With two outs and a runner in scoring position in a close game Thursday, the Cardinals brought in Carlos Martinez to face Dansby Swanson. Martinez struck out Swanson, the game remained tied going into the ninth inning and the rest is history.
On Sunday, the Cardinals sought a similar outcome.
Swanson sought revenge.
The Cards intentionally walked Brian McCann to bring Swanson to the plate with runners on the corners and two outs in the ninth inning of Sunday's NLDS Game 3, and Swanson delivered an RBI double in a game the Braves would eventually win. The team took a 2-1 series lead with the 3-1 victory, and they're now a win away from their first National League Championship Series appearance since 2001.
It wouldn't be possible without Swanson, who's batting eighth for the Braves but who's come through as often as anyone through the series' first three games.
"I love Dansby in those situations," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "I always have. That kid lives for that moment. And he's been big for us the last few years since he's been up."
The Cardinals thought Swanson was the guy they wanted up in that situation, too. With pinch-runner Billy Hamilton on third base and two outs, Cardinals manager Mike Shildt opted to walk pinch-hitter McCann and have Martinez face Swanson with the game on the line.
"Everybody felt like that was the best matchup, including the guy on the mound," Shildt said about the decision. "Took our shot. Didn't make a pitch, and [Swanson] made him pay."
The late-game fireworks overshadowed gems from both teams' starters. Braves rookie Mike Soroka allowed a run on just two hits over seven innings of work, cruising for long stretches Sunday as he showed why he's likely to be an NL Rookie of the Year finalist.
But it was battle-worn veteran Adam Wainwright who stole the show for the first eight innings. The right-hander scattered four hits and two walks while striking out eight in 7 2/3 shutout frames, and after reliever Andrew Miller got the dangerous Freddie Freeman to fly out with the bases loaded to end the top of the eighth inning Wainwright was in line for his first postseason win since 2013.
After Swanson doubled to tie the game, Adam Duvall, who had entered as a pinch-hitter in the eighth, knocked a two-run single to center field to give the Braves the lead. In the bottom of the ninth, Braves closer Mark Melancon worked around a one-out double to secure his second save of the series.
The two sides will meet again Monday afternoon in St. Louis for Game 4. The Cardinals will send young Dakota Hudson to the mound in a must-win game, and the Braves will counter with either Julio Teheran or Dallas Keuchel, who would be pitching on three days' rest.
Corbin Offers Little Relief For Nats In Game 3 Loss
The Nationals have lived by -- and are arguably still alive because of -- the sword.
On Sunday, they died by it as well.
Nationals manager Dave Martinez has been ultra-aggressive in deploying his starters as relievers this postseason, a move that paid off in the NL Wild Card Game when Stephen Strasburg picked up the win in relief of a pedestrian Max Scherzer. A similar strategy in Game 2 got the Nats a win as Scherzer struck out the side in an eighth inning relief appearance.
It was Patrick Corbin's turn Sunday, and the southpaw, who's started 187 of his 205 career appearances, was knocked around by the Dodgers in a seven-run sixth inning that proved to be the difference in a 10-4 Dodgers victory in Game 3 of the NLDS. Corbin was charged with six of the seven runs while recording just two outs before exiting.
The inning started with Corbin entering to protect a one-run lead after Anibal Sanchez -- not Max Scherzer -- started the game and gave the Nats five strong innings. Sanchez struck out nine while allowing only a Max Muncy solo homer in his five innings of work.
Corbin yielded a sharp single to Cody Bellinger to start the frame but then struck out Corey Seager and A.J. Pollock and appeared on his way to a stress-free inning. Even David Freese's two-out single to put runners at the corners seemed harmless enough with eighth-place hitter Russell Martin stepping in.
But Martin creamed a Corbin slider into the gap in left-center field, plating both runs to give the Dodgers the lead. A walk and another two-run double, this one by Enrique Hernandez, followed and Corbin was asked to intentionally walk Max Muncy before being yanked. Reliever Wander Suero promptly gave up a three-run homer to Justin Turner to break the game open.
Juan Soto had given the Nationals an early lead when he belted a chest-high Hyun-Jin Ryu fastball over the wall in center field for a two-run homer in the first inning, the only two runs Ryu would allow in his five innings of work. The Nats added two more in the bottom of the sixth inning but fell short in their rally attempt.
If Martinez felt an urgency before, he surely will now that the Washington club is a game away from elimination. The team will send Scherzer to the mound Monday to face Dodgers veteran Rich Hill. Martinez has already said Game 4 will be all-hands-on-deck as they try to get the series back to Los Angeles for a decisive Game 5.
Angels, Maddon To Meet On Monday
A meeting Monday regarding the future of the Angels' managerial position is viewed by many as a formality for both sides.
Free agent manager Joe Maddon is meeting with the Angels on Monday, and The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal reports the Halos are Maddon's "No. 1 choice" among his suitors. The Padres are also rumored to be interested in setting up a meeting with the former Cubs and Rays manager.
On the Angels front, the team has been believed to have Maddon at the top of their list since they let manager Brad Ausmus go after just one season. Ausmus' Angels club went 72-90 in 2019.
If Maddon were to be the team's next manager it would be a reunion for the two sides, with Maddon having started his coaching career -- after four years as a catcher in the Angels' farm system -- with the organization in 1979. He left the franchise in 2005 to become the manager of the Rays.
The interview is the first on the books for Maddon after his contract was not renewed by the Cubs. The Angels have not had any other interviews -- at least none reported publicly -- for their managerial opening to date.
Quick Hits: Victor Robles is day to day with a "very, very mild" right hamstring strain, Nationals manager Dave Martinez said Sunday. Robles was not in the Nationals' lineup for Sunday's NLDS Game 3 against the Dodgers, but it doesn't sound like the kind of thing that will keep him down for long. In fact, Martinez said Robles was available to pinch-hit Sunday. Michael A. Taylor started in center field Sunday in Robles' stead.