EditorsNote: adds quotes, information throughout
Mike Foltynewicz was banished to Triple-A Gwinnett for six weeks earlier this season. On Friday, he continued his path to redemption by pitching seven shutout innings to help the Atlanta Braves beat the visiting St. Louis Cardinals 3-0 and even the National League Division Series at one game apiece.
Foltynewicz (1-0) allowed three hits and no walks while striking out seven in earning his first postseason career win. The last Atlanta pitcher to throw seven or more scoreless innings in a postseason contest was Tom Glavine in Game 2 of the 2001 NLDS against the Houston Astros.
The right-handler effectively mixed his slider with his fastball and consistently found the plate. Foltynewicz threw 81 pitches, 58 for strikes.
“It’s pretty cool to see for a guy that went through what he’s went through this year and where he’s come back from and the rough start that he had. And to see him step up like that is something really special,” said Braves manager Brian Snitker of Foltynewicz.
Foltynewicz outdueled St. Louis ace Jack Flaherty, the National League Pitcher of the Month for August and September. Flaherty (0-1) allowed three runs on eight hits and one walk with eight strikeouts over seven innings. He threw 117 pitches on a 95-degree day at SunTrust Park and was visibly upset in the dugout when lifted for a pinch hitter.
“Gotta give the guy credit. The guy was around the plate a lot,” said Cardinals manager Mike Shildt regarding Foltynewicz. “And he was around the edges of the plate and he was on and under the plate. Us not having the walks was really as much as how well he threw the ball as much as us being impatient.”
One of the hits off Flaherty was a two-out, two-run homer by pinch hitter Adam Duvall in the seventh inning. Duvall became the first Atlanta player to hit a pinch-hit home run in the postseason since Eric Hinske in the 2010 NLDS against the San Francisco Giants.
“I couldn’t be happier for any one individual,” said Snitker of Duvall’s homer. “He’s kind of right in that same light with Folty. How Folty went back this year and got himself going.”
The Atlanta bullpen got one inning of shutout relief for the second straight game from Max Fried, who struck out two. Mark Melancon, the losing pitcher in Game 1, allowed two singles with one out in the ninth but struck out Yadier Molina and Kolten Wong to end the game and earn the save.
The Braves jumped on Flaherty for a run in the first inning. Ozzie Albies singled with one out, advanced to second on a wild pitch and to third on a groundout, then scored on Josh Donaldson’s sharp single.
“I thought he took a while to settle down,” said Shildt regarding Flaherty. “They scratched one in the first, and then you could see him hit his stride about the second, going into the third. And then he looked like Jack. Complete control.”
Atlanta wasted a chance in the fourth inning. The Braves had runners on first and third with no outs and failed to score.
The series resumes on Sunday in St. Louis. Atlanta rookie Mike Soroka (13-4, 2.68 ERA) will make his postseason debut against St. Louis veteran Adam Wainwright (14-10, 4.19).
—Field Level Media