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Braves unable to dig out of deep hole in 10-6 loss to Cardinals

The bats were lively tonight for the Braves but it wasn't enough to keep up with the onslaught that the Cardinals unleashed upon Atlanta's pitching staff tonight.

St. Louis Cardinals v Atlanta Braves Photo by Matthew Grimes Jr./Atlanta Braves/Getty Images

In the preview for tonight's game, I suggested that it wouldn't be a good idea to bet against the Atlanta Braves when it came to winning a slugfest. This might've been the night to disregard that advice, as the St. Louis Cardinals did indeed out-slug the Braves on their way to a 10-X victory to open up this series.

Things actually did get off to an encouraging start in the first inning, which is when Michael Soroka pitched a 1-2-3 inning to kick things off and then Ozzie Albies bopped his 29th dinger of the season by swatting one into the Chop House to put the Braves out in front early on. Considering how good the Braves have been in the first inning of games this season, it would’ve been understandable to think that this was going to be the start of another big night in Atlanta's favor.

Instead, the Cardinals ended up taking over the game from this point forward. Following a single and a sacrifice bunt from Wilson Contreras, Jordan Walker began what was a triumphant homecoming back to Georgia with an RBI double to tie the game. Michael Soroka then left a 92 mph fastball high and in the zone for Tyler O’Neill to smash over the fence in left-center to put the Cardinals ahead by two runs at that point. The Braves could’ve gotten something going in their half of the second inning but Tommy Edman proved why he’s such a good defensive outfielder as he made a pair of great catches to rob Atlanta of hits in that frame.

Those catches ended up being important for St. Louis, as they kept on doing damage against Soroka once they returned to the plate. Soroka walked Paul Goldschmidt and ended up getting immediately punished for it as he threw another hanger that got crushed. This time, Nolan Gorman was the one to send a baseball to the seats in left-center field and now the Cardinals were up by four runs. Soroka got out of the inning with a pair of strikeouts, which actually brought his tally to six on the night. Unfortunately, that was all he’d get for the night and was also the end of his night in general as he exited the game following the third inning due to injury.

This meant that Collin McHugh was called upon to eat some innings and he immediately gave up a home run to Jordan Walker upon entering the game in the fourth inning, so any hopes of keeping the Cardinals right there were dashed in a hurry. McHugh was able to get through three innings but the Cardinals picked up exactly where they left off against Michael Soroka.

Jordan Walker got one step closer to the Cycle in the top of the sixth inning as his single started off a rally that ended with the Cardinals being up 9-1 by the time they were done. Walker, O’Neill, Edman and Masyn Winn all reached base safely in a row and after Lars Nootbaar flew out, Paul Goldschmidt hit the single that gave the Cardinals their ninth run of the night to turn this into a very comfortable lead for St. Louis at that point. It could’ve been even worse if not for Michael Harris II robbing Nootbaar in the fourth inning with a catch that definitely brought back what would’ve been the fourth home run of the night for St. Louis.

Atlanta’s offense did come back to life in the sixth inning, which is when Austin Riley and Matt Olson both decided to make some noise in order hopefully spur on a comeback for the Braves — however unlikely those chances were. Either way, it was still pretty sweet to see Riley and Olson go back-to-back to bring the crowd back into the game a bit. Riley got a hold of a meatball and deposited it into Atlanta’s bullpen in right-center field and then Olson ambushed Miles Mikolas and hit the first pitch he saw all the way into the forest in dead center to make it a 9-3 ballgame in favor of St. Louis. These were indeed monster shots but they were solo shots, so it didn’t really do the damage that the Braves needed to really get back into the game at that point.

The scoring paused in the seventh inning but the Braves got back on the scoreboard in the eighth inning. That was when Marcell Ozuna strolled to the plate to lead off the bottom of the eighth and he welcomed reliever Giovanny Gallegos by smacking a bomb to deep left-center for Atlanta’s fourth homer of the night. Once again, it was unfortunate that every home run that the Braves hit to this point was of the solo variety so this made it a five-run game at 9-4.

As it turned out, Atlanta decided to show that they weren’t going to be solely reliant on the long ball tonight. The Braves got a rally going in the eighth inning with one out, as pinch-hitter Orlando Arcia smacked a double to plate Eddie Rosario and then Ronald Acuña Jr. delivered a productive out to push Michael Harris II across home plate and just like that, the Braves were suddenly within three runs of the Cardinals and had moved to within striking distance of the Redbirds.

Michael Tonkin entered the game in relief of Kirby Yates for the ninth inning and unfortunately, this ended up being a very bad time to give up his 10th home run of the season. Nolan Gorman got his second meatball of the night via a sinker from Tonkin that didn't sink enough and his solo shot pushed the Cardinals into double-digits for the night. Tonkin was clean from that point forward but the task in the ninth inning got that much tougher for the Braves.

It especially didn't help that the Cardinals were sending out Ryan Helsley to close things out. While Matt Olson was able to coax a walk out of Helsley, St. Louis’ closer was still as sharp as ever to put away the game and give the Cardinals the upset win in the series opener. It was safe to say that Atlanta's chances in this one hinged on a solid performance from Michael Soroka and unfortunately an injury may have helped contribute to the rough outing for Soroka in this one. Collin McHugh was unable to stop the bleeding and the hole was just too deep for the Braves to dig themselves out of for tonight's game.

Fortunately, the pitching situation figures to be much better going forward in the series — especially since the Braves will have Spencer Strider on the mound for tomorrow night's contest where they'll be trying to even the series up at one game apiece.

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