The Atlanta Braves will be coming back home for Game 5 after dropping Game 4 of the NLDS. This time, it was St. Louis who pulled off the late-innings comeback to win the game.
Things got sideways for the Atlanta Braves almost immediately in Game 4. After failing to capitalize on Ronald Acuna getting on base to start the game, Dallas Keuchel came out to start Game 4 for the Braves. Keuchel started great, getting a ground ball and strikeout from the first two batters. The trouble came with Paul Goldschmidt and Marcell Ozuna, who both hit solo shots off Keuchel to make the score 2-0 in the first inning.
The Braves would strike their blow in the 3rd inning when Dansby Swanson got the inning started with a single. Acuna would bring Swanson around to 3rd base when Ozzie Albies drove him home with a sacrifice fly. The score was 2-1 going into the 4th.
Dallas Keuchel would settle into the game, getting through the 2nd and 3rd innings without any issue. It was the 4th inning, when Ozuna leadoff the inning with his 2nd home run of the game and Keuchel walked Matt Carpenter, that Keuchel’s day would come to an end.
After Jackson got out of the bottom of the 4th, the Braves would start their rally in the top of the 5th. Once again, Dansby Swanson got the inning started with a double and would later advance on a rare passed ball by Yadier Molina. Adam Duvall, who’s been excellent all season, brought Dansby home to make the score 3-2. After Acuna flew out, Albies would blast a two-run home run to make the score 4-3.
The Braves would have another opportunity to add some insurance runs in the next inning. The bottom of the Braves lineup would get the offense started, loading up the bases. Adam Duvall came up with another chance to be the hero of the game but struck out with the bases loaded to end the threat.
In the next inning, the 7th, Ronald Acuna led off the inning with a triple. Ozzie Albies and Freddie Freeman both failed to bring Acuna home. Josh Donaldson, intentionally, and Nick Markakis both walked to load the bases. Adieny Hechavarria was brought on to pinch-hit for the pitcher. Adieny would hit a long fly ball, that looked like it had a chance to go, but would fall short to end the inning and another Braves threat.
Finally, the Cardinals would make the Braves pay for their wasted opportunities. Shane Greene was on to pitch the 8th inning. It started well for Greene, getting Kolten Wong out to start the game. Paul Goldschmidt would complicate things by hitting a double after Wong got out. Greene retired Ozuna, something that had been difficult all day, but it was Molina that would make the difference. Yadier Molina hit a weak pop-fly that went off the tip of Freddie Freeman’s glove to fall, bringing home Goldschmidt to tie the game.
Once again, in the 9th inning, the Braves would have a chance to take back the lead. Acuna leadoff the inning with a double off Carlos Martinez, a guy who has struggled the entire series. However, the heart of the Braves lineup would come up short again. Albies, Freeman, and Donaldson would be retired to end the Braves threat.
The game would go to extra innings after the Cardinals failed to end the game in the bottom of the 9th. At the bottom of the 10th, Kolten Wong would hit a leadoff double. Molina would bring Wong home with a sacrifice fly to end the game, forcing a winner-take-all Game 5.
The Atlanta Braves have themselves and themselves only to blame for having to come back to Atlanta to play in this Game 5. The Braves had ample opportunities to close the Cardinals out in St. Louis but failed to, which could be their playoff life. The heart of this lineup, Freeman, Donaldson, Markakis, Matt Joyce, and Brian McCann, has been awful. It’s been the top and bottom of the lineup that has kept the Braves in this series. Now, the Braves have one game to decide their season fate.
Game 5 will be on Wednesday at 5:00 p.m. in Atlanta. Mike Foltynewicz will be the projected starter but I could also see Mike Soroka being available, which would be his first-ever return from three days rest, as a big-league player. It’s going to be a tension-filled game on Wednesday. Buckle up.