The Cardinals continued their four-game set in Atlanta on Friday, looking to take game two of the series behind Carlos Martinez. Martinez was shelled for eight runs while recording just nine outs before getting lifted in the fourth in favor of Jake Woodford. Free passes came back to haunt Cardinals pitchers again, as Martinez and Woodford combined for six walks and two hit batsmen through the first four innings of the game. That, combined with the Braves tallying ten hits in the first four frames, put the game out of reach early, especially with how badly the Cards’ offense has been performing of late. Max Fried settled in for the Braves after a laborsome first inning in which he was tagged for a run, and was otherwise stellar as he struck out six in his seven-inning effort. Atlanta’s bullpen made the large lead stick as the Braves took game two of the set with a final score of 9-1.
Tommy Edman led off for the Cardinals, working a full count before lacing a fastball down the left field line for a double. Dylan Carlson saw ten pitches before grounding out softly to third, allowing Edman to advance to third base with one out. Paul Goldschmidt followed another groundout, good for an RBI and a 1-0 Cardinals lead. Nolan Arenado chased a ball in the dirt for a strikeout and the final out in the top half of the inning.
Ronald Acuna, Jr. got hit by a fastball off the end of his elbow pad, taking first to start the bottom of the frame. Freddie Freeman skied a first-pitch fastball for a loud out to the warning track in left field. Acuna, Jr. was then thrown out by Yadier Molina on the sixth pitch to Ozzie Albies, who then doubled down the left field line.
Abraham Almonte drew a walk on six pitches. Austin Riley followed the walk with an RBI single to right field, tying the game 1-1. Dansby Swanson waved at a 1-2 changeup to send the game to the second.
Tyler O’Neill began the second with a popout to second base. Molina walked on a fastball that missed high. Edmundo Sosa grounded into a fielder’s choice, bringing up Paul DeJong with one on and two away. Sosa, however, was picked off at first to end the Cards’ half of the inning.
William Contreras led off the Braves’ half of the frame, ambushing Martinez on the first pitch with a solo home run to secure a 2-1 lead for Atlanta.
Guillermo Heredia stuck out, swinging out in front of a changeup. Fried followed with a groundout to first. Acuna, Jr. drew a walk on a 3-2 changeup that missed inside. Acuna, Jr. then swiped second on the first pitch to Freeman, who laced an RBI single to right for a 3-1 Braves lead. Freeman took second on the throw home that looked like it may have gotten Acuna, Jr. on a close play, but Molina didn’t try to apply the tag and instead threw to second, trying but failing to nab Freeman.
Albies then crushed an 0-1 fastball to the upper deck in right field, as the Braves extended their lead to 5-1. Almonte struck out swinging to end the inning.
DeJong grounded out to second to lead off the third inning. Martinez followed with a swinging strikeout and Edman lined out as the Cards went down in order.
Riley walked on four pitches to begin the bottom of the third but was erased as Swanson grounded into a double play. Contreras took a sinker the other way for a base hit and Heredia drew the second walk in the inning, but Fried grounded out to first for the last out.
Carlson drew a leadoff walk on a low 3-2 slider. Goldschmidt lined an 0-2 slider to left field for the first out, and Arenado hit into a double play as the Cards’ offense continued to flounder.
Acuna, Jr. was hit by another pitch, followed by a single by Freeman, putting runners at the corners with no outs. Albies blooped a single to knock in another run to make it 6-1 and made it to second base (after a challenge by the Braves), giving the Braves runners on second and third with no outs.
Jake Woodford then came in for Martinez and gave up another hit to Almonte, as the Braves continued to pile on, 7-1. Riley flew out deep enough to center for a sacrifice fly to make it 8-1. Swanson, with one on and one out, lined another single to left. Contreras walked as a 3-2 slider missed outside. Heredia, with the bases now loaded and one out, popped out to second. Fried walked, however, scoring another run to bring the score to 9-1. Acuna, Jr. grounded out to third to finally end the inning. The Braves at the end of the fourth had scored nine runs on ten hits, six walks, and two hit batters.
O’Neill struck out looking at a borderline curveball on the outside edge of the plate. Molina then grounded out to shortstop and DeJong went down swinging as the Cardinals were sat down quietly again.
Andrew Knizner took over behind the plate for Yadi in the bottom of the fifth. Freeman and Albies both struck out swinging and Almonte grounded out to second for the final out.
Woodford hit for himself and grounded out to second. Edman followed with his own groundout but to third base. Carlson grounded out as well, dribbling a ball back to Fried for the third out.
Wade LeBlanc pitched the sixth for the Cards and retired Riley on a lineout to left. Swanson flew out to the warning track in left field for the second out. Contreras skied a 1-0 changeup to center to secure a clean inning for LeBlanc.
Goldschmidt struck out swinging way out in front of a breaking ball to start the seventh. Arenado followed suit, swinging under an elevated fastball. O’Neill flew out to left as the Cardinals’ offensive woes continued.
Goldschmidt and Arenado were pulled from the game, with Lane Thomas coming in to play right and Jose Rondon coming in to play first. Edman moved to second and Sosa moved to third. Heredia led off the bottom of the frame with a double down the left field line. Ehire Adrianza popped out to second. Acuna, Jr. walked on four pitches to put two on with one out. Freeman followed with a lineout to center and Albies popped out to right to send the game to the eighth.
Edgar Santana relieved Fried in the eighth. Knizner popped out to third to kick off the inning. Sosa followed, flying out to the warning track in dead center. DeJong blooped a single into center for the third Cardinals hit of the evening, but LeBlanc grounded into a fielder’s choice to end the top of the frame.
Almonte struck out, failing to check his swing on an outside cutter. Riley flew out to the wall in right as Thomas made a great jumping catch to rob the hit. Swanson struck out looking to end the frame.
Jacob Webb got the call to close out the game for the Braves and got Edman to fly out to left. Carlson managed his second walk of the game, but Rondon flew out to the warning track in right for the second out and Thomas flew out left, making the 9-1 score final in favor of Atlanta.
The Cardinals drop to .500 again as they are now 35-35 on the season, but are still just four games behind the first-place Cubs despite the Cards’ struggles over the last few weeks. The Braves improved to 32-35 as they pick up a game on the Mets in the NL East race.
Per the Cardinals’ injury report as of June 17, the Cardinals pitching staff is a ways out yet from receiving any help from pitchers recovering from injuries. Kodi Whitley is expected to be back in the bullpen in late June, but Miles Mikolas and Jordan Hicks aren’t expected to return until August, and Jack Flaherty is likely out until July or even till August. Additionally, Max Moroff is done for the season with a left shoulder subluxation and Harrison Bader, recovering from a hairline fracture in one of his ribs, is expected to return either in late June or early July.
Final Pitching Lines
Martinez (L, 3-8): 3 IP / 8 H / 8 R / 8 ER / 4 BB / 3 K / 2 HR
Woodford: 2 IP / 2 H / 1 R / 1 ER / 2 BB / 2 K / 0 HR
LeBlanc: 3 IP / 1 H / 0 R / 0 ER / 1 BB / 2 K / 0 HR
Fried (W, 4-4): 7 IP / 2 H / 1 R / 1 ER / 2 BB / 6 K / 0 HR
Santana: 1 IP / 1 H / 0 R / 0 ER / 0 BB / 0 K / 0 HR
Webb: 1 IP / 0 H / 0 R / 0 ER / 1 BB / 0 K / 0 HR