The Atlanta Braves produced a dramatic late rally to edge the St Louis Cardinals 3-1 and take a 2-1 lead in the National League Division Series (NLDS) on Sunday.
Mike Soroka and veteran Adam Wainwright engaged in a pitcher's duel but ultimately the Braves came back to win after a late, and very impressive, rally with their backs against the wall.
The 22-year-old rookie Soroka impressed in his postseason debut and was virtually unhittable to help push the Braves ahead.
Three takeaways from Braves' late comeback
First, the rookie
While the Braves' offense was certainly impressive late, especially considering the blown lead in Game 1 of the NLDS, Soroka was the star of the show early.
It was a tall task for a first-year pitcher but Soroka took it in stride. He pitched a solid seven innings, allowing just one run on two hits while striking out seven and walking none.
The extra rest Atlanta gave him seemed to have worked. Soroka brought his great outings from the regular season into the playoffs and if the Braves move on, he will likely be a difference maker going forward.
Wainwright once again steps up in the postseason
Wainwright is no stranger to the postseason. He made his 13th career playoff start and 25th postseason appearance on Sunday. His experience helped St Louis skate through most of Game 3 with a narrow lead.
His career stats, ERA, WHIP, are all better in the postseason than his regular-season numbers. It breaks down to a 3.03 ERA in the postseason compared to a 3.39 career ERA in the regular season and a 1.09 WHIP in the postseason versus 1.23 in the regular season.
That postseason mastery continued on Sunday, as Wainwright pitched 7.2 shut-out innings, striking out eight and giving up only four hits to a powerful Atlanta offense.
Wainwright was eventually pulled in the eighth after 120 pitches. His exit came after two consecutive walks, his only walks on the day, and to a standing ovation from a happy St Louis crowd. Wainwright, and those fans, deserved a better fate in the end.
The Braves capitalise on their final opportunity
After being shut down all game by Wainwright, the Braves made Cardinals closer Carlos Martinez pay for their frustration.
The Braves roughed up Martinez, with three hits and two walks fuelling a three-run rally, all of them coming with two outs.
After an intentional walk to Brian McCann, Dansby Swanson seemed to take that free pass personally, and drove in the tying run with a clutch double to left.
Adam Duvall then singled home Swanson and pinch-runner Rafael Ortega for the final margin.
The Braves looked overmatched at the plate most of the game, but they kept fighting and they now lead the NLDS 2-1 as a result.
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