Atlanta Braves right-hander Ian Anderson and Cincinnati Reds righty Luis Castillo have a tough act to follow in the second game of the National League wild-card series.
The two starting pitchers for Game 2 in the best-of-three series on Thursday in Atlanta will find it difficult to match their counterparts from the first game.
Wednesday’s starters — Cincinnati’s Trevor Bauer and Atlanta’s Max Fried — combined to throw 14 2/3 scoreless innings and strike out 17 batters in a game eventually won 1-0 by Atlanta in 13 innings.
No postseason game had ever gone so deep into extra innings before the first run was scored, and the teams combined for a playoff-record 37 strikeouts.
“Winning that first game in a short series is huge,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “It certainly adds to the stress (if you don’t).”
The Braves had lost 10 consecutive postseason series openers, including a wild-card game, since a victory in 2001, which was also the last year they won a playoff series.
Now it’s up to Anderson (3-2, 1.95 ERA) to continue Atlanta’s pitching momentum.
Anderson, the Braves’ first-round draft choice in 2016, made six starts since being promoted in midseason. He began his career by beating the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox. In his final regular-season outing on Sept. 24 against the Miami Marlins, Anderson pitched 5 2/3 innings and allowed three runs, all unearned. He has never faced Cincinnati.
Castillo (4-6, 3.21 ERA) made 12 starts during the regular season ahead of what will be his first career postseason start.
Only three times this year did Castillo allow four earned runs or more. One of those instances came in his final appearance on Saturday, when he yielded four runs in four innings at Minnesota.
Castillo’s big moment this season came when he threw a two-hit complete game against the St. Louis Cardinals, sparking a streak of 12 wins in 16 games that pushed the Reds into the playoffs.
Castillo has made three career starts against Atlanta, going 1-1 with a 3.86 ERA. He did not face the Braves this season.
Neither team could get much going on offense in the opener. The Braves were limited to six hits, and three of those came in the 13th inning. Cincinnati had 11 hits and left 13 runners on base.
“When you’re facing a guy like Trevor Bauer, it doesn’t surprise me,” Snitker said. “That’s a rough ride. Guys get more amped up and anxious in this situation. I still have a lot of confidence in our offense. I’m glad we got the win under our belt and hope it will sort of relax us.”
The Reds, who were 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position, had plenty of chances in extra innings and failed to score in the first game.
Cincinnati loaded the bases in the 11th inning against reliever Darren O’Day, but Tyler Matzek struck out Mike Moustakas to end the inning. They had runners on the corners with no outs in the 12th before Matzek struck out the next three batters. They had the bases loaded with one out in the 13th and failed to punch home a run.
“We’re trying to do everything we can to get a run across, especially the way Trevor was pitching at the time,” Cincinnati manager David Bell said. “Maybe a little overaggressive.”
Moustakas said, “We just didn’t get the job done — me definitely being included in that. When we needed to get it done, they made some quality pitches and we hit into some outs.”
–Field Level Media