The Braves are fighting for their lives here. They are desperate for the postseason series win that has alluded them since 2001, and it’s not looking much better after blowing Games 1 and 4. Luckily, they have Game 5 at Suntrust Park with Mike Foltynewicz on the mound. The Cardinals are notoriously pesky in elimination games (especially on the road against Atlanta), and this will be no easy task. Here is how Atlanta can get it done.
Folty has to be the Folty we saw in Game 2
This is the biggest one for me. Jack Flaherty is on the mound again for St. Louis, and we’ve already covered how historically dominant he’s been in the 2nd half of 2019. Atlanta is only scrounging up an average of four runs per game, and most of those came in garbage time of Game 1. Flaherty will be bringing his A-Game; we can’t expect three runs off of him again. This brings me to my next key…
The Middle of the Lineup has to wake up
This is a given. Look at these lines
Freeman: .125/.222/.535, 2 H, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 5 K
Donaldson: .133/.278/.478 2 H, 1 2B, 0 HR, 2 RBI, 3 K
Markakis: .176/.222/.545, 3 H, 1 2B, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 4 K
These guys are all striking out more than they’re getting on base. It is almost insane Atlanta has even made this a series with the middle of their order struggling like this. The Braves left the bases loaded twice Sunday, and these guys (plus Ozzie who had a home run in that game) all failed to drive anyone in. Freddie Freeman says he’s not hurt, but I’m not buying it. I think he just doesn’t want to make excuses. Somebody has to step up and make a play, and our best players are absolutely killing us right now.
Ronald Acuña has to be Ronald Acuña
The kid has done it all series. Outside of his Grand Slam, last season’s postseason debut was less than inspiring for Ronald. He’s silenced any doubters this series.
.500/.579/1.579(!!!!!), 3 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 3 BB
Ronald’s OPS is through the sky, and even though he’s been dominant, he’s only scored ONE. MEASLY. RUN. He has 16 total bases for the series and has put himself into scoring position three times, but we’ll get to that later. He’s dominated Carlos Martinez and carried this entire lineup so far along with Dansby and some timely pinch hits by Duvall. Ozzie Albies has shown up, and everyone else in this lineup is on a milk carton. If he goes off again, someone has to pick him up. No questions asked.
Snit has to manage his best game this season
This is an underrated aspect. Snitker has been meh this series. There have been times where he has had too quick of a hook. And if Folty is still humming along with a lead in the 7th at a decent pitch count, like he was in Game 2, he cannot be taken out in Game 5. Don’t outsmart yourself Snitker; you’ve made some quality decisions with Adam Duvall (3-7, HR, 5 RBI). However, you can’t depend on pinch hitters bailing the team out every game. Put your best foot forward and trust the arms that find a groove.
HIT THE BALL WITH RUNNERS IN SCORING POSITION
Time and time again. Absolute nonsense.
Game 1: 1-11
Game 2: 1-5
Game 3: 2-9
Game 4: ZERO FOR NINE
How do you have 34+ men on 2nd and 3rd and only manage four hits throughout the series? For you math wizards out there, that’s a .117 average, and now I have PTSD from seeing B.J. Upton numbers. What is going on? Some of the hits with RISP have been timely, yes, but we can’t survive on luck tomorrow. Atlanta has to take advantage of when they are set up for success. Jack Flaherty isn’t going to do us any favors.
So what’s it going to be, Braves? Are we going to crumble in typical Atlanta fashion, or are we going to go out tomorrow, grab this game by the horns and WIN A PLAYOFF SERIES? It’s been too damn long. Washington has a chance to knock LA out of the playoffs tomorrow as well. Do we want our best chance for a World Series since the ’90s, or are we going to fold like a lawn chair? We’ll find out on Wednesday at 5:02 in Smyrna, Georgia.