After a run, the infantry of the Cardinals gathered on the hill to make the pitching change for a late game on Monday. That was when Kolten Wong saw it, right there, as her sensei, the soul of her team lifted the mask of his catcher.
Yadier Molina smiled.
Like the fire of St. Elmo, the legendary spark that ignites the tip of a ship Molina's grin – knowing and shining – pointed into a thunderstorm. He told his teammates that they were "just where we need to be" and still huddled deep in the Atlanta Bullpen in a close game. Wong recalled that Molina said the Cardinals were "a few swings from victory." Then Molina took out the two most important ones.
His team had the last seven outs and Molina joined the game in the eighth inning with a single and then won it with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the 1
Molina threw his bat into flat right field when Wong scored the winning run, which linked the series to two games, and imposed a crucial 5 on Wednesday at SunTrust Park. The Cardinals, who made comebacks in games and in the overall standings part of their careers, built their rally on the back of a batsman who failed three times on Monday, a reliefer who failed her on Sunday, and a racket all through September searched – all of them said they had gained confidence from their catcher.
"I think the whole city," said bank manager Oliver Marmol.
"We played one of our best balls this year with our backs to the wall." Crunch time, (and) you have to be careful if you bring us back to a corner, "said Miles Mikolas, a starter who was relieved of the win. "Sometimes you can see it in his face. Sometimes you can see it in his eyes. , , , If a guy like Yadi says you can do it and there are similarities between this team and other teams where he has worked with examples and ties, it gives you a lot of confidence. If a guy like that tells you it's going to be alright, we'll have that, you'll stop, and it'll go straight to your heart. They believe every word he says. "
In front of 42,203 spectators – the smallest playoff crowd of all time in Busch Stadium III – the Cardinals won their first extra-inning game in a division series and improved in eliminatory games to 8: 3 the NLDS. In Molinas 16 seasons they have reached the playoffs 10 times and lost only once in the division series with him as an everyday eye-catcher.
Marcell Ozuna, who had two homers in his last 71 record appearances.160-Striking September, home on Monday in his first two bats. In the first inning, he and Paul Goldschmidt were the third Cardinals duo to beat two consecutive homers in a playoff game, and this double power boost put the Cardinals 2-0 up 3-1 at the start. They chased the left Dallas Keuchel off the game in the fourth inning, two bouts after Ozuna's second homer, and started with a short break.
At the end of the seventh, Goldschmidt and Ozuna were four to six with two homers. The rest of the cast was one for 17.
But the game bent as expected – as Molina reminded them – from the hands of the starters and into a test of the bullpen, one diluted and the other ornery.
"Everyone was aware of his situation in the Bullpen," said Matt Carpenter, infantry cardinals. "We felt very good when we came back in this game. The only thing stopping us was a kind of nervous thing. We felt good about our chances if we could keep it simple. Some of these great innings, some of the things overlooked in this game, are some of the jams we could pick from. That's why the excitement was there, because Yadi, like all of us, knew we would have a chance to win if we could keep it close.
The Cardinals were dealing with shadows in the afternoon, and across the field drew defensive mishaps that proved costly. Carpenter had a mistake on a grounder hovering in the shadows before taking off his glove in the fifth inning. Ozzie Albies put in a two-legged homer that knocked out starter Dakota Hudson and gave Braves a 4: 3 lead.
In the seventh, midfielder Dexter Fowler lost a flying ball in the sun and fell forward of him to allow Ronald Acuna Jr. a leadoff triple. Acuna did not move on, the Braves' advantage did not increase as left-hander Andrew Miller calmed down and ended the inning.
John Brebbia scored a decisive goal in the sixth to attack two runners, and in the eighth rookie Ryan Helsley knocked the side out. These innings booked a Molina base goal that tied the game 4: 4. The Cardinals were one-on-one in the scorer position 0-8 before Molina jumped on a fastball from relegated Shane Greene. The ball tipped off Freddie Freeman's glove and dropped into the right field.
"We knew all along that we would win this game," said Molina.
] For the ninth time, the score was still 4: 4, Cardinals manager Mike Shildt returned to approach Carlos Martinez. Acuna greeted him with a double.
With Molina as chamomile Martinez retired.
"I liked the action on the court, the crispness, the delay," Shildt said. "If Carlos is here, you can go."
Then the game found Wong. Annoyed by Keuchel and the shadows of his first two bats, Wong struck thrice before the end of the fifth innings. He finished eighth, just ahead of Goldschmidt's double and Molina's two-out single. The 10th gave him a fifth chance. Wong led the inning against Julio Teheran, the opening starter of the Braves, who was not originally on their NLDS list. The second baseman of the Cardinals drove the second pitch for a double to the left because he said, "I've seen this pitch for the first time."
A deliberate gait and groundout ensued, and the Braves invited Molina to hit with an out and the winner run in third place.
All he had to do was put the ball into play to win.
So he did – in the first place he met from Tehran.
"I've been doing this for 16 years," Molina said.
"Sometimes you only thrive under pressure," said Carpenter, who was on deck. "He's definitely the backbone of the group, he has the most experience in the room, he played most of the seasons in the room, he had the biggest (moments) look around, we have some young people who might have a chance but he's the only Hall of Famer in the room, so there's a reason his voice can be heard in a clubhouse like this one. "
The Cardinals travel to Atlanta on Tuesday to win the winner-take-all Game 5 at 16:02 pm (St. Louis time) on Wednesday The starter will be one of the few pitchers unavailable for Game 4, Jack Flaherty, and therefore one of his teammates offered as the media Goldschmidt shouted, "Not Jack."
Flaherty grinned at his teammate.