Braves starters Mike Soroka and Mike Foltynewicz posted possibly the two best outings of their respective careers in Games 3 and 4 against the Cardinals in the National League Division Series. What the starts had in common: No walks. Foltynewicz and Soroka each struck out seven without issuing a free pass.
They combined to allow five hits and one run across 14 innings. That single run was all the Cardinals offense has earned since a four-run explosion in the ninth inning of Game 1.
“I didn’t realize that, quite honestly,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said of his starters’ zero walks. “In these games, where runs are at a premium, it's huge and paramount, I think, that you don’t walk a lot of guys. And I’ve been very pleased with all of our pitching, even in the first game. I mean, it was kind of a victim of circumstance a little bit in that ball game. But it’s been, in these types of games that are just so tightly contested and all, that you’re not giving free passes is huge.”
• On the subject of starting pitching, Ozzie Albies went immediately to the rotation when asked about the difference in confidence between this year and last.
The team’s starters last NLDS: Foltynewicz, Anibal Sanchez, Sean Newcomb and Foltynewicz again. This NLDS: Keuchel, Foltynewicz, Soroka, Keuchel again and, if necessary, Foltynewicz again.
“Really confident because we know our starting pitchers are better,” Albies said. “And if they can give us seven, eight innings, like Folty did the other day, we have a huge way of winning the ball game. And that’s what we need. We get that, we’ll play anybody, we’ll secure the win.”
• Cardinals manager Mike Shildt sounded concerned about his closer Carlos Martinez’s state of mind. Martinez was hit for three runs in Game 1, with Ronald Acuna celebrating a two-run blast drawing ire. Martinez came in again in Game 3, blowing the save and allowing three runs to lose, 3-1. He walked Acuna in the inning.
“I just want to make sure Carlos' head is in the right place, make sure he's in the right frame of mind,” Shildt said. “I'm not worried about Carlos' stuff. It's about his execution, making sure he's making the quality pitches and his head is in a present state of mind.”
• Under Snitker, the Braves have often struck late. It’s been no different in the postseason, with the Braves scoring eight of their 12 runs in the seventh inning or later. The Braves led the majors with 308 runs across those innings this season.
• The Braves are trying to avoid infamous MLB history. They’ve lost nine consecutive playoff series, one shy of tying the Cubs’ record, when Chicago lost 10 straight rounds from 1910 through 1998. This could be their first time advancing in the postseason since they swept Houston in the 2001 NLDS.
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