Spencer Strider, Braves offense steamroll Cardinals for fourth straight victory

Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Spencer Strider (65) throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday, Aug. 26, 2022, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Joe Puetz)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Spencer Strider (65) throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday, Aug. 26, 2022, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Joe Puetz)

ST. LOUIS – With Friday’s 11-4 win over St. Louis, the Braves have won a season-high 10 straight road games. They are 79-48 and have a four-game winning streak.

Here are five observations:

1. At Busch Stadium, with an announced attendance of 46,027, the Braves took the field against another National League contender. The Braves already know they are good – as does the rest of baseball – but these games are intriguing tests.

If they want to repeat as World Series champions, these are the games the Braves will have to win in October. Yes, contests against the Pirates and Reds and Nationals and Marlins count the same in the standings, but contests versus contenders provide an idea of where a team stands.

If you did not already know this, the Braves are for real. Two games remain here, but Atlanta has continued playing good baseball and proving it is a major force.

On Friday, the Braves used a big inning to back another quality start from Spencer Strider. They added more runs after he departed. They put together yet another complete performance.

And they did everything without hitting a homer.

“Good,” manager Brian Snitker said. “That’s really encouraging that we can bunch some hits together and score some runs without using the long ball.”

Atlanta Braves' William Contreras (24) hits a three-run double in the sixth inning of a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday, Aug. 26, 2022, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Joe Puetz)

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2. William Contreras stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded in the sixth inning. The Braves led by a run, but the game was far from over. This felt like one of those situations the Braves would have regretted had they not capitalized.

Contreras made sure they did not have to think that far.

Facing right-hander Andre Pallante, who entered the game during that inning, Contreras put a smooth swing on a ball and hit an opposite-field, bases-clearing double. It extended the lead from one to four runs, a big advantage with the way Strider was pitching.

“Just try not to do too much, you know?” Contreras said through interpreter Franco García. “My mentality was just to stay calm during that at-bat and put the ball in play, and fortunately I was able to hit that liner double and get all those runs in. That’s just not so much from that at-bat, but I think it’s just the result of all the hard work that you put in before, and thank God you see it out there.”

Contreras eventually notched the first four-hit game of his career.

Atlanta scored three runs in the eighth and three more in the ninth to turn this into a laugher.

Atlanta Braves' Matt Olson (28) is congratulated by teammates after scoring a run in the fourth inning of a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday, Aug. 26, 2022, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Joe Puetz)

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3. Earlier in the season, Strider pitched out of the bullpen. The Braves always saw him as a starter but, in that time before he entered the rotation, he picked up something that still helps him deal with having traffic on the bases.

“I feel like I can sort of just go back to that mindset of, ‘it doesn’t matter,’” Strider said. “I sort of put the rest of the game on hold for a minute and just try to get the guy out that I’m facing. Worked on my mechanics to solidify the stretch, so I feel pretty comfortable there. Sometimes you need those little moments to just kick you back into gear, too.”

Strider threw six innings of one-run baseball. His line could have looked worse, which is a testament to his determination and poise.

In the bottom of the sixth, after the Braves extended their lead to four runs, the Cardinals put runners on first and second base against Strider with no outs. He escaped unscathed.

In the third inning, St. Louis had runners on the corners with no outs. The Cardinals hoped to jump out to a big lead, but Strider held them to a run – and that runner scored on a double-play ball that killed a rally.

4. Jackson Stephens suffered a scary injury when Brendan Donovan’s 90.4-mph line drive hit him on the head in the ninth inning. It left Stephens with a big knot.

Snitker said Stephens would need to go to a hospital for further testing.

“That’s like the .01 percent of plays that really scares you in baseball,” Strider said. “He’s a tough, hard-headed guy. He wore it pretty well and I think he’s going to be all right. And walked right off like a champ.”

5. One of the best things about baseball is that you never know what you’ll see when you show up to the ballpark.

Here is something you don’t see every day: Austin Riley on Friday drew a walk in three consecutive innings. He did it in the sixth, seventh and eighth.

Stat to know

11 - After the Cardinals scored first, the Braves hung 11 unanswered runs on St. Louis before the Cardinals scored in the ninth.

Quotable

“It’s always scary when you see somebody get hit in the head, the face. That’s probably one of the most sickening things you can witness in a game.” - Snitker on Stephens

Up next

Atlanta’s Charlie Morton faces Cardinals left-hander Jordan Montgomery on Saturday at 7:15 p.m. ET.

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