To win Game 5 of the NLDS, the Cardinals needed to perform better against Braves start Mike Foltynewicz than they did in Game 2.
Cardinals hitters more than followed through on the aforementioned key to the game.
After failing to muster a single run in seven innings against Foltynewicz the last time they faced him, the Cardinals blasted the Atlanta starter Wednesday to pace a blowout victory for the Cardinals, 13-1.
St. Louis pounded Foltynewicz for seven runs, six of them earned, before he was promptly removed from the action after recording just a single out. 14 Cardinals came to the plate in the first inning that ultimately saw St. Louis leap out to a 10-0 lead before the Braves ever came to bat.
The Cardinals will now face the winner of Wednesday night's game between the Dodgers and Nationals in the NLCS beginning Friday. If the Dodgers win, the Cardinals will open the series on the road in Los Angeles for Games 1 and 2. If they play the Nationals, the NLCS will open in St. Louis for the first two games, before heading to Washington D.C. for Games 3, 4 and 5.
St. Louis' advancement to the NLCS marks their 10th time since 2000. Over that stretch, once the Cardinals reach the NLDS, they've hardly ever lost in that round. The Cardinals are a remarkable 10-3 in the NLDS going back to the beginning of the century.
The Cardinals' 10 runs in the first frame Wednesday set a new postseason record for first-inning scoring, obliterating the previous mark of seven runs set by the Brewers in Game 2 of the 1958 World Series. St. Louis also tied the record for most postseason runs in any inning, matching multiple outputs from over the years, one of which dated back to the 1929 World Series.
In other words, it was an inning for the history books.
Incredibly, the Cardinals weren't done there. After its starting lineup entered Game 5 featuring only three batting averages above .200 for the postseason, St. Louis scored runs in each of its first three innings Wednesday to jump out to a commanding 13-0 lead over the Braves.
Every Cardinals starter scored a run in the game, including Matt Carpenter, who exited the action before the Cardinals ever took the field. After his walk in the first inning, he was replaced in the lineup for defensive purposes by Harrison Bader, who then picked up a hit and RBI of his own.
It's a pretty jaw-dropping outcome considering the Cardinals offensive struggles with Flaherty on the mound. After coming up short in the run support department numerous times during Flaherty's historic second half, St. Louis put up a goose egg in Game 2 when Flaherty last faced Foltynewicz.
Apparently the offense has been saving up all its run support to be used on Wednesday.
After the kind of run support he's gotten all throughout his marvelous second half, here's Jack Flaherty realizing they were saving all of their runs for this day.I have to think he's probably fine with it. pic.twitter.com/Rd4xY3aQ4s— Brenden Schaeffer (@bschaeffer12) October 9, 2019
Flaherty a home run to Josh Donaldson in the fourth, but was otherwise his typical sturdy self. He compiled eight strikeouts in six strong innings.
Rarely is there the game that is comfortable in-hand from the very beginning, but that's what the Cardinals enjoyed Wednesday. The only tense moments for St. Louis came after Jack Flaherty hit Ronald Acuna Jr. with a pitch in the fifth. Though the Cardinals held a huge lead, Mike Shildt stuck with Flaherty to complete the inning. With the bases loaded, Flaherty got Freddie Freeman to ground out to end the inning, as well the the lone Braves threat of the day.
Shildt was ready to remove Flaherty from the game at that point, but the young hurler told him he had one more inning in him. Flaherty pitched a clean six to cap another fine outing, before letting the bullpen handle the rest.