The Atlanta Braves took a 2-1 lead in the NLDS over the St. Louis Cardinals today when the team pulled out a 9th inning comeback to shock the home team. The Braves take their first series lead since 2001.
Coming into Game 3, the Braves had their ace on the mound, Mike Soroka. Soroka, in his first-ever postseason start, would be facing off with Adam Wainwright, a pitcher who had more postseason starts than Soroka has career starts. In today’s game, Soroka proved why he is the best pitchers on this Braves staff.
A lot of questions were asked when Brian Snitker moved Mike Soroka’s final regular-season start back so his first postseason start would come in Game 3, moving Mike Foltynewicz’s start to Game 2. In the past two games, Snitker has been proven correct in his moves, whether he knew what he was doing or not. After the stellar performance, Folty had in Game 2, Soroka tried to one-up him.
Mike Soroka started the game off hot, striking out the first two hitters and retiring the third on a pop-out. The second inning would be the only blemish on Soroka’s immaculate day. Marcell Ozuna stayed hot, starting the second inning with a double. Yadier Molina would get Ozuna to third. Matt Carpenter would get Ozuna home on a sacrifice fly to give the Cardinals an early 1-0 lead.
After surrendering one run in the 2nd, Soroka locked it down. Soroka would end his day going 7 innings, giving up 2 hits, one earned run and striking out seven. Ozuna was responsible for the two hits, the double in the 2nd and a single in the 7th. It was a completely dominant performance from the 22-year-old Soroka, who was making his first-ever playoff start. This has been a known thing all season, but the Braves have something very, very special with Mike Soroka.
The most impressive thing about Soroka’s performance was the fact he was going pitch for pitch with Adam Wainwright. Soroka had no room for a mistake because of what Wainwright was doing against the Braves offense. Wainwright tossed his own gem, going 7.2 innings with 4 hits and no earned runs. Wainwright’s game should not be forgotten, which it likely will be, because of how special he was today.
Wainwright did a great job keeping the Braves offense quiet all day. Ronald Acuna, Freddie Freeman, Josh Donaldson, and Nick Markakis combined for a 1-15 game. Ozzie Albies and Dansby Swanson were the only guys able to find any success off Wainwright. Ozzie went 2 for 4 today, one of the lone exceptions of the day. Dansby Swanson went 3 for 4 and was the hero of the game.
Even though Dansby Swanson was the man who tied the game, it was a complete team effort to get the game to that point. Going into the 9th inning, the Braves down 1-0, Carlos Martinez came in from the bullpen to close the game out. He immediately got into trouble when Josh Donaldson hit a double to start the inning. Billy Hamilton would come in to pinch-hit.
It looked like the 9th inning rally would fall short after Nick Markakis and Adeiny Hechavarria both struck out to get the Braves to their final out. This is when the Cardinals decided to intentionally walk Brian McCann to get to Dansby Swanson. Rafael Ortega would come on to run for McCann. Swanson tied the game with a double. Adam Duvall, who’s been amazing this entire series, singled to bring home Ortega and Swanson, making the game 3-1.
After the huge momentum swing in the top of the 9th, Mark Melancon would come on to save the game for the Braves. Melancon had to work through the heart of the St. Louis lineup going through Kolten Wong, Paul Goldschmidt, and Ozuna. Goldschmidt would get a double to put the pressure of Melancon, but he closed out the game with no other issues.
With the win, the Braves take a massive 2-1 game lead in the series. The Braves have a chance to win a playoff series, something that hasn’t been done by the Braves in almost 20 years. Now. going into Game 4, the Braves will likely have a mixture of Dallas Keuchel, Julio Teheran, Max Fried, and whoever else Snitker can throw out there. The Braves will be gunning hard to close this series out quickly and in St. Louis.