Cardinals and Braves are both lucky to have made it to Game 5 with cold bats

Baseball ST. LOUIS — On one hand, both the Cardinals and Braves have shown tremendous amounts of resolve and gumption in the NLDS, battling toward a winner-take-all Game 5 on Wednesday in Atlanta.In Game 1, the Cardinals trailed by two runs heading into the eighth inning before rallying for the victory. The Braves went into Game 2 trailing in the series and facing the daunting prospect of trying to solve Jack Flaherty, who had a 0.93 ERA in his final 16 starts, but they scored three times and won that one. And in Game 3, the Braves were down to their last out before scoring three runs to pull off a dramatic win. And then in Game 4, the Cardinals trailed by a run heading into the eighth (sound familiar?) before tying the game in that inning and winning it in the 10th, both RBIs courtesy of Yadier Molina. MORE: Molina's heroics add to complicated Hall of Fame resumeCompelling stuff. The never-say-die attitude is strong in this series. Makes for wonderful headlines and column fodder. But there’s another side to this series, too. If they’re being honest, fans of both teams have to be wondering how their favorite squad is still alive in October, just based on the two offenses. BravesLet’s start here: Freddie Freeman, franchise icon and 2019 NL MVP candidate, hasn’t had a hit since Game 1. He’s 0 for 12 in the past three games, with one walk and four strikeouts. In the two contests in St. Louis, Freeman came to the plate with runners on base in seven of his nine at-bats, and not only did he not get a hit or drive in a run, but he didn’t even advance any of the runners a single base. In those two games, he swung and missed 13 times. THIRTEEN TIMES!And he’s not alone. Josh Donaldson — though he had the huge double leading off the ninth that started the rally in Game 3 — is 2 for 15 in the series, Nick Markakis is 3 for 17, Matt Joyce is 1 for 9 and Brian McCann is 2 for 13. Freeman hits third in the B

raves' lineup, followed by, you guessed it, Donaldson, Markakis, Joyce and McCann.Those five guys are batting a combined .143 for the series (10 for 70). If you would have told Braves fans their Nos. 3 through 7 hitters were batting a combined .143 through four games, most probably would have wondered how their team even lasted four games.CardinalsThe hitting struggles go both ways in this series. And a lot of that has to do with excellent pitching from both sides, but the mid-afternoon start times haven’t exactly helped, either. A quick insight on that, from Kolten Wong after Game 4. “People might think I’m making excuses. I mean, obviously, I didn’t have the best first three or four at-bats, but that’s tough, man,” Wong said. “When you don’t play at this time of the year — ever — and then in playoff situations against pitchers who are locked in, you’re going to get thrown in a 2 o’clock game with the shadows like that? It’s tough. You’ve got three or four different shadows coming in, and the ball is literally appearing, disappearing, appearing, disappearing at mid- to upper-90s, you’re just grinding.”Anyway, Wong, Dexter Fowler, Paul DeJong and Yadier Molina — yes, even with his Game 4 heroics, he’s just 3 for 16 at the plate this series — have combined to hit just .141 (9-for-64). Fowler, who has batted in the leadoff spot all four games, is just 1 for 17 with one walk and four strikeouts against Braves pitching. BravesIn Game 2, Adam Duvall capitalized on an opportunity to help secure the win, blasting a two-run homer in the seventh inning to boost a scant 1-0 lead to 3-0. In Game 4, though, the offense didn’t capitalize on anything after the team took a 4-3 lead on a fifth-inning home run by Ozzie Albies.In the sixth, the Braves had the bases loaded with two outs — after first and second with one out — but Duvall struck out to end the inning. In the seventh, Ronald Acuña Jr. led off with a triple and the Braves again loaded the bases again with two outs, but Adeiny Hechavarria flew out to deep left field to end the threat. Heck, after the Cardinals tied it in the bottom of the eighth, Acuña led off the ninth with a double but never advanced past third.The Cardinals won in the 10th. CardinalsSurprise, surprise. The Cardinals committed the same failure-to-add-insurance-runs sin in Game 3. Nursing a 1-0 lead behind a brilliant performance from veteran Adam Wainwright, the Cardinals were gifted two runners in the eighth, when Max Fried walked the first two batters. Things went downhill, though, quickly. DeJong — remember him from the previous entry? — popped up to very shallow right field, not nearly deep enough for runners to even think about advancing. And then Harrison Bader — who entered as a pinch-runner after Matt Carpenter walked — was caught stealing when he broke for third before Darren O’Day delivered his pitch. Pinch-hitter Jose Martinez then singled to put two runners on again, but Fowler flew out to deep center to end the inning. The Braves won with three runs in the ninth.