Cardinals Rally Late to Overcome Braves in Series Opener
Miles Mikolas took the mound in Atlanta to open the Cardinals first post season game since 2015. This turned out to be a complete team win after a heated battle on a hot October night at SunTrust Park. This team has turned into something special, and game one of the NLDS did not disappoint.
The Starting lineup
Mikolas was the starter for the game against the NL East Champions and set to face Dallas Keuchel. Things were shaky early on as Mikolas labored through the first two innings. During the first, he gave up his only run as Wong tried to turn a double play on a grounder up the middle. Wong lost the ball on the transfer from his glove to SS Paul Dejong and no outs were recorded on the play that scored Albies. Mikolas was able to settle in after that pitching through five innings.
During the top of the fifth, Harrison Bader singled on a soft ground ball that Keuchel could not field fast enough. The speedy centerfielder beat a very good throw by Keuchel. The Cardinals manufactured an old-fashioned run after a bunt by Mikolas pushed Bader to second base, then Bader easily stole third. Harrison scored as Fowler grounded out to second. After a double by Edman, Keuchel was knocked out of the game in the fifth.
Wildness ensued in the sixth as Tyler Webb hit Donaldson with a pitch, gave up a double to Markakis, and an intentional walk to Adam Duvall to load up the bases. Gallegos took over with only one out and the Cardinal defense faltered. Initially ruled an error, and later a hit, Dansby Swanson hit a ball that bounced off of Edman’s chest, ping ponged to Dejong who then launched it to Wong at second. Wong couldn’t get a handle on it and the ball bounced towards the outfield as two runs scored. Atlanta closed the sixth with a 3-1 lead.
Chris Martin entered the game in the 8th inning but left with oblique tightness before throwing a single pitch. Luke Jackson took his place and surrendered an absolute bomb to Paul Goldschmidt giving the Cardinals hope late in the game. After recording two outs, Dejong singled, Wong singled, and Mark Melancon was called in to attempt a four out save. He lost the save when Matt Carpenter hit a lazy fly ball that dropped just fair on the left field line that scored Dejong. Wong was thrown out at home on the same play, but the Cardinals had a 3-3 tie in the top of the eighth. Carlos Martinez entered with two outs to maintain the tie in the bottom of the inning.
Statcast measures the exit velocity, launch angle and projected distance of Paul Goldschmidt’s homer against the Braves
The top of the 9th, the Clutch Cardinals showed up and battled. Arozarena grounded out, but then the Cardinal offense came to life against Melancon. Fowler and Edman hit back-to-back singles, Fowler ‘deeked’ Markakis to take third base on a wild slide. Barely holding onto the bag, Fowler was safe.
Tommy Edman rips a single into right field to get a runner into scoring position with one out in the top of the 9th inning
Goldschmidt walked to load the bases. Ozuna doubled just inside the left field line, Molina was intentionally walked, Dejong Struck out, then Wong it a ball that was also just inside the right field line that nearly mirrored Ozuna’s double. The Cardinals led the Braves 7-3.
This finally knocked the Braves veteran closer out of the game, Newcomb entered and struck out Martinez to send it to the bottom of the ninth.
The drama did not end there as Carlos Martinez came in to battle through the toughest part of the Brave’s lineup. Martinez lost a pitcher’s count to Billy Hamilton and surrendered a leadoff walk. Somewhere Tim McCarver probably said, “You just can’t do that.” Ronald Acuna hit a ball deep to Left Center field over the wall to bring the Braves within two.
Ozzie Albies hit a ball to Tommy Edman and there was a really spectacular play by Goldschmidt at 1st. After a review, it was confirmed that the ball did beat Albies, and Goldschmidt was able to keep his toe on the bag. This play proved to be even bigger when Freddie Freeman took Martinez deep to center field right after. Cardinals now only lead by one run. Martinez was able to generate a ground out of Donaldson, and struck Markakis out looking to end the game.
Moments that mattered
During the first inning, Mikolas gave up back to back walks to open the game. Once again, somewhere Tim McCarver is very unhappy. Between the two walks Yadier Molina gunned down Acuna who attempted to steal second base. Yadi was visibly fired up and seemingly in his best post season form. This helped to limit the damage during the first inning as Mikolas struggled to find the strike zone early on.
In the seventh inning, Ronald Acuna hit a long 331 foot single to Right field. This was a serious base running blunder by the young superstar, as he was caught watching a ball that was shy of a home run. This may or may not have led to more runs, however his lack of hustle was noticed.
Ronald Acuna launches a deep fly ball off the wall in right field as Dexter Fowler holds him to a single in the 7th inning
Game two begins tomorrow at 3:37 CST, and can be viewed on TBS. The young electric arm of Jack Flaherty will get the start against Mike Foltynewicz. Flaherty is 11-5 and carried a 2.75 ERA to the end of the season with a WHIP of only 0.97. Foltynewicz went 8-6 with a 4.56 ERA and a 1.25 WHIP. This will be the second game in a best of five series. Game three will take both teams back to Busch stadium on Sunday.