If you enjoyed watching Mike Foltynewicz and Jack Flaherty duke it out last Friday afternoon, good news - it looks like we might have ourselves a rematch. With the Cardinals’ brutal 5-4 victory over the Braves today, the NLDS will head back to Atlanta for a winner-take all Game 5.
Some late inning bullpen nonsense, coupled with the Cardinals’ inherent ability to channel voodoo, allowed St. Louis to improbably string together one of the more heartbreaking rallies in recent memory.
Playoff-hardened veteran Dallas Keuchel has had two unsuccessful starts with the Braves thus far. While he was able to minimize damage during his start in Game 1, he was not nearly as lucky this time around. All three runs he gave up during his 3 ⅓ innings were via the home run ball, two of which were supplied by Marcell Ozuna and his weird beard. With tomorrow’s off day, the bullpen should be able to recover after being forced to cover more than six innings today.
Keuchel’s first inning in particular was nothing to write home about, giving up back-to-back home runs to Paul Goldschmidt and Ozuna, and staking the Cardinals to an early 2-0 lead. The already pumped Busch Stadium crowd, which rarely needs a specific reason to get whipped up into a frenzy, went predictably berserk.
The Braves got one back in the top of the third inning, after Dansby Swanson scored on a sacrifice fly from Ozzie Albies.
The Ozuna Show continued in the fourth inning, as he drove a low slider into the left center field seats and stretched the lead back to two runs.
After being sharp for the first several innings, Dakota Hudson’s control started to waver in the middle innings and Braves hitters grew more patient. In the fifth, a relaxed Swanson slapped a double that ricocheted off the third base bag, then took third on a rare passed ball by Yadier Molina. After Matt Carpenter botched a grounder off the bat of Adam Duvall, Swanson came around to score, then Ozzie Albies stepped to the table and set Braves Country on fire all the way from Missouri.
OZZIE ALBIES APPRECIATION TWEET pic.twitter.com/82rgq1Td1c— FOX Sports: Braves (@FOXSportsBraves) October 7, 2019
That was the end of the line for Hudson.
The Braves had multiple opportunities to pad their lead with insurance runs, but were unable to break through. They managed to load the bases in the sixth and seventh innings, but a strikeout from Duvall in the sixth and a deep fly out from Adeiny Hechavarria in the seventh squashed both threats.
The Braves bullpen was worked hard today, using six relievers to cover the innings Keuchel couldn’t make it through. After leaning on Luke Jackson, Darren O’Day, Sean Newcomb, and Josh Tomlin, Shane Greene got the nod for the final five outs. He wasn’t able to come through unscathed.
In the eighth inning, the Cardinals strung together another quick and dirty rally, with Goldschmidt’s broken bat double setting the stage for Molina to follow with an RBI single to tie it up at 4.
For all of the hullabaloo surrounding Julio Teheran’s omission from and subsequent addition to the NLDS roster, it was only a matter of time before he would wind up becoming a factor in this series. He gave up a leadoff double to Kolten Wong, who came around to score three batters later.
It’s fine. I’m not mad. Really, it’s fine. Things are fine. It’s fine.
IT IS FINE.
These two teams will battle again on Wednesday night in Atlanta. Go ahead and cross your fingers that the Devil Magic stays in St Louis.