WORST. FIRST. EVER.

Braves aw­ful at most in­op­por­tune time, al­low­ing record 10 open­ing-frame runs in Game 5 beat­down

Edmonton Sun - - SPORTS - Rob LONGLEY rlon­g­[email protected]­media.com @lon­g­ley­sun­sport

AT­LANTA — The wrong side of base­ball his­tory is a pro­foundly dispir­it­ing place to be, es­pe­cially when there are still eight and a half in­nings left to play.

But that’s where the Braves found them­selves on Wed­nes­day evening in one of the most lop­sided se­ries clinch­ers in the long and sto­ried chap­ters of the sport. Bum­mer for the home team. Bum­mer for a star-crossed sports city. And a bum­mer for a Suntrust Park sell­out crowd of 43,122 ex­pect­ing some le­git Game 5 drama.

The vis­it­ing St. Louis Cardinals took out that crowd, two Braves pitch­ers and whatever else was in their way in a calami­tous 10-run first in­ning on the way to a cruise-control 13-1 win.

It was as swift as it was stun­ning, given how close the se­ries had been through the first four games, no more so than to start­ing pitcher and the main car-crash vic­tim, Mike Foltynewic­z.

“You no­tice how fast it went, not even get­ting out of the first in­ning,” Foltynewic­z said. “It’s tough. It’s very em­bar­rass­ing. Es­pe­cially on a stage like this and to let peo­ple down.”

With Folty fold­ing — and hav­ing plenty of com­pany around him — the up­start Cards won the fi­nal two games of the best-of-five to take it by a 3-2 count. The Braves, mean­while, lost a post-season se­ries for an Mlb-record equalling 10th con­sec­u­tive time.

And that was just the start of the his­toric car­nage await­ing the 2019 NL East cham­pi­ons.

The Cardinals sent 14 bat­ters to the plate and scored 10 runs — TEN — the most ever in the first-in­ning of a post-season game. Foltynewic­z couldn’t throw strikes and couldn’t get outs, get­ting the hook af­ter al­low­ing seven of the first eight St. Louis hit­ters to reach.

The only out the would-be ace of the staff man­aged was via a sac­ri­fice bunt. Ugh.

“I haven’t been a part of quite some­thing like that,” said for­mer Jays third base­man Josh Don­ald­son, who pro­vided the Braves’ only run, a solo homer in the fourth. “All season we played bet­ter than that. I had high ex­pec­ta­tions for our team.

“This or­ga­ni­za­tion has a bright fu­ture ahead of it. I’m glad I got to be part of it. You have a sour taste in your mouth right now but if you look at the over­all season we had, it was plea­sure to be a part of it.”

By the end of the first it had be­come rather silly. Cardinals starter Jack Fla­herty drew a bases-loaded walk for an RBI and later scored a run, all be­fore he even threw a pitch.

It didn’t get much bet­ter for Max Fried, who re­lieved (sort of ) Foltynewic­z. Be­sides the walk to Fla­herty, he al­lowed back-to-back dou­bles to Dex­ter Fowler and Kolten Wong.

So how did this hap­pen? How did the Braves get dom­i­nated so thor­oughly in their home park?

On the eve of the de­cid­ing game, Braves GM Alex An­thopou­los spoke about the legacy of de­cid­ing games and the last­ing images they pro­vide. Of course the for­mer Jays GM has one of the best in his mem­ory bank, the 2015 Jose Bautista bat-flip af­fair back in Toronto.

And now he has one of the worst un­der his watch.

The Braves en­tered Game 5 with a 16-13 edge in runs through the first four. The 10-run first was a piece of work that will stand as one of the great de­ba­cles of the mod­ern game.

Of the 14 bat­ters that went to the plate, there were just five hits (in­clud­ing three dou­bles), four walks, an er­ror, a sac­ri­fice fly and a wild pitch. And yes, note the ab­sence — 10 runs were scored and not one via a home run.

It was also marred with the er­ror by Braves first base­man Fred­die Free­man, one that could have re­sulted in a dou­ble-play to min­i­mize the dam­age. In­stead, the mice al­lowed the bru­tal­ity to con­tinue.

“Ev­ery­one had sky-high con­fi­dence go­ing into that game and them scor­ing 10 runs, it was hard to swal­low,” said Free­man, who tried to place the blame on his own shoul­ders. “Ev­ery­thing went wrong.”

And it wasn’t just in the first, ei­ther.

The Cardinals reach­ing 13 by the third in­ning an­other record for the fastest that has hap­pened in any post-season MLB game.

“I don’t know,” Braves man­ager Brian Snitker said. “I don’t know that I’ve seen that many guys hit in the first in­ning that quick in my en­tire life. Your goal is to get in the play­offs be­cause any­thing can hap­pen af­ter that. I guess we saw that. Any­thing did hap­pen.”

For all their abil­ity to make it to the play­offs, Wed­nes­day’s hu­mil­i­a­tion will go down as yet an­other col­lapse for the Braves, who have made the play­offs 10 times since 2001 but can’t move on.

When they took a 2-1 se­ries lead af­ter Game 3 in St. Louis, odds were in their favour. But for the fourth time in their his­tory they’ve gone to the de­cid­ing game of a best-of-five and for the fourth time they’ve lost.

Full credit to the Cardinals, who have a chance to win their first NL ti­tle since 2013 and a fifth since 2004. St. Louis, home to the Stan­ley Cup cham­pion Blues, won their 11th World Se­ries ti­tle ear­lier this decade in 2011.

Un­der­stand­ably, there was bed­lam in the Cardinals dugout as the first in­ning un­folded. Try­ing to keep it calm was man­ager Mike Shildt.

“First of all, it was never enough runs, man,” Shildt said. “Just keep eat­ing boys, keep go­ing. Which we did.

“I love the fact that we added on af­ter that and the next cou­ple of in­nings as well. As far as that goes, this is a very present group, stay­ing right there.”

Present, ac­counted for and mov­ing on to the next round.

GETTY Images

Cardinals’ Har­ri­son Bader quenches his thirst dur­ing locker-room cel­e­bra­tions fol­low­ing St. Louis’ 13-1 win over the Braves in At­lanta last night to clinch the Na­tional League Divi­sion Se­ries. The Cards scored 10 runs in the open­ing in­ning.

DON­ALD­SON Fu­ture ‘bright’

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.