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NLDS Game 5 open thread

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Both National League Division Series have come down to a decisive Game 5. It’ll all be settled tonight.

Divisional Series - St Louis Cardinals v Atlanta Braves - Game One
Nick Markakis, for reasons not immediately apparent, is batting fifth for the Braves tonight.
Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

A winner-take-all baseball game is about as exciting as it gets. When there are two teams that have to play a game and for one of them, it’ll all be over tomorrow, the stakes are ramped up. Every play looms large over the outcome, and in the later innings, if things are close, every at-bat is full of tension.

Both of the National League Division Series have reached this point. After playing four games, both Cardinals-Braves and Nationals-Dodgers are knotted at two games apiece. They settle it all tonight. Two seasons will end, two narratives snuffed out, while two continue on with a berth in the World Series on the line.

It might not even be fun for fans of the teams that end up winning to watch it all, depending on how it all plays out. I miss the Orioles playing good baseball, but I don’t miss the specific postseason stress that comes with watching a game that really matters. That is only fun in retrospect when they win. Until then, it sucks.

For most Orioles fans, you probably don’t have much to inspire a rooting interest in these two matchups, so you can enjoy the ups and downs without any corresponding heart rate increase. Better days will be coming eventually, we can hope. For now, these things are other people’s problems.

Tonight’s schedule:

  • Cardinals at Braves, 5:02 Eastern, TBS
  • Nationals at Dodgers, 8:37 Eastern, TBS

Cardinals lineup

  1. Dexter Fowler - CF
  2. Kolten Wong - 2B
  3. Paul Goldschmidt - 1B
  4. Marcell Ozuna - LF
  5. Yadier Molina - C
  6. Matt Carpenter - 3B
  7. Tommy Edman - RF
  8. Paul DeJong - SS
  9. Jack Flaherty - RHP

The Cardinals drafted Jack Flaherty with the 34th pick in the 2014 draft. That would be the draft where the Orioles did not choose until #90 because they traded a pick for Bud Norris, then signed Ubaldo Jimenez and Nelson Cruz. Flaherty posted a 0.968 WHIP with 231 strikeouts in 196.1 innings this year. Must be nice to be a fan of a team that can get pitching like that.

Braves lineup

  1. Ronald Acuna Jr. - CF
  2. Ozzie Albies - 2B
  3. Freddie Freeman - 1B
  4. Josh Donaldson - 3B
  5. Nick Markakis - LF
  6. Adam Duvall - RF
  7. Brian McCann - C
  8. Dansby Swanson - SS
  9. Mike Foltynewicz - RHP

When I look at this lineup and I see Markakis batting fifth, it seems nuts to me. He only had a .776 OPS this year. Duvall, the guy immediately behind him, had an .880 OPS in only 130 PA, and McCann and Swanson below him both were worse batters this season. So maybe it’s not that crazy? Except that Markakis is 3-17 in this series. Maybe today is his day.

Nationals lineup

  1. Trea Turner - SS
  2. Adam Eaton - RF
  3. Anthony Rendon - 3B
  4. Juan Soto - LF
  5. Howie Kendrick - 1B
  6. Asdrubal Cabrera - 2B
  7. Kurt Suzuki - C
  8. Victor Robles - CF
  9. Stephen Strasburg - RHP

I would probably not feel any dislike for this team if they did not inhabit the metropolitan area that is adjacent to the one where I grew up, and as a result of that bordering, have a messy arranged marriage over a TV network.

Dodgers lineup

  1. Joc Pederson - RF
  2. Max Muncy - 2B
  3. Justin Turner - 3B
  4. Cody Bellinger - CF
  5. Corey Seager - SS
  6. Matt Beaty - LF
  7. Gavin Lux - 2B
  8. Will Smith - C
  9. Walker Buehler - RHP

Seriously, Dodgers, don’t blow this or I’ll never forgive you. And I’m sure that the prospect of my enduring enmity is a frightening thing to contemplate indeed.