Mem­o­ries of the rau­cous play­off at­mos­phere in Toronto re­main vivid for Braves’ Josh Don­ald­son ... AA still rav­ing about Cal­gary’s Soroka ... White-knuckle time in ninth

Edmonton Sun - - SPORTS -

ST. LOUIS — There is noth­ing that gets Josh Don­ald­son more fired up than play­off base­ball, which is why mem­o­ries of home post-sea­son games at the Rogers Cen­tre are still vivid to the Braves third base­man.

Vivid es­pe­cially com­pared to what the Bringer of Rain felt he no­ticed here for Games 3 and 4 of the NLCS ver­sus the Car­di­nals. Don­ald­son wasn’t knock­ing the crowds at Busch Sta­dium, where they are known as one of the most avid base­ball towns in the big leagues. Rather, he’s just ap­pre­cia­tive of the bed­lam he ex­pe­ri­enced dur­ing his two play­off runs in Toronto.

“It’s noth­ing like it was in those games at the Dome,” Don­ald­son said. “The fans there were the best. I say it a lot and I mean it. They just got so into it and it was loud. I mean, crazy loud. Not like it was here.”

“Here” be­ing St. Louis where the at­mos­phere was solid enough in Game 2 on Sun­day, though the Braves had a hand in low­er­ing the vol­ume with their big come­back.

For Mon­day’s po­ten­tial clincher, the an­nounced crowd was 42,203, well short of the sell-out crowd of 46,701 the pre­vi­ous day. Sev­eral sec­tions in left field were mostly empty and the Ball­park Vil­lage ar­eas of bars and restau­rants had nowhere the life they did on Sun­day.

Per­haps that was to be ex­pected with a 2 p.m. (lo­cal) start, of course, and per­haps base­ball fans here are a touch spoiled given that the Car­di­nals are in the post-sea­son for the sev­enth time since 2009.

It cer­tainly got loud in the ninth and 10th in­nings, how­ever, as the Car­di­nals ral­lied to tie, then win on a walkoff to force Wed­nes­day’s de­ci­sive Game 5 back in At­lanta.

Like many big-time play­ers, mean­while, Don­ald­son tends to feed off the crowd, es­pe­cially at this time of year. He was one of the most vo­cal play­ers in the Braves dugout late in Sun­day’s big rally win and got the three­run come­back started with his lead­off dou­ble.

“He’s one of those guys who gets every­body fired up,” says Braves gen­eral man­ager Alex An­thopou­los, who cer­tainly saw a sim­i­lar in­flu­ence when the two were with the Jays. “It works es­pe­cially at this time of year. Josh is al­ways locked in.”

OH CANADA

An­thopou­los was still buzzing about the per­for­mance of Cana­dian rookie Mike Soroka, who all but shut down the Car­di­nals by al­low­ing just two hits in seven in­nings on Sun­day.

The win had so many im­pli­ca­tions for the Braves, start­ing with the breath­ing room it pro­vided with only need­ing to win one game to ad­vance to the NLCS and a likely date with the Los An­ge­les Dodgers.

“He was re­ally good and that was an im­por­tant start and an im­por­tant win for us,” An­thopou­los said.

Soroka be­came the sec­ondy­oungest pitcher in post­sea­son his­tory to go seven or more in­nings and al­low two or fewer hits in a game. And the only one younger is well back in the his­tory books — New York Yan­kee Waite Hoyte in the 1921 World Se­ries.

An­thopou­los was also en­thused with for­mer Jays catcher Rus­sell Martin’s big two-run homer for the Dodgers on Sun­day night in Wash­ing­ton.

“It was a big day for Cana­dian base­ball all around,” the Mon­treal na­tive said. “Good for him. He can still con­trib­ute.”

ELIM­I­NA­TION MON­DAY?

Yes, it’s only the first round, but start­ing at 1 p.m. and likely stretch­ing past mid­night on Mon­day, base­ball fans had the op­por­tu­nity to see four po­ten­tial elim­i­na­tion games back-to-back-to-back-to-back.

The teams fac­ing the prospect of get­ting bounced clearly had other ideas, how­ever.

It started with the Rays blow­ing out the Astros 10-3 to force a Game 4 at the Trop, fol­lowed by the Braves fall­ing to the Cards.

In later games, the Na­tion­als were look­ing to stay alive against the Dodgers while the Twins were bid­ding to do the same ver­sus the Yan­kees.

CLOS­ING TIME

There were cer­tainly some ner­vous on­look­ers

at Busch Sta­dium when Car­los Martinez came on to pitch the ninth on Mon­day and es­pe­cially af­ter he al­lowed a lead­off dou­ble to Ron­ald Acuna Jr.

Martinez, who blew a save and took the loss a day ear­lier, was cer­tainly on the hot seat.

“The one thing I sin­cerely ap­pre­ci­ate about Car­los is his com­pet­i­tive spirit,” Cards man­ager Mike Shildt said. “And you just know he’s got the verve to han­dle those type of sit­u­a­tions.

“I did want to make sure his head was in the right space that he was prop­erly go­ing to fo­cus on ex­e­cut­ing his pitches. We spoke this morn­ing and it was a beau­ti­ful re­sponse.”

FIVE ALIVE

Wed­nes­day’s de­cid­ing game in the se­ries will be a pitch­ing re­match of Game 2 back in At­lanta, a 3-0 Braves win.

The hosts will go to righthande­r Mike Foltynewic­z, while the Cards will counter with Jack Fla­herty.

If there’s an edge on that matchup, it likely goes to the Cards, who view Fla­herty as their ace.

“It’s pretty clear I look for­ward to it,” St. Louis man­ager Mike Shildt said.

It’s noth­ing like it was in those games at the Dome. The fans there were the best. I say it a lot and I mean it. They just got so into it and it was loud. I mean, crazy loud. Not like it was (in St. Louis). braves’ Josh Don­ald­son com­pares the play­off at­mos­phere in Toronto and st. Louis

USA TO­DAY SPORTS

Braves third base­man Josh Don­ald­son tries in vain to break up a dou­ble play as Car­di­nals sec­ond base­man Kolten Wong throws to first dur­ing yes­ter­day’s Game 4 of the NLDS at Busch Sta­dium.

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