The St. Louis Cardinals effectively had the game sealed up after the first inning on Wednesday in what was a jaw-dropping, record-breaking showing. Against the Atlanta Braves in the deciding Game 5 of the NLDS, the Cardinals exploded to the tune of ten, yes ten, runs in the top of the first to give ace Jack Flaherty a massive advantage before he had even toed the rubber. The record total of runs came from all directions, too, though not a single home run was hit by them as they batted around and around. There were singles, doubles, players walked in for runs with the bases loaded, errors (one by Freddie Freeman in shocking fashion), and even one scored on a strikeout that wasn’t caught. It was a wild half inning that certainly silenced the old crowd- ever the old sports cliché. The Cardinals struck first and showed no mercy, and they would cruise to a 13-1 win in the end to move on to the NLCS, where they will be hosting the Washington Nationals. Who saw these results coming, and if so, did you in this way?
For the majority of players, it doesn’t get any bigger than playing in the postseason. To hit a home run in the playoffs is an even bigger opportunity. To do it in the clutch, and to make it a Grand Slam, that’s what dreams are made of. And that’s exactly what Howie Kendrick was able to accomplish and bring into Washington Nationals folklore on Wednesday night as he put his team up for good in the top of the tenth inning with a 7-3 lead that would hold after the bottom half. Once again, though, the journey to get there was just as important- and entertaining- as the ultimate destination. The Dodgers took a 3-0 lead after two frames, getting a solo shot from Max Muncy (you guessed it) and a two-run homer from Enrique Hernandez. They held that lead for a while, but the Nats started to come back in the sixth with a Juan Soto single plating one run. The heroics, though, came in the eighth as Anthony Rendon and Soto homered to make it 3-3. Eventually it forced the game into extra innings, in which Kendrick made sure he gave his team plenty of ammunition to keep them out in front for good by bringing in those names above, himself, and one other. Now, the Nationals will take on the St. Louis Cardinals in St. Louis on Thursday in Game 1 of the NLCS.