Mike Foltynewicz easily disposed of the Cardinals lineup across seven scoreless innings in Game 2 of the National League Division Seriues. The Braves need him to do it one more time.
Foltynewicz will start the winner-take-all Game 5 at SunTrust Park on Wednesday, an expected choice that the Braves confirmed after their 5-4 extra-inning loss in Game 4 on Monday. He’ll oppose Jack Flaherty, who allowed three runs over seven innings in Game 2.
“We’re really confident, especially with the way Folty looked last time,” third baseman Josh Donaldson said. “I feel like as a group we have a good team to make a run.”
“It’s going to come down to two right arms on Wednesday,” first baseman Freddie Freeman said. “Folty’s been amazing, Flaherty’s been amazing for about three months, so we’ll see if we can score a couple runs and give (Foltynewicz) the lead because I think that’s all it’s going to take.”
The team’s confidence won’t calm fans’ nerves after seeing the Braves offense go 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position, seeing the potential clincher slip away Monday.
Now, the team’s future falls on the arm of Foltynewicz, the 2018 All-Star who rose from the ashes after a dreadful start to the season. The man he’s facing, Flaherty, was even better over the second half, producing an MLB-best 0.91 ERA in that span.
In Game 2, the Braves got to Flaherty early when Donaldson knocked in Albies for a 1-0 lead. The Cardinals starter wasn’t struck again until his final frame, when Adam Duvall’s pinch-hit two-run homer put the Braves up 3-0 and helped them to their first win of the series.
“This kid is something special,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said of Flaherty after Game 2. “He's a horse. That's a number one guy right there. And you know what? He's a young guy. He's just going to get better. He gets bigger, stronger, he's not done. He's going to get better and be something else.”
Foltynewicz was even better in Game 2. He permitted just three hits, striking out seven and walking none over seven frames.
Wednesday will mark the fourth postseason start of his career. Game 2 was his first victorious outing, with the Braves losing his starts in Games 1 and 4 of the NLDS last season.
“These games are pretty big, but at the same time it's just the same game we've been playing all year,” Foltynewicz said after the game. “I said that the other day and that's kind of how I took it (in Game 2). But really made sure to slow things down, to stay in my mechanics and make sure all my pitches were working like they were tonight. And it was smooth sailing, so it was a lot of fun.”
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