The Cardinals bullied their way into the NLCS by pounding the Braves in the decisive Game 5 of the NLDS on Wednesday. Thanks in large measure to an unthinkable 10-run first inning — the most runs ever scored in the first inning of postseason game — the Cardinals cruised to a 13-1 victory (box score) and a spot in the NLCS against the Dodgers or Nationals.
In that record-setting first inning, the Cardinals tallied five hits, including three doubles, and four walks (one intentional). They also plated a run on dropped third strike (ruled a wild pitch). Atlanta starter Mike Foltynewicz, who shut out the Cardinals for seven innings in Game 2, was lifted after recording only one out.
On the other side, St. Louis ace Jack Flaherty, gifted a double-digit lead before he’d even thrown a pitch, worked six innings and allowed only one run while striking out eight and walking one. Somewhat surprisingly manager Mike Shildt left Flaherty in for 104 pitches despite the early lead. That said, Flaherty will be on full rest for NLCS Game 3 and can make another full-rest start in Game 7, should the series go that long.
That lone Braves run came on a Josh Donaldson solo home run in the fourth.
As the Cardinals get set to play for the pennant, the Braves after a 97-win regular season and a second straight division title are once again left facing the reality that they haven’t won a postseason series since 2001.
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