The Atlanta Braves evened up the Nationals League Division Series (NLDS) against the St Louis Cardinals after a 3-0 win in Game 2 on Friday.
Jack Flaherty was very good for the Cardinals, but Mike Foltynewicz was even better for Atlanta.
The two teams will now head to St Louis for Game 3 on Sunday.
Three takeaways from Braves' series-tying Game 2 win over Cardinals
Sometimes a demotion is a good thing
When Foltynewicz was demoted in June after posting a 6.37 ERA through 11 starts, he was candid with reporters.
"I've got a 7 ERA on a first-place team," Foltynewicz said then. "It's just tough. I'm battling every night. It's just tough. It's just the person I am. I'm going to wear that stuff on my sleeve, especially when things aren't going my way. It's just tough. It's all my fault, too."
For a pitcher who was an All-Star in 2018 it was a seemingly tough moment, but he took it in stride and came back to be one of the Braves' best pitchers down the stretch.
Foltynewicz posted a 1.50 ERA in five September starts and then built on his performance with a stellar start in Game 2 on Friday as he went seven innings while allowing three hits and no runs while striking out seven and walking none. One day after the Braves used eight pitchers and lost one (Chris Martin) for the NLDS due to injury, Atlanta needed a start like this.
All it takes is one inning
Legendary manager Earl Weaver once said that many times the winning team will score more runs in one inning than the losing team do in the entire game. It is exactly what happened to the Cardinals on Friday, but simply on a small scale as Weaver was referring to the mythical "big inning" rather than what happened to the Cardinals.
Flaherty was nervous in his first career postseason start. He came out and struggled to find his arm slot for his fastball and saw a few two-seamers dip out of the zone which put him in some bad counts. As a result, after Ozzie Albies reached on an infield single, the second baseman advanced a base on a wild pitch and came around to score later on a Josh Donaldson single.
Flaherty put the Cardinals in a 1-0 hole they would never dig out of. And while the Braves would get to Flaherty for a few more runs in the seventh inning, that one inning got St Louis off to a start they never recovered from.
In the postseason a pitcher has to be on his game from the very beginning, Flaherty simply was not in Game 2.
The legend of Adam Duvall is growing
Speaking of players who were in the minors for the Braves this year, Adam Duvall actually started the season in Triple-A for Atlanta. He was then called up in the middle of the year and put up respectable numbers down the stretch.
He was then a somewhat surprising addition to the playoff roster, though with Ender Inciarte's injury, maybe it was not all that surprising. And Duvall made his addition worth it in Game 1 with a wonderful throw to the plate to nab the go-ahead run on a game-tying double in the eighth inning.
He would also add a single in the game in his lone at-bat, but his hitting prowess has not stopped there for the series. Duvall pinch hit for Foltynewicz in Game 2, which at the time could have been seen as a bit of a questionable decision by manager Brian Snitker.
Foltynewicz was only at 81 pitches for the game and with 7-8-9 due up in the order and seven shut-out innings under his belt, taking out the righty was a bold move by Snitker. But Duvall made it worth it as he smacked a two-run home run to center to blow what was a very close game wide open.
Two outs, two strikes, two-run HR. pic.twitter.com/VdUSaMQFVa— MLB (@MLB) October 4, 2019
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