Cards Win a Wild Game One vs. Braves
The Braves had the Cardinals right where they wanted them in Game 1 of the NLDS on Thursday, carrying a 3-1 lead into the eighth inning. The back-end of the bullpen became a strength for the club after the July 31 trade deadline, so there was reason to have some confidence as Chris Martin made his way to the mound for his warm-up pitches. But the game went completely sideways from that point forward, resulting in a wild 7-6 win for the Cardinals.
Martin actually never threw a pitch in the eighth, as he suffered an oblique injury during his warm-ups. Luke Jackson took over from there and quickly gave up a homer to the first batter he faced, as Paul Goldschmidt crushed one over the left field fence. Paul DeJong and Kolten Wong kept the inning alive with consecutive two-out singles before Mark Melancon was asked to escape the jam. It didn’t happen, as Matt Carpenter dropped a sinking liner just inside the left field line, plating DeJong with the tying run before Wong was thrown out also trying to score.
Melancon stuck around for the ninth in a tie game, but he struggled to put the Cardinals away, loading the bases to set up a two-run double from Marcell Ozuna. It’s worth wondering why Braves manager Brian Snitker left Melancon in for so long, but he actually hung around for two more batters (an intentional walk to Yadier Molina and a strikeout of Paul DeJong) before Kolten Wong doubled in two more runs. Sean Newcomb finally put out the fire by striking out Cardinals closer Carlos Martinez.
The Braves actually made things interesting in the bottom of the ninth, as Ronald Acuna, Jr. connected for a two-run blast against Martinez — and irked Martinez in the process — and Freddie Freeman added a long solo shot to center field. Facing a one-run deficit with one out, the Braves failed to put anything else together, as Josh Donaldson grounded out and Nick Markakis struck out to end it.
The starting pitchers didn’t last long in this one, as Miles Mikolas allowed one run in five innings while Dallas Keuchel yielded one run in 4 2/3 innings despite not striking out a batter. The Braves took advantage of some rare defensive miscues by Wong and DeJong to grab the early advantage.
In addition to losing Game 1 at home, the Braves’ bullpen now carries big question marks. Martin will almost certainly be replaced on the NLDS roster and Mark Melancon probably won’t be available to pitch in Game 2 on Friday after throwing 28 pitches on Thursday.
The Cardinals have put themselves in an enviable position indeed, as staff ace Jack Flaherty is lined up for Game 2. Mike Foltynewicz, who finished strong after returning from the minors, will start for the Braves. First pitch is scheduled for 4:37 p.m. ET.
Dodgers Cruise in Game 1 vs. Nats
With strong starting pitching and a power-packed lineup, the Dodgers posted an National League-best 59-22 record at home this season. They kept that formula going in Game 1 of the NLDS against the Nationals on Thursday, cruising to a 6-0 victory at Dodger Stadium.
Walker Buehler dominated, allowing just one hit — a leadoff single to Juan Soto in the second inning — in six innings while walking three and striking out eight. All three of those walks came in the fourth inning, as he induced a comebacker from Asdrubal Cabrera to escape a tough bases-loaded spot. That was the last major threat of the night for Washington, who managed just two hits on the night.
Patrick Corbin took the loss after allowing one run on three hits and five walks over six innings. Four of those walks came in the first inning, including a bases-loaded walk to Max Muncy. Muncy would later knock in two more runs with a single off Fernando Rodney in the seventh. The Dodgers blew things open in the eighth against Hunter Strickland, as rookie Gavin Lux slugged a pinch-hit solo shot and Joc Pederson hit one off the right field foul pole for a solo homer of his own. Lux, still just 21 years old, is now the youngest player in franchise history with a postseason homer.
After Buehler exited at 100 pitches, Adam Kolarek, Kenta Maeda, and Joe Kelly combined to allow just one baserunner — a single off Kelly in the ninth — with five strikeouts over three scoreless frames to close out the series-opening victory. Buehler essentially picked up from where he left off last postseason, where he threw seven scoreless innings against the Red Sox in Game 3 of the World Series.
After throwing 33 pitches over three scoreless innings for the win in Tuesday’s NL Wild Card game against the Brewers, Stephen Strasburg will try to even things up in Game 2 on Friday night. It doesn’t get any easier for the Nationals, as Clayton Kershaw will make the start for the Dodgers. Taking place at 9:37 p.m. ET, it will be the fourth and final division series game of the day. Get ready for one of the best baseball days of the year.
AL Quick Hits: Jose Berrios will start Game 1 of the ALDS for the Twins while the Yankees will counter with James Paxton … Tyler Glasnow will get the nod to start Game 1 of the ALDS for the Rays while the Astros are going with Justin Verlander … Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said that Luis Arraez (ankle) could still be on the ALDS roster … CC Sabathia will not be on the Yankees’ roster for the ALDS … Adalberto Mondesi is expected to require 5-6 months of recovery time after undergoing a labrum repair on his left shoulder on Thursday, but the Royals are still hopeful he could be ready for Opening Day.
NL Quick Hits: The Mets fired manager Mickey Callaway after he posted a 163-161 record over two seasons on the job … In discussing the Mets’ season, general manager Brodie Van Wagenen said the club intends to have both Noah Syndergaard and Edwin Diaz on the team next year … Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Thursday that it’s very unlikely that Alex Verdugo (oblique, back) will be able to return during the postseason … After letting go of manager Clint Hurdle, the Pirates have also parted ways with pitching coach Ray Searage and bench coach Tom Prince … Jon Heyman of MLB Network reports that Brad Ausmus is expected to interview for the Padres’ managerial vacancy.