ATLANTA — Break out the peanut butter and honey. Kris Medlen is ready for another start.
Only this time, it’s the biggest game of his career.
The diminutive righthander, who didn’t even start the season in Atlanta’s rotation, will deliver the first pitch in the inaugural wild-card playoff against the defending World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals. The Braves couldn’t have asked for anyone better in the winner-take-all format, considering they haven’t lost a start by Medlen (10-1, 1.57 ERA) in more than two years.
Just stop reminding him about it.
‘‘It’s not me by myself,’’ said Medlen, who always snacks on a peanut butter and honey sandwich before his starts. ‘‘I’ve given up four or five runs in a start, and guys pull it out for me. My name is in the books or whatever, but it’s a team thing. I didn’t do it all by myself, that’s for sure.’’
The Braves have won 23 consecutive starts by Medlen — a modern big league record. He eclipsed the mark held by a pair of Hall of Famers, Carl Hubbell and Whitey Ford.
‘‘You can’t help but notice when someone’s having the amount of success that he’s had,’’ said Kyle Lohse, who will start for the Cardinals. ‘‘It’s impressive what he’s done. Obviously, the team plays very well behind him, and to be that consistently good to keep your team in games or win games says a lot about what kind of pitcher he is.
‘‘I expect him to keep doing what he’s been doing out there,’’ Lohse added, ‘‘and my job is to do the same thing that he’s doing. Go out there and shut down their team.’’
No one is quite sure what to expect from the one-game format, which was added this year when Major League Baseball expanded the playoff field by adding a second wild-card team in each league.
‘‘We know the necessity to make it like a Game 7,’’ Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. ‘‘You do things differently.’’
Besides, St. Louis knows it’s just fortunate to have a chance to win another title. The Cardinals finished six games behind Atlanta in the wild-card standings. If not for the new system, they would be watching from home.
The winner advances to face NL East champion Washington in the divisional round.
In 12 starts this season, Medlen was 9-0 with an 0.97 ERA. He struck out 13 hitters in one game, 12 in another. In six of those appearances, he didn’t give up an earned run.
When asked about his pregame routine, Medlen made it clear he doesn’t have one.
Except for the peanut butter and honey.
‘‘It’s a light meal. It’s good energy,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s not like I’m going to eat fried chicken.’’