The St. Louis Cardinals stunned the Atlanta Braves in Wednesday night's Game 5 of the NLDS, scoring more runs in the first inning than most NFL teams are capable of scoring points in the first quarter. It was a historic offensive outburst that moved St. Louis one step closer to the World Series while adding another sad chapter in Atlanta sports postseason history. (Although, anything is better than blowing a 28-3 lead in the Super Bowl—damn you, Falcons.) Turns out, it also came after a different kind of athletic endeavor.
Longtime St. Louis starter Adam Wainwright, who had the day off after pitching Game 3, went around the Cardinals clubhouse rounding up teammates for a putting contest. The three-time All-Star claims he wound up winning—and that the friendly competition got everyone in the right frame of mind. And who are we to argue? We've witnessed how much golf has helped the Golden State Warriors and Chicago Cubs in recent years. Golf is the best.
Here's how the St. Louis Dispatch reported the scene:
Before the game, veteran Adam Wainwright, who had started the Cardinals previous two NLDS game 5s, “surveyed” the clubhouse. He was looking for nerves. Instead, he found challengers. Wainwright, Miles Mikolas, Dakota Hudson, and John Gant held a putting contest in the long hallway adjacent to the clubhouse. (Wainwright insists he won.) Several players said they left a pregame meeting with coaches Jeff Albert and Jobel Jimenez “comfortable” in their plan for (Braves Game 5 starter Mike) Foltynewicz. Around every corner he walked or down every hall he putted, Wainwright saw “very, very, very confident” teammates.
How much of that sourced from their starter?
“Didn’t hurt,” said Wainwright, his voice hoarse from cheering by the end of the first inning. “Certainly did not hurt everybody’s confidence.”
So there you have it. The St. Louis Cardinals had that historic 10-run first inning because they had a pre-game putting contest. It's science. And to those teams still alive in the MLB Playoffs, take note.