Cardinals Take Game 1 of NLDS.

Josh Calloni, Reporter

Last night, the Cardinals took an early NLDS lead over the Braves in a nail biting game one.

The game started off quick as the Braves manufactured a run on a Kolten Wong misplay on what would of been an inning ending double play. That run would stand to be the only run allowed by Miles Mikolas, who went five innings, allowed three hits, and struck out two. He also walked two, and allowed the earned run that scored in the first. He, however, outlasted Braves starter, southpaw Dallas Keuchel, who went four and two thirds of an inning, and allowed a run of his own, which scored on a Dexter Fowler RBI groundout, which scored Harrison Bader. 

From there, scoring became more of a frequent occurrence. The Cardinals turned to left handed specialist Tyler Webb to get the heart of the Braves order out, each of which struggled against lefties all season. He got Freddie Freeman, but immediately hit Josh Donaldson in the arm, allowed a double to Nick Markakis, and intentionally walked Adam Duvall to load the bases and create a force at any base. Giovanny Gallegos would come in to that situation, and induce a ground ball from Dansby Swanson that would have ended the inning on a double play. Instead, it took a tricky hop on Tommy Edman, and Paul DeJong could not play it cleanly from there, and two Atlanta runs scored to make it a 3-1 game going into the seventh inning. In that seventh inning, scoring would hold at that, as Atlanta pitcher Shane Greene held the Cardinals, and John Brebbia did the same to the Braves.

The turning point of the game came in the eighth inning. Atlanta summoned right hander Chris Martin from their bullpen. Martin had been one of Atlanta’s best relievers since acquiring him in a bullpen that had not been all that good. However, Martin pulled an oblique on a warm up pitch, and could not continue, which brought in a lesser reliever, Luke Jackson, who had been struggling. On the second pitch he threw, Paul Goldschmidt hit a ball 446 feet into the second deck in left field of SunTrust Park, which made the score 3-2. Jackson would get the next to outs, but allowed back to back two out singles to DeJong and Wong. That spelled the end of Jacksons night, and Braves manager Brian Snitker turned to Mark Melancon, their closer. His first challenger was Matt Carpenter, who was pinch hitting for Bader. Carpenter lifted a flyball hugging the left field line against the shift that fell in right infront of Duvall and scored DeJong as the tying run, though Wong got thrown out trying to score. Ryan Helsley and Andrew Miller got the Braves in the eighth and sent the game tied into the ninth inning.

The Braves stuck with Melancon for that inning, and he got Randy Arozarena to groundout for the first out. Dexter Fowler followed that up with a two strike single to left field, and Tommy Edman moved him to third on a single of his own. Melancon then threw a four pitch walk to Goldschmidt, which loaded the bases with one out for Marcell Ozuna. Ozuna proceeded to take an 0-2 pitch down the left field line, just fair, passed a diving Donaldson. Fowler and Edman scored, and the Cardinals took a 5-3 lead. Melancon then loaded the bases again, by intentionally walking Yadier Molina, for Paul DeJong, who struck out. That left the bases juiced with two down for Wong. Wong took the first pitch he saw down the right field line, barely fair. Ozuna and Goldschmidt scored, and the game moved to the Braves half of the ninth, with a score of 7-3. 

Carlos Martinez got the ninth inning for St. Louis, and immediately walked pinch hitter Billy Hamilton. On the very next pitch, Martinez allowed a two run home run to Braves phenom Ronald Acuna Jr, who took his time rounding the bases, which Martinez took exception to. Martinez got the next batter, Ozzie Albies, to ground out to third, which brought up Freddie Freeman with one out in a 7-5 game. Freeman took a 2-2 pitch to deep center, and put the Braves within one with an out in the ninth. However, Martinez got the next two batters, Donaldson and Markakis on strikes, and the Cardinals closed out the game narrowly by a score of 7-6.

Game two of this NLDS series takes place today, at 3:37 local time. The Cardinals are sending ace Jack Flaherty to the mound for his postseason debut, and the Braves will counter with struggling right hander Mike Foltynewicz. The game will be aired on TBS.