Division series grades: Cardinals' rookie earns high marks

Monday -- wonderful Monday -- gave us a full slate of postseason baseball, so now let's get all judgmental and stuff by grading what we witnessed ... 

A+  Handing the ball to a rookie starting pitcher with your season on the line is not something most teams would be comfortable with, but most teams aren't the Cardinals. The latest gem to come out of their farm system is righty Michael Wacha, who took a no-hitter into the eighth inning against the Pirates in NLDS Game 4 before Pedro Alvarez broke it up with a solo homer. That was the only hit and run Wacha surrendered in his 7 1/3 innings while walking two and striking out nine. The rookie was electric in a literal must-win game -- the Cardinals will play a Game 5 thanks to him. - Axisa
A+ MLB Network audio for having the on-field microphones so well tuned. Look, we often see players screaming back and forth -- the Freddie Freeman and Brian McCann spat vs. Carlos Gomez comes to mind -- but only lip readers can usually come away with exactly what was said. And while we surely can pick out a few f-bombs, it was glorious to hear every word of what Grant Balfour and Victor Martinez were screaming at one another. - Snyder
C Clay Buchholz, the Red Sox's starter in Game 3, was uneven but kept finding ways to escape innings unscathed until serving up a gopherball to Evan Longoria in the fifth. And he really paid for that one dearly, as it was a three-run shot to tie the game and energize the Rays. His final line doesn't look awful, giving up three earned runs in six innings -- but seven hits and three walks is an awful lot of baserunners. - Snyder
D  Tigers offense. They had a three-run rally in the fourth inning to tie the game, but otherwise were anemic again. Austin Jackson has been brutal atop the order, the injured Miguel Cabrera is essentially an Ichiro who can't run now -- he's only had two extra-base hits since the last week of August and none in several weeks -- and no one is really standing out as a huge threat at this point. In 25 of the 27 innings of the series, the Tigers have posted a goose egg. That won't cut it. - Snyder
F Brian McCann. The Braves' catcher and leader didn't get the job done in Game 4. McCann went 0-for-4 with four strikeouts and a pair of runners left on base. In a related matter, McCann seemed quite flustered by plate ump Bill Miller's strike zone. - Perry
CBS Sports Writer

Dayn Perry has been a baseball writer for CBS Sports since early 2012. Prior to that, he wrote for FOXSports.com and ESPN.com. He's the author of three books, the most recent being Reggie Jackson: The... Full Bio

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