ATLANTA — The first MLB team to reach 90 wins, the Braves made most of the season by leading all of baseball with a .275 average, 263 home runs and 768 RBIs heading into Wednesday’s game.
The Cardinals got an early sneak peek at what was to come this season from the Braves, as they were swept by Atlanta at Busch Stadium in a three-game series from April 3-5. Not only did the Braves outrebound the Redbirds, 17-7, in that series, they hit six home runs to send the Cardinals reeling.
Now, six months later, with the Braves on pace to maintain baseball’s best record and the National League’s highest postseason seed and the Cardinals on their first 90-loss season since 1978, St. Louis has incredibly flipped the script on Atlanta.
A night after winning and pitching 10 runs, shelling out 12 hits and four home runs against Atlanta, the Cardinals struck out NL Cy Young Award candidate Spencer Strider for six early runs and hit four home runs throughout their 11-6 victory over the homer-happy Braves at Truist Park.
“Their offense is probably the best in the league and probably the best we’ve seen in years or decades, or even longer than that,” said Paul Goldschmidt, who hit two home runs on seven runs in the game against Strider. “As a fan of the game, it’s really impressive what they do [Braves] men do. Fortunately, we were able to do some similar things on offense.
“[Cardinals pitchers] You limit the damage because that’s all you can hope to do against these [Braves] youths. They will score some runs, but we haven’t given them free passes, extra hits or extra baserunners, and that has led to two wins. Hopefully we can do it again tomorrow.”
The Cardinals have scored more than 10 runs in consecutive games for the first time since Sept. 12-13, 2019, at Colorado and at home against the Brewers. The fact that St. Louis did so on Wednesday against Strider — who was seeking to become his first game-winner in 17 games — made the feat even more impressive.
“This is a really good club on the other side and even when you have a five-game lead, you don’t feel good about it and you need to keep adding and responding because you know they’re coming,” the Cards manager said. Oliver Marmol said. “I feel like our guys had a really good approach from the start against their starter. From one through nine, we did a really good job.”
Once ahead 6-0 and 7-2 after rookie Masyn Winn’s first MLB home run, the Cardinals saw their worst nightmares come true in the sixth inning after the Braves got the score back, 7-5, with NL MVP candidate Ronald Acuña Jr. at the plate. However, reliever Casey Lawrence continued to show grit and throw strikes that impressed the Cards and pushed Acuña into a double play at the end of the inning.
“I mean I just want to keep the ball on the floor and give our defense a chance,” Lawrence said. “We are very good in all areas [defensively] On the pitch, I knew my chances would be very high if I could keep him on the ground. One squeaked through [on a hit by Michael Harris II]And I wasn’t happy about it, but I was able to bounce back and get it [an out] Opposite Acuña.”
As they have done the past two nights, the Cardinals responded to each Braves huddle with long balls of their own. Wilson Contreras smashed his 17th home run in the seventh inning, and left-hander Nolan Gorman swooped in on an 0-2 slider up the middle of the plate for his 27th home run. Gorman has single-handedly led the team in home runs with his three hits the past two nights.
“That was a really big hit [by Gorman] “You get this insurance for a lot of reasons,” Marmol said. “Up and down the lineup, I thought we responded very well and very little.”
The Cardinals came into Wednesday having scored 305 of their 625 runs (48.8 percent) on home runs. To put that into perspective, the Braves hit 424-of-795 (53.3 percent) on long balls. On Wednesday, the Redbirds pushed seven of their 11 runs past the home side and gave the Braves a taste of their own medicine.
“It’s pretty amazing what our offense is doing,” said Wynn, who earned a postgame trip to the bathroom where juices and condiments were poured on him to celebrate his first MLB homer. “Personally, I was struggling, and in general, we were struggling. But these last two games got hot. To make a run like we did was great for us.”
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