Welcome back to the playoffs, VEB!!!
Bunting IS important! Now, more than ever!
Braves fans were haunted by ghosts of 2012!
Cards fans were ready for October ballPark Recreation!
NLDS Game 1 threw Miles “The Lizard King” Mikolas up against lefty Dallas “Actually from Tulsa” Keuchel. Coming into tonight you could fret about MIles’ disappointing 4.27 FIP follow-up to his 6th-place Cy Young finish in 2018. You could worry that Keuchel’s the type of sinister sinker/cutter/slider/change-up guy who at times baffle Cards’ hitters. You could hand-wring about the now-you-see-it/now-you-don’t offense that collectively put up less-than-middlin’ .325 OBP and .426 SLG marks in September.
The microcosim created by playoff baseball make the games less about stats. And everyone’s got at least some ailment produced by the marathon season. The playoffs are about trustin’ ability and lettin’ it fly. They’re about thrivin’ in the moment, not bein’ consumed by it, despite the aches and pains. They’re about the best doin’ what they do best when the lights are brightest.
Tell ‘em, Matthew:
THE BIRD’S-EYE VIEW
Sweet Jeebus, if all the games are gonna be like this, my clencher muscles will be toast by Game 3! But if they all have the same result, I’ll sacrifice those clenchers!!!
Through 7 innings, this was a prime example of pre-dinger-happy baseball, with nary a tater appearing. Boy howdy, did that change in the 8th and 9th innings as there were three hit in those two innings alone, one by Goldy in the 8th that brought the Cards within one, and two in the 9th by the Braves that nearly brought them back from a 4-run deficit. But the Cards barely escaped with just enough pitching from Carlos in a 4-out
And, as neither starting pitchers relied on the mighty K, they together produced just 2 of those (both by Mikolas) through their time into the 5th. Then, as has been the norm for a number of years, the bullpens were called on to cover the rest. Each team utilized 6 relievers to cover the final four innings (4.1 in the Braves’ case). Technically, the Braves used 7, but Chris Martin, who was brought into the 8th, exited with oblique issues during his warmup tosses. The unfortunate Luke Jackson was the emergency fill-in who gave up Goldy’s homer.
Miles’ fought through an extremely rough first and shaky (lucky) second, ultimately settling to make it through 5 full, giving up just one run, which the Braves produced via back-to-back walks from their first two hitters, a bloop hit, and the rare Kolten error. Between the third and the 5th, Miles set down 9 in a row.
The game stayed that way until the 5th when the Cards opened up the Whiteyball Playbook to use speed and fundamentals to scratch across a single tally with an infield hit, sac bunt, steal of third, and ground-out.
The Cards definitely had their scoring chances, and not just 2-out situations. They had two man-on-third, one out chances go by with nothing produced. Then trouble came in the 6th. The Braves pulled out some ‘80s-era baseball themselves, as they scored twice off a hit batter, bad-luck double, intentional walk to load the bases, and a play that initially included two Cards’ errors but was re-scored as just one. The sudden fielding blunders to me, is what gave the game a sudden doom feel, despite it being just 3-1 at that point.
Then the GOB got bored in the last two frames and declared more powerful and frequent basing of balls to commence. After Goldy’s shot made it 3-2 in the eighth, the Cards tacked on another that inning via a 2-out rally of three-straight singles. That inning could’ve been bigger, but Wong made the last out trying to score all the way from first and getting thrown out by a mile.
The Cards seemed to put the game away in the 9th, as they sent 9 batters to the plate, parlaying 4 hits (including 2 doubles) and 2 walks (one intentional) into 4 runs to make it 7-3, a seemingly comfortable lead with Carlos Martinez to close things out.
Problem was, the Braves, after sending up Billy Hamilton to pinch-hit lead off (and walking, ugh), the Braves’ fantastic top of the order was up. They were geared up for El Gallo’s fastball, and he was not commanding his breaking pitches at first. A 2-run homer and a one-out solo shot later, and suddenly the Braves were down only one! Carlos re-grouped to use mostly his breaking stuff to get the final 2 outs to escape by the skin of their teeth, 7-6!
THE FLIGHT PATH
Top of 1st
Despite the 94-degree heat, the Cards didn’t make Keuchel sweat at all in the first, as he threw just 11 pitches. The Cards’ first three hitters went down in order grounding out.
Atlanta native Dexter Fowler lead off swingin’ righty. Wonder if he also hit his favorite restaurants around town. Dex worked a full count but then grounded a low-and-away 89 mph “fastball” directly to the second baseman for out 1.
Tommy Edman came out ready to swing, offering at pitch 1, chopping it to short for an easy quick second out. Paul Goldschmidt then became out three in a 1-2-3 inning by grounding out to short.
Bottom of 1st
Miles didn’t start off with any control, going to a full count to the first three batters he faced, walking the first two. Thankfully Yadi threw out a would-be base-stealer, or the inning might’ve been much worse. An error on an easy chance by Wong also occurred. Miles threw an ugly 27 pitches.
The extremely all-around talent Ronald Acuna Jr. led off, coming back off recent hip and groin issues. Like Dex did, he got the count full, ultimately walking on the 8th pitch, a curve that Miles gripped too long, as it looped way outside.
Switch-hitter Ozzie Albies, named after the Wizard Ozzie Smith (no idea if true), and the NL leader in hits (189), stepped into the two hole. After hitting a long foul into right, the announcers noted that the protective netting has been extended all the way down the foul line just for this series, and it could affect a ball.
Then on a 3-2 count, Acuna attempted to steal, but Yadier Molina picked a curve out of the dirt and threw a bullet at the bag to nail him unquestionably, despite Ronald trying the swim-move slide. Yadi gave an emphatic fist pump on that one! Thou shalt not!!!
You know how this ends... pic.twitter.com/UaaMQIKj4y— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) October 3, 2019
Unfortunately, Miles lost Albies with his second walk, to bring up Freddie Freeman, who was trying to play through a bone spur in his elbow. Getting to another full-count and the runner going, Freeman inside-outed a soft single to left, with Albies cruising to third. Mike Maddux was seen on the horn to the bullpen; it was Hudson(!) warming up.
Now with first and third, one out, and Josh Donaldson up, Miles induced him to bounce one to Wong, who charged it, and tried to back-hand flip it to DeJong, but he flubbed the toss, and it never made it to the base for an error. Allies scored (he would’ve scored despite the error), and everyone was safe.
That made it first and second, one out. Nick Markakis thankfully flied out to medium left, as Ozuna battled the scorching sun.
Looking to escape with no further damage, Miles got away with a hanging changeup, as Matt Joyce couldn’t resist but mis-timed it, flying out easily again to Marcell.
Top of 2nd
Three of the four Cards’ hitters this inning got good wood on Dallas (2 were over 100 mph EV), but only one produced a single. But it was progress.
Marcel led off, sporting the neon-green sleeve once again, thumbing his nose at any problem the MLB might still have with it.
Ozuna continued allowing Dallas to have an easy going, swinging at the first pitch, tapping it right back to the pitcher for an easy out. Yadi then watched the first pitch go by, as you knew he would. He got the first good contact against Keuchel, smacking a deep fly to right, but it was run down by Markakis.
DeJong broke through, however, singling to left through the hole between short and third, taking advantage of a change-up left high. Kolton Wong stepped in to build a 2-out rally. He ripped one to direct center that Acuna sprinted straight in on and caught, sliding for extra style points.
Bottom of 2nd
Trying to forget the first inning even happened, Mikolas returned to the mound to face the Braves’ bottom of the order. He still threw poor pitches and was lucky no additional runs were scored. “Laboring” was the apt description.
Things did not start off better, as catcher Brian McCann spanked a double the opposite way into left-center. It was a slider left up and out over the plate.
Miles bounced back to jam Dansby Swanson, who flew out to very shallow left, but it hung up long enough for Dex to catch easily for out 1.
Flashing some defense (and taking advantage of poor bunting/running), Keuchel bunted right back to Miles, and he easily threw out McCann who was attempting to get to third.
Now with the gift 2nd out, and the pitcher on first, the lineup rolled back to Acuna. Miles went to 3-0, with none of the pitches close to the zone. After a mound meeting with Master Yadi, Acuna swung on a 3-0 curve, obviously thinking he’d get the heater. Miles then went back to a breaking pitch, throwing a slider that was middle-in that Acuna fortunately got under and skied out to Bader in center. Whew! Miles threw fewer than half the pitches he did in the first, but his 12 pitches in the second bumped his total up to 39.
Top of 3rd
The offense took more baby steps against Dallas, producing a mini rally, but a double play killed it.
Hopefully Bader watched last inning’s hitters who made good contact. He led off and after getting down 0-2, he ultimately hit a sharp grounder, but it was close enough to Swanson’s backhand for him to easily throw out the speeder Harry. I guess encouraged by the last inning (bad thought process), Shildt left Miles in to hit. The camera showed a now-empty Cardinal bullpen.
But what do I know!!! The Lizard King jumped all over a sub-90 two-seam fastball he could handle, and he cranked it into left-center for a ground-rule double!
Now the lineup was back to Dex, and on a full count, he earned a free pass, walking to first with, like, not even having to run fast.
Now it was first and second and just one out, providing the meat of the order a good shot to get on the board. Tommy, alas, introduced Keuchel’s best friend to him, grounding out near the bag at third that good defender Donaldson turned into a double play, stepping on third, throwing to first to end the threat. Crap. But at least they made Dallas work for a second-straight inning, now his pitch count was just one less than Miles’ at 38.
Bottom of 3rd
A critical early inning, Miles was now facing the Braves’ 2-4 hitters for a second time. It went really, really well, yo, as he pitched inside much more effectively.
Mikolas exhibited better command against leadoff man Albies, who hit a hot grounder
(101 mph EV) that was stopped by Goldy, who had to pick the ball back off the dirt as it popped off his glove, but he made a long toss to a covering Mikolas for out 1.
Freeman was up next and was in definite swing mode, hacking at every single pitch, ultimately striking out on a well-placed cut-fastball that ran in on the lefty hitter for out 2. It was the first K for either pitcher.
Miles continued the good mini trend of not throwing sucky pitches, getting in Donaldson’s kitchen, jamming him as well on an easy ground-out to Edman for his first clean, three-up, three-down inning.
Top of 4th
So after the Cards 1-2-3 first inning, the Cards put baserunners on during the last two. They continued that trend, with more baserunners but got denied by the dastardly double play once again.
Cleanup hitter Goldschmidt led off, with no one to clean up except for himself. But he got things going in an awesome way, hitting a well-placed grounder down the third-base line for a double, pulling his hands in just enough to get just enough good-enough wood on that one.
Marcell stepped in to at least move Goldy along. He was patient and got the count full, ultimately laying off a change-up that fluttered way low and away. The Braves had a mound visit as righty former closer Luke Jackson started warming up.
Molina got a little too aggressive and went after a 2-0 down-and-away slider, bouncing into a hurtful double play down the line at third that Donaldson snagged and stepped on the bag then easily threw him out, 5-3, mirroring the previous inning’s DP off the bat of Edman.
Now it was up to DeJong to keep the inning alive with Ozuna on second and two outs. Pauly D got the count to 3-0, then the Braves intentionally walked him to bring up Wong, who nailed a hard-luck line-out in his first at-bat. Alas, Wong couldn’t come up with the big hit this time, rolling over on a slider to second to end the inning.
Bottom of 4th
Miles was out to prove now that he had settled down and would keep the Braves at bay. He kept the good vibes going, as he tamed his breaking pitches much better than earlier in the game.
Fifth-place hitter Markakis started things off, and Miles went to a full count, but got him swinging on a two-seamer on the inner half.
Then on a 2-2 count to Joyce, Miles spiked a slider and a curve back-to-back in the dirt before getting Joyce to top a slider off the plate outside to Tommy, who ranged easily to his left and threw him out easily for out 2.
McCann stepped in and obligingly grounded out to second on a nice second-pitch slider for Miles’ second-straight 1-2-3 inning and 7th hitter retired in a row.
Top of 5th
The Cards busted out the speed tool from their offensive arsenal to scratch across a run!
Harry Bader once again lead off, as he did in the third. He got fortunate and was able to use his lightning speed, as he tapped a grounder to the left of Dallas, who wheeled and threw but the throw was way late, for the infield hit.
Miles now was up to do that NL pitcher job of sac-bunting the runner to second. On a 1-2 count after two fouled bunts, he remained in bunt mode, and came through, getting it down. It went back toward Keuchel, but it was deadened enough to allow Bader to reach second without a throw, as Dallas wisely opted to get Miles at first.
Now Dex got a RISP shot. On the second pitch, Tots caught the Braves snoozing, as he pilfered third easily, making things a little easier on the offense to get their first run on the board. Dex laid off tough pitches then made contact on a down-away change-up, grounding out to second. Bader was totally in on-contact mode, and his legs carried him home without a throw, tying the game 1-1!!! Albies peeked at Bader but wisely took the out at first.
Tommy Edman then blooped one to shallow left-center that Markakis dove to his left at; but, it glanced off the edge of his glove for a hit! Again flashing Cards’ speed, hustling Tommy made it to second standing up for a 2-out double!
That was the end for Dallas, as the Braves brought in righty submariner Darren O’Day to face Goldy. They pulled Keuchel at 74 pitches.
With the Bench Mafia’s M&M Boyz, Munoz and Martinez (Jose) cheering Goldy on giddily, Pauly G got out in front of an 80-mph low-and-away slider, lining it softly to short, where Swanson dove to his left and snagged to end the inning.
Bottom of 5th
Miles looked to build on the better control he exhibited in the 4th to stay on a good roll. Despite giving up a 2-out double, he kept the Braves from tacking on. It would be his final inning.
He retired lead-off man Swanson neatly on his second offering, getting him to ground out directly to Pauly D at short. Pinch-hitter Rafael Ortega came in and skied one way high to shallow right that Dex called for and snagged for out 2.
Third Time Through the Order Alert! Now back to the top of the order, Miles didn’t get his fastball inside enough, and Acuna smacked it for a double to left-center. That was the first baserunner since the 2nd inning.
Trying to change Albies’ eye level, Miles went up and down in the zone with fastballs and curves. At a 1-2 count, Yadi made a mound visit to give Webb more time to continue warming up, indicating this was to be the last batter Miles would face. Nikolas hung tough, staying up top with a four-seamer, getting Ozzie to pop up to Goldschmidt to the right of the mound to end the inning.
Top of 6th
Righty reliever Shane Greene now came on for the Braves. The Cards blew great RISP chances to keep the game tied.
Like Goldy did previously, Ozuna pulled in his hands nicely on an off-the-plate inner fastball, yanking it just fair down the left-field line for a lead-off double!
In “get him over” mode, veteran playoff guru threw his bat at a slider a foot outside, rolling a slow grounder to short. Ozuna exhibited great base running, read it immediately, and advanced safely to third with one out.
Now with the dreaded man on third one out sitch-ee-ashun, DeJong went fishing on a low-outside slider, got out on his front foot, popping it up at short for the second out. With Wong up and first base open, the Braves opted to intentionally walk him to get to Bader. Couldn’t blame them.
On a 2-0 count, Harrison expected fastball, but got the slider. He dropped his back shoulder, looking for launch angle to “do damage”; alas, the damage was done to himself, as he created extreme launch angle on the off-speed breaking pitch, popping out to Freeman in foul territory off first base.
Bottom of 6th
Lefty Tyler Webb now came in as the first reliever for the Cards. He didn’t finish the inning. A hit batter, bad-luck double, intentional walk to load the bases, and an error produced 2 Braves runs.
Facing lefty Freeman first, Webb retired him on an easy grounder to Edman for out 1. Brebbia and Fernandez warmed up. Next batter Donaldson caught a break as he popped one up behind the plate that just barely fell on the other side of the net. On a 1-1 count, Webb tried to get inside, but got a fastball too far inn, just barely nailing Josh on his left pinky to put him on.
The Cards got a bad break as Markakis pounded a high bouncer into the turf that flew over a leaping Goldy’s outstretched glove, rolling into right field. Donaldson, assuming it was going to be an out at first, stopped at second briefly, but then continued to third. Markakis made it safely to second to make it second and third, one out.
Shildt opted then to intentionally walk righty pinch-hitter Adam Duvall to load the bases. After a long pause, the Braves finally sent up a second pinch hitter, righty Francisco Cervelli. Shildt countered by replacing Webb with Giovanny Gallegos.
Pitching in the biggest situation in this game and in his young career, Gio jumped out ahead, 0-2 with back-back heaters, one low, one high. He then barely missed a perfect 2-strike pitch down and in. After a foul, Gio yanked a fastball way outside that Cervelli offered at, and got rung up on with the check-swing strike call from the first-base up for a huge second out!
Swanson now entered, as Gio threw the first two in the dirt that Yadi thankfully blocked. A cat-and-mouse game ensured, as Molina called time out to slow Gio down and give him a firm talking-to. No one was warming up for the Cards, so it was Gio’s inning. Swanson called time out. Then Gallegos pulled another one into the dirt to make it 3-0.
He got the next fastball in for a strike, but at 3-1, Swanson hit a hard grounder right at Edman that bounced up off his chest. It rolled to DeJong, who threw errantly to second, bouncing it to Wong, and the runner was safe. As the balled rolled from Wong, 2 runs scored with no throw to make it 3-1 Braves now. Initially both Edman and DeJong were charged with errors. The one at Edman was later changed to a hit.
After that disaster, Gio re-grouped to strike out pinch-hitter Adeiny Hechavarria on three pitches. Woulda been nice to see that one batter earlier.
Top of 7th
Hard-throwing lefty Max Fried came in now for the Braves. They also made several defensive changes: Markakis from left to right; Duvall stayed in to play left; Cervelli came in to catch. Cafecito came in to pinch-hit for Gio. The Cards couldn’t get anything going.
On a full count that was initially a good at-bat, Jose ultimately chased an up-and-away 96 mph fastball, whiffing on it for out 1. Dex then totally got jobbed on a 2-2 down-and-in slider that was out of the zone but called strike 3 for the second out.
Tommy then made it a clean inning for the Braves, as he offered at the first pitch, grounding out meekly to second.
Bottom of 7th
The Cards got extreme luck this inning, as Brebbia gave up a lead-off single that should’ve been a double, and Miller got out of a man-on-second, one-out jam on a 104-mph EV line-out double play.
Acuna skied a deep fly to right, and thinking it was going out, he trotted down first still holding his bat. Instead, the ball bounced high off the wall, and Dex fielded it cleanly, firing to second, as Acuna had to remain at first due to his hot-dogging jogging.
Brebbia then pitched very carefully to Albies, targeting all around the edges of the zone. On a 3-2 count, Albies hit a blazing two-hopper (the second hop was of the short variety) just to Kolten’s left, who stabbed it cleanly and with his momentum going toward first, took the out there, as Acuna advanced to second.
With speed at second and one out, with the lefty swinger Freeman up next, Shildt brought in Miller to calm things. Miller got ahead 1-2 on the compromised Freeman then absolutely plunked him square on the right butt cheek to make it first and second, one out.
Scary Donaldson then stepped up to cash in. The Cards got absolutely, amazingly lucky, as on an 0-1 count, Josh blistered a liner right at DeJong, who didn’t have to move to catch it, and he tossed to Wong at second to double off Acuna, who was not close at all to getting back.
Top of 8th
The Braves sent out new righty reliever Chris Martin for the 8th, but he exited during his warmups, clutching his left oblique area. So the Braves had to quickly change course, then bringing in righty Luke Jackson. That did not turn out well for them.
Goldschmidt led off with the game quickly running out of innings. But he wasted no time, greeting the late-replacement reliever with a lonnng homer to the Hank Aaron Terrace in high, deep, deep, left to suddenly make it 3-2!!! It exited at 112 mph; going 446 feet, yo!!!
Goldy says, "Not so fast!" pic.twitter.com/dUt9k1DIW3— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) October 4, 2019
Jackson re-grouped to strike out Marcell swinging on an in-the-dirt slider, over but way low. Yadi then broke his bat in grounding out to Donaldson, who had to reach a little to his left. Taking his time, he actually threw wild, and it brought Freeman off the bag, but he was able to tag out Yadi, who failed in his attempt to dance around it.
With two out, DeJong kept the inning alive, buzzing a hot grounder between third and short, beyond a diving Donaldson. After three-straight throws to first, Wong then nailed an up-and-away 97 mph fastball the other way, singling to left, pushing Pauly D to second.
The Braves then called in their closer, Mark Melancon, to attempt the first out of the 4-out save. Shildt gave Matt Carpenter the nod to grab a bat to hit for Bader in this additional scoring opportunity for the Cards. Cabrera and El Gallo warmed up.
After getting behind 1-2 (the second strike the result of a gift call beyond the bottom of the zone), Carp battled to get a full count. With the runners going, Carp fouled one off. Re-setting the drama, Carp then sent a medium fly ball close to the left-field line that dropped in front of Duvall! Goldy scored easily from second to tie the score, but Kolten attempted scoring from first as well, and he was cut down by about 5 feet, as Duvall’s one-hop throw was perfect to nail him.
New ballgame! pic.twitter.com/lTLcoLKAwc— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) October 4, 2019
But tie score, 3-3!!!
Bottom of 8th
With Bader now out, Dex moved to center. Edman went to right, to make room for Carpenter at third. Miller, Helsley, and El Gallo prevented further scoring, working around a one-out single.
Miller got Markakis out ahead on an actually good down-and-away slider, and he lofted it to left for a can of corn to Marcell. With right Duvall up next, that was it for Miller, as Shildt brought in righty Ryan Helsley.
Rookie Helsley’s first two pitches were sliders, and at 1-1, he hurled a fastball up and out over the plate, and Duvall hit hit hard into left for a single. Next batter Cervelli, checking his swing twice successfully against low cutters, worked the count full. Duvall was running to stay out of the double play, and it worked, as Cervelli grounded to DeJong’s backhand, and Pauly’s only choice was to throw to first, nailing that runner, with the lead runner advancing to second.
Shildt then double-switched, bringing in El Gallo to “close” this inning out. Randy Arozarena came into center, moving Dex back to right. Tommy went back to third, and Carpenter sat back in the dugout, out of the game.
So with 2 out and a runner on second, Carlos was nails, K’ing Swanson on a 96 mph 2-seamer that was hell-bent on the down-and-in corner for the third out!
Top of 9th
Randy Arozarena, making his career playoff debut, lead off the inning. During the at-bat, he fouled one in the stands that Chipper Jones caught one-handed. Randy ultimately grounded slowly to short, but Swanson made a nice charging play, getting lots on his throw to nail the runner by a half-step.
Dex got his second hit of the night, though, singling on an 0-2 knuckle-curve that caught too much of the down-and-away quadrant, sending a soft liner into left-center. Batting lefty now, Edman smacked a solid grounder just to the left of the diving Albies, into right, as Dex deked the right fielder by pausing ever-so-briefly at second, but then motoring on to third, sliding head first and barely hanging onto the bag with his fingertips.
Now with runners on first and third and one out, Goldy stomped in. He patiently ignored four-straight offerings that Melancon offered, all easily out of the zone, for the unintentional/intentional walk to load the bases!
Now Ozuna with the biggest chance to put the Cards ahead.
AND THE BIG BEAR CAME THROUGH, SIZZLING AN 0-2 KNUCKLE-CURVE OVER BUT BELOW THE ZONE JUST INSIDE THE LEFT-FIELD LINE PAST THIRD FOR A 2-RUN DOUBLE!!! 5-3 CARDS!!!
October 4, 2019
With Yadi up and a base open, the Braves opted to intentionally walk him, re-loading the bases with just one out and DeJong up to try to tack on. Alas, he could not dial in the knuckle curve as Ozuna did, swinging over it, striking out to bring up Kolten.
ON THE FIRST PITCH, THE TRYIN’ HAWAIIAN KNEW DAT KNUCKLE CURVE WAS COMING, AND HE GOT IT—YANKING IT DOWN THE FIRST-BASE LINE FOR ANOTHER 2-RUN DOUBLE!!!
Nothing Wong with insurance! pic.twitter.com/04wy0EiIdt— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) October 4, 2019
FREAKIN’ 7-3 CARDINAAAAAAALS!!!
That knocked out the Braves’ closer Melancon, replaced by lefty Sean Newcomb. The pitcher’s spot was up, but El Gallos got the at-bat to stay in the game to pitch the bottom of the 9th. With second and third and 2 out, Carlos struck out swinging. I’m just glad he didn’t get plunked or hurt himself swinging or running.
Bottom of 9th
Pinch hitter/speed demon Billy Hamilton was brought in to lead off the 9th for the Braves. Carlos came out firing strikes, getting ahead 0-2 and getting jobbed on a not-called strike three that actually kissed the upper-right part of the zone. But then Hamilton laid off bad pitches to work the dreaded lead-off walk. Ugh.
Now the top of the order came around with Acuna. On on 0-1 pitch, Carlos threw a 97 mph fastball over and not nearly down enough, and he crushed it into deep left-center for a 2-run homer to make it 7-5 now Cards.
Maddux then spent the Cards’ last mound visit before next hitter Albies came up. After blasting a long foul down the right-field line, Albies tapped a slow roller to Edman at third, who charged it and got good zip on the throw, but it was a bit high. Goldy had to use all of his 6-2 frame to stretch and grab the throw, but it was hard to tell if his toe remained on the bag. The call on the field was out, and it was upheld (or not changed due to insufficient evidence) upon review.
Now with that key first out done, Freeman entered, and on a 2-1 pitch, the bad-elbowed Freeman somehow crushed a middle-up 99 mph four-seamer over the wall to dead center, making it a one-run game, 7-6. WTF!?
Carlos and Yadi went to sliders to Donaldson, ultimately getting him to ground out slowly toward the bag at second that Wong deftly scooped, threw across his body, and flung to Goldy, who amazingly dug out an in-between long hop for the second out.
Down to their last out in the person of Markakis, Carlos did not use a single fastball, instead using 2 sliders that bookended around 2 change-ups to strike him out swinging!!!
Cards won, 7-6!!!!!
THE BOTTOM LINE
- This was the 5th time the Cards and Braves have met in the post-season.
Man, did people get their entertainment value.
- Mikolas had not pitched for 10 long days, perhaps the reason for his early-game troubles.
- The 27 pitches Miles threw in the first inning was the most he has thrown in the first all season. Rust, yo.
- At the start of the game, it was 94 degrees, the hottest Atlanta post-season game in their history. On-field temps later were shown to be over 100.
Munoz and Cafecito were seen frying eggs atop Marcell’s bald head.
- The Braves came into tonight with a record of 75-26 when scoring first.
That’s different now.
- Yadi leads all active catchers in post-season base stealers thwarted.
- The first strikeout in the game by either pitcher was achieved by Miles against Freeman in the 3rd.
- Bader’s steal of third in the 5th was the first off Keuchel all (of his half) season
- Originally, the snafus in the 6th that produced 2 runs were scored as 2 errors. If one had not later been changed to a hit, it would’ve been the first time the Cards had 3 errors in a game all season.
- Through 5 innings, neither team had a hit with RISP.
Ultimately, the Cards went 3-13 with RISP; the Braves went 1-11.
- Each Cardinal starter had at least one hit (including Miles!) except for Yadi
(who did walk once).
5 of the 8 position players each had 2 hits.
- Goldy’s shot in the 8th was his 5th-career post-season homer.
- Before giving up 2 dingers tonight, Carlos had only given up 2 homers all season.
- Tomorrow is a mid-afternoon affair, starting at 3:37 CT, with Jack going against
Mike Foltynewicz. I will try to pretend to still be working.