CUMBERLAND, Ga. – Paul Goldschmidt rediscovered his home-run swing in the last week of the season and flexed his muscles once again in the opener of the National League Division Series against the Atlanta Braves. Goldschmidt aims to continue his power display on Friday afternoon as the St. Louis Cardinals face the Braves in Game 2 of the best-of-5 set at SunTrust Park.
TV: 4:37 p.m. ET, TBS
Goldschmidt belted a 446-foot homer in the eighth inning to cap a multi-hit performance in St. Louis' 7-6 victory over Atlanta on Thursday, marking the fifth time that he has gone deep in nine career playoff games. The 33-year-old has feasted on the Braves' pitching in 2019 to the tune of going 9-for-23, although he is just 4-for-21 with 10 strikeouts in his career versus Friday starter Mike Foltynewicz. All-Star Ronald Acuna Jr. apparently didn't learn his lesson after being benched for a lack of hustle during what he thought was a home-run ball on Aug. 18, as he once again was slow out of the box in what resulted in a long single in the seventh inning on Thursday. "It is frustrating," first baseman Freddie Freeman said. "I think you have that conversation once. Kinda beat a dead horse if you keep having that same conversation over and over again. That can't happen in the playoffs, can't happen in the regular season."
Cardinals RH Jack Flaherty (11-8, 2.75 ERA) vs. Braves RH Mike Foltynewicz (8-6, 4.54)
Flaherty enters the playoffs with back-to-back scoreless outings and a sizzling 7-2 record and 0.91 ERA in his last 15 starts, helping him capture NL Pitcher of the Month honors for both August and September. The 23-year-old surrendered just three hits and struck out 17 batters over his last 14 innings in a no-decision at Arizona on Sept. 24 before blanking the Chicago Cubs five days later. Flaherty overcame five walks in six innings to pick up the win against Atlanta on May 14 before scattering three hits over six scoreless frames in a no-decision 12 days later.
Like Flaherty, Foltynewicz finished the regular season with a flourish by posting a 6-0 record over a nine-start stretch before surrendering two homers in four innings of a 3-0 setback at the New York Mets on Saturday. The 27-year-old was on opposite ends of the spectrum in his two starts against St. Louis, serving up three homers and eight runs total on May 14 before allowing one unearned run in six innings of a 5-2 win 10 days later. Marcell Ozuna has taken Foltynewicz deep on two occasions while Yadier Molina has also homered to highlight his 5-for-15 stretch versus the hurler.
1. Freeman launched a solo shot in the ninth inning to cap a two-hit performance on Thursday, improving to 10-for-25 with three homers, four RBIs and seven runs scored versus St. Louis in 2019.
2. Ozuna, whose two-run double snapped a tie in the ninth inning in Game 1, has four multi-hit performances in his last six contests.
3. Acuna was benched by Brian Snitker after his previous base-running blunder in August, although the manager is not expected repeat his actions with his All-Star on Friday.
PREDICTION: Braves 3, Cardinals 2