Braves to face Cards in one-game Wild Card playoff
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TSBURGH -- One year after being the first of the victims the Cardinals claimed on the way to a World Series title, the Braves are going to have a chance to repay the favor.
Courtesy of the Dodgers' 4-3 loss to the Giants in the wee hours of Wednesday, the Braves will host the Cardinals on Friday in a one-game playoff that will determine which of these two National League Wild Card entrants advances to the NL Division Series.
The Braves will send Kris Medlen to the mound to oppose Kyle Lohse in this win-one-or-be-done matchup. The game time will be at 5:07 p.m. ET on TBS.
"It's only one game," Braves outfielder Martin Prado said. "It can go real good or [stink]. The only thing we can control there is to play the same game we've been playing all year."
This has been a completely different year for the Braves, who rolled through this season's final month to avoid the collapse they endured while going 9-19 last September. These struggles allowed the Cardinals to earn a playoff berth that seemed highly unlikely when they entered the season's final month trailing Atlanta by 9 1/2 games in the NL Wild Card standings.
One year later or maybe one year too late in the eyes of Braves fans, Major League Baseball added a second Wild Card team in both leagues. The Wild Card teams will play a one-game playoff, which is essentially what the Braves and Cardinals would have experienced last year since they had the top two records in the NL Wild Card race.
"They've got a different team," Atlanta center fielder Michael Bourn said. "I don't want to say we've got a different team. But we do have a different team. Same players, but a different team."
This will mark the first time the Cardinals will see Medlen as a starting pitcher. It seems safe to say he is not the same guy when they tagged him for three earned runs in 4 2/3 relief innings this year.
Medlen has posted a 0.97 ERA in the 12 starts he has made since making the conversion from reliever to starter. The Braves have won each of the past 23 games that he has started, dating back to the 2010 season.
"I don't think we could have gone wrong with [Tim Hudson or Medlen]," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "They're good makeup guys and good guys that I think can handle that situation."
Lohse has gone 16-3 with a 2.86 ERA in 33 starts this year. The veteran right-hander allowed a season-high five earned runs and nine hits in just five innings on May 29 at Turner Field. That was the only start he has made against Atlanta this year.
The Braves have won five of the six games played against the Cardinals this season.
"I don't think that has anything to do with the game on Friday, because it's a different environment," Bourn said. "They'll have the upper hand with the experience. But other than that, I think we'll be just fine. I think everybody in here is looking forward to it."