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14 men, 10 runs, a Cards' 1st for record books

@JoeTrezz
October 11, 2019

ATLANTA -- Looking to secure their first National League Championship Series berth since 2014, the Cardinals wasted no time. They simply put together the biggest first inning in MLB postseason history. They earned that distinction by scoring 10 first-inning runs against the Braves in Wednesday’s 13-1 win in Game 5

ATLANTA -- Looking to secure their first National League Championship Series berth since 2014, the Cardinals wasted no time. They simply put together the biggest first inning in MLB postseason history.

They earned that distinction by scoring 10 first-inning runs against the Braves in Wednesday’s 13-1 win in Game 5 of the NL Division Series at SunTrust Park, the most ever by a team in the first inning of a playoff game. The Cardinals received RBI hits from Marcell Ozuna, Tommy Edman, Dexter Fowler and Kolten Wong as part of their five knocks in the frame, during which they sent 14 men to the plate.

St. Louis will host Washington in the NLCS after the Wild Card-winning Nationals beat the top-seeded Dodgers, 7-3, in 10 innings. It is the Cardinals' first NLCS since 2014 and their 14th LCS in club history.

St. Louis also scored on two bases-loaded walks and a dropped third strike that allowed another run. Their 10 first-inning runs topped the previous postseason high of seven, set by the Milwaukee Braves against the Yankees in Game 2 of the 1958 World Series.

Game Date Result Highlights
Gm 1 Oct. 3 STL 7, ATL 6 Watch
Gm 2 Oct. 4 ATL 3, STL 0 Watch
Gm 3 Oct. 6 ATL 3, STL 1 Watch
Gm 4 Oct. 7 STL 5, ATL 4 (10) Watch
Gm 5 Oct. 9 STL 13, ATL 1 Watch

It also tied the record for the most runs scored in any postseason inning, with the 1929 A’s (seventh inning of World Series Game 4), ‘68 Tigers (third inning of World Series Game 6) and 2002 Angels (seventh inning of American League Championship Series Game 5).

“It was never enough runs, man,” Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said. “'Just keep eating, boys, keep going,' which we did.”

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Bearing the bulk of the damage was Braves starter Mike Foltynewicz, who outdueled Jack Flaherty in Game 2 but suffered one of the shortest postseason starts ever on Wednesday. Foltynewicz allowed seven of St. Louis’ first eight hitters to reach, was charged with seven runs (six earned), walked three and recorded his only out on a sacrifice bunt. He was lifted for Max Fried with the bases loaded, one out and four runs already home. Fried walked Flaherty to force in another run before surrendering RBI doubles to Fowler and Wong.

“I don't know that I've seen that many guys hit in the first inning that quick in my entire life,” Braves manager Brian Snitkner said. “I don't know. It wasn't how we drew it up, I know that. I don't know. That thing just kept rolling, and we couldn't stop it.”

Staked to a double-digit lead from the outset, the Cardinals cruised to the NLCS behind Flaherty, who delivered six innings of one-run ball. Here is a deeper look into the inning that got them there, by the numbers:

1/3: Number of innings Foltynewicz lasted, tied for the shortest in MLB and Braves postseason history. The last non-opener postseason starter to record just one out was Yankees right-hander Luis Severino in the 2017 AL Wild Card Game vs. the Twins. The two other Braves to do it were John Thomson (who left with an injury in Game 3 of the 2004 NLDS) and Steve Avery (1992 NLCS Game 5).

7: The number of pitchers in postseason history to make starts of one-third of an inning or less in winner-take-all games. In the prior six before Foltynewicz, those pitchers’ teams actually went 3-3. The most recent was Severino in that 2017 AL Wild Card Game.

10-0: The all-time record for teams that scored at least 10 runs in winner-take-all postseason games. The Cardinals had all but wrapped up victory after one turn at bat.

10: The number of earned runs Flaherty allowed over the entire second half of the regular season, a span of 15 starts. He got more run support on Wednesday before he even stepped on the mound.

.643: All-time winning percentage of the team that scored first in winner-take-all games in postseason history, including the Cardinals’ victory. That translates to a 74-41 record, according to Elias Sports Bureau.

1: Time before this season, including the playoffs, a team had scored 10-plus runs in an inning without a homer. The Marlins did it by scoring 11 fifth-inning runs against the Brewers on June 4, 2019.

2011: The last time a team scored 10-plus runs in an inning with five or fewer hits was June 20, 2011, by the Red Sox in the seventh inning of their 14-5 win over the Padres.

11: The Cardinals’ franchise record for most first-inning runs scored in a game, done five times. The most recent example came on May 8, 2005, vs. San Diego.

1968: The only other time a Cardinals pitcher drew a bases-loaded walk in the postseason before Flaherty. It was taken by Bob Gibson in Game 4 of the World Series in Detroit.

15: The record for most runs in a winner-take-all-postseason game, done by the Braves against the Cardinals. Atlanta won 15-0 in Game 7 of the 1996 NLCS.

12: The largest margin of victory in Cardinals franchise postseason history, which they matched on Wednesday. They also won Game 6 of the 1982 World Series by a 13-1 score.

12: The Braves’ margin of defeat, the largest by a home team facing elimination in postseason history. The previous record was held by the 1934 Tigers, who lost by 11 to the Cardinals in Game 7 the World Series.

94: This relates more to the entire game than just the first inning, but it is notable nonetheless. The contest marked Yadier Molina’s 94th career postseason game, surpassing former Braves third baseman Chipper Jones for the NL record.

Joe Trezza covers the Orioles for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JoeTrezz.