ATLANTA - The Mike Foltynewicz who held the St. Louis Cardinals to three hits and no walks over seven scoreless innings in Game 2 was nowhere to be found in Game 5.
The Braves fell 13-1 against the Cardinals Wednesday night in the final game of the NLDS at SunTrust Park.
Foltynewicz, the Braves’ best pitcher for the past month, lasted only 23 pitches and recorded only one out in the deciding game of the NL Division Series on Wednesday at SunTrust Park. And that lone out was by the Cardinals’ design, coming on a sacrifice bunt by the second batter of the game.
Unthinkably, Foltynewicz’s day was done after 1/3 of an inning. He allowed three hits and three walks (one intentional) and was charged with seven runs (six earned). That’s more runs than were scored against Foltynewicz in the entire month of September, when he allowed five in 30 innings across five starts.
Foltynewicz walked Dexter Fowler to open the game, and the Cardinals, seemingly anticipating a low-scoring finale of the series, had Kolten Wong bunt him to second. Then Paul Goldschmidt reached on an infield single, and Marcell Ozuna singled to right to score Fowler for a 1-0 Cardinals lead.
The first-inning damage would have ended there – and Foltynewicz at least would have made it to the second inning -- if Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman hadn’t booted a potential double-play ground ball hit by Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina. But the error loaded the bases, still with just one out, and Foltynewicz’s day completely unraveled from there.
A walk to Matt Carpenter scored Goldschmidt. A double to right by Tommy Edman scored Ozuna and Molina to stretch the Cardinals’ lead to 4-0. An intentional walk to Paul DeJong ended Foltynewicz’s day. Reliever Max Fried entered with the bases loaded, and all three runners he inherited scored to further tarnish Foltynewicz’s line.
By the end of the top of the first inning, the Cardinals had sent 14 batters to the plate and led 10-0 – an unfathomable development even in the context of the Braves’ erratic postseason history. It was the most runs scored by a team in the first inning of any postseason game and tied the record for the most by a team in any inning of any postseason game in MLB history.
Even during his early-season struggles, which resulted in a June demotion to the minor leagues, Foltynewicz didn’t last fewer than four innings in any start.
His worst start, compounded by Freeman’s error, came five days after his best. Just last Friday, in NLDS Game 2, Foltynewicz became the first Braves starter to pitch seven or more scoreless innings in a postseason game since Hall of Famer Tom Glavine in 2001.
Foltynewicz’s ERA for the series, which was 0.00 at the start of Game 5, had soared to 7.36 by the middle of the first inning Wednesday. And Game 2 seemed a very long time ago.
Tim Tucker with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution contributed to this article.