents hit .405 in September off Mr. Chin Beard and La Russa should have been leading him on the shortest leash possible. Any other pitcher would have been a better option at that point, but La Russa held the phone and did nothing, not even after the Dodgers tied it up.   

3. Colby Rasmus(notes): The young center fielder has had a good series at the plate, going 3-for-6 which included a double that scored Mark DeRosa(notes) and gave the Cardinals the lead in the seventh inning on Thursday. Rasmus, however, got aggressive on the basepaths and was gunned down at third. Yes, the play was only made possible by a great cutoff from Kershaw James Loney(notes), but Rasmus simply can't be thrown out at third with no outs in the inning, not in such a tight and pitching-driven game. 

4. Chris Carpenter(notes) Seemingly every prognosticator picked St. Louis in this series because they felt the Dodgers couldn't beat the Cardinals' top two aces. But while Adam Wainwright(notes) did his part in Game 2, Carpenter was less than stellar in Game 1, going only five runs and putting his team in a position where it had to beat the Dodgers' strong bullpen.  

5. Albert Pujols(notes): It's true that Joe Torre has taken the bat out of the Phat One's hands three times this series, but Pujols hasn't done much in his free-swinging opportunities, going just 1-for-6 with no extra base hits. It's hard to blame the league's best slugger when he is shackled by such a small sample size, but the postseason is defined by single at-bats and losing a battle to Jonathan Broxton(notes) in Thursday's eighth inning didn't help the Cards add any insurance runs. 

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