Braves Advance to NLCS!

Wow. What a series against the Milwaukee Brewers and the Atlanta Braves!! This series was nothing short of amazing. Pitching was great from both teams, offense was hard to come by for the first three games, and then in game four, the Braves won the series and have advanced. And what’s a better way to do it than at your home park with your fans cheering you on??

NLDS Game One: Charlie Morton vs. Corbin Burnes, Braves lost 2-1

This game was a serious pitching duel. In fact, this whole series was a low scoring, pitchers duel. Charlie Morton pitched phenomenal for the Braves. Morton pitched six innings, allowed three hits, gave up two hits, had nine strikeouts and only one walk. He pitched into the seventh inning, and that is where he gave up the two runs that the Brewers scored. They came on a two-run homer by Rowdy Tellez to give them a 2-0 lead. Those two runs were enough to allow Milwaukee to win.

Atlanta got one run on the board in the top of the eighth inning. Joc Pederson came on to pinch-hit. He hit a solo home run to left-center, to make it a 2-1 game. However, that was the only run that the Braves could produce and the Brewers took game one.

Now, the Atlanta Braves had a chance to score in the top of the first inning. They had runners on first and third with no outs. Ozzie Albies was up to bat, and he hit into an unfortunate double play. Brewers first baseman Rowdy Tellez (who later hit the game winning home run) caught a sinking line drive up the foul line to rob Ozzie of at least a single, and then completed the double play with a strong throw to home plate to get Jorge Soler out.

That double play set the tone of the whole game. Both teams knew runs were going to be hard to come by, and that missed run scoring opportunity for Atlanta came back to haunt them when they only lost by one run.

Game Two: Max Fried vs. Brandon Woodruff, Braves won 3-0

With Max Fried on the mound for Atlanta, you are pretty much guaranteed for a good, strong outing. He did not disappoint. Fried pitched six scoreless innings, allowed three hits, zero walks, and struck out nine. Fried only had 81 pitches through his six innings, I was surprised that Brian Snitker did not bring him back out for the seventh inning. But everything worked out in the end.

The Braves came up with a total of three runs. In the top of the third inning, Jorge Soler reached base with a double. Freddie Freeman scored Soler with an RBI single to make it 1-0. To make it a 2-0 lead, Ozzie Albies hit a booming double off the top of right field wall. Getting a good read off the ball, Freeman scored easily. What turned out to be a double, was almost a home run. Albies’ double hit right off the top of the yellow line. But it went back into the field of play, therefore it was not a home run.

In the top of the sixth inning, Austin Riley hit a towering solo home run to make it a 3-0 game. He sent that baseball a long way into straight away center field. That man has some power!

Atlanta’s bullpen was lights out for the rest of the game and backed up Fried’s great outing. This win for the Braves tied the series 1-1.

Game Three: Ian Anderson vs. Freddy Peralta, Braves won 3-0

Ian Anderson took the mound for Atlanta in this game. He pitched five innings, allowed three hits, zero runs, zero walks, and he had six strikeouts. Anderson had a good outing, and he is proving time and time again what a good pitcher he his. Ian could have gone another inning, but he had 84 pitches and, like with Fried, Brian Snitker played it safe and only let him go five innings. And, he gave us a quality start — in a game like this one, that was all that mattered.

Like in game one, the Braves had a good chance of scoring early. In the bottom of the second inning, the Braves had runners on first and second with one out. Austin Riley was on third and Adam Duvall was the runner on first. Travis d’Arnaud was up to bat and he flew out to left field. His fly out was plenty deep enough to score Riley from third so he tagged up. Riley was halfway down the third base line when Duvall decided (on his own) to try and advance to second. Brewers’ left fielder, Christian Yelich saw what Duvall was trying to do, threw to second base, and got Adam Duvall out. That was a huge blow to Atlanta early and it shifted the mood of the game.

Like Atlanta, the Brewers had chances to score but couldn’t pull the trigger. In the top of the fifth inning, Milwaukee had second and third and no one out. They got into a run down between third and home, and then couldn’t come up with any way to score.

Joc Pederson came on to pinch hit for Ian Anderson in the bottom of the fifth. With no one out, Dansby Swanson and Travis d’Arnaud were on base. After a questionable strike two call to give Pederson a 1-2 count, Joc hit an elevated fastball and it left the ballpark in a hurry. His three-run homer went into the Chop House and gave Atlanta a huge 3-0 lead.

Those three runs from Pederson’s home run were all that the Braves’ pitching staff needed. The bullpen was lights out and preserved a 3-0 lead. That gave Atlanta a 2-1 lead in the series.

Game Four: Charlie Morton vs. Erik Lauer, Braves won 5-4

This game was awesome. It was a rollercoaster, though. Scoring was ALL over the place. At some points int the game, when things started looking good for the Braves, the Brewers would come back and take the lead. However, in the end, it was our Atlanta Braves who held on and won, advancing to the NLCS.

Charlie Morton started this game for Atlanta. With him starting on only three days rest, we knew he wasn’t going to go more than five innings. Morton went 3.1 innings, allowed four hits, two runs, one walk, and had five strikeouts. Coming into this, we knew that Charlie was not going to have his best stuff coming off of only three days rest, and there was the chance that Milwaukee’s hitters would see his pitches better since they saw him just three days before. All of this coming into play, Morton did not do a bad job at all, he kept the scoring low, and kept his team in this game.

Coming into the bottom of the fourth inning, the Braves were down 2-0. The Brewers had scored two off of Charlie Morton via two RBI singles. Atlanta, however, did not let that hinder their determination. To lead off the bottom of the fourth inning, Austin Riley had a single. Adam Duvall and Joc Pederson followed him with pop-outs to make two quick outs. Travis d’Arnaud kept the inning alive with a walk, and then Guillermo Heredia was hit by a pitch to load the bases. In this situation, the Braves had a great chance to score…it was just a matter of being able to do it. And they did just that! Eddie Rosario was up to bat. After getting two quick strikes, Rosario hit a line drive single into center field that allowed two runners to score, and tied the game 2-2.

Huascar Ynoa came onto pitch the fifth inning for Atlanta. He started the inning with a single to Christian Yelich, and got a strikeout to make the first out of the inning. Then, he gave up a mammoth two-run home run to Rowdy Tellez, giving the Brewers are 4-2 lead. That home run changed the ENTIRE atmosphere of the ballpark quick. The fans went from being excited because the game was tied, to dead silent because their team was all of a sudden losing again.

Down 2-0 the Braves had to come up with some offense. To start off the bottom of the fifth inning, Freddie Freeman struck out. Ozzie Albies reached base after him on a infield single. Austin Riley walked and then, Adam Duvall was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Joc Pederson grounded into an RBI forceout that allowed Ozzie to score from third, making it a 4-3 game. And then, to tie the game, Travis d’Arnaud had an RBI single that scored Austin Riley and made it a 4-4 game. Once again, the Braves’ fans had something to cheer about!

With the game still tied in the eighth inning, the Milwaukee Brewers decided to bring on their closer Josh Hader. Hader is normally the Brewers closer. I’m not entirely sure why they brought him on to pitch the eighth instead of the ninth inning, but I’m not complaining! 😉 After Hader got two quick outs of Eddie Rosario and Dansby Swanson, Freddie Freeman was up to bat. Freddie wasted no time. On the very first pitch he saw, Freddie hit a solo home run to center field giving the Braves a 5-4 lead.

Immediately after that home run was hit, the entire vibe of the ballpark shifted. The fans were louder than ever, Atlanta’s dugout was ecstatic, and Freddie Freeman, who normally doesn’t show much emotion, was shouting with all of them. His home run was just enough for the Atlanta Braves’ closer, Will Smith, to get the last three outs of the game, record the win, and send the Braves to the NLCS!

This series was nothing short of what you would want a postseason series to be like. It was entertaining, stressful, and for the most part, well played. So many things took place to make the Braves win the series, but these are the top three things for me:

  • Pitching:

Not only was the starting pitching in this series great for Atlanta…but so was the bullpen. The Braves’ bullpen throughout this entire series was lights out. Yes, the relievers would give up a hit here and there, but they did not allow a SINGLE Brewers runner to score. Now that is impressive!

  • Joc Pederson’s game three home run:

Joc Pederson is one cool player. Not only is he rocking his pearl necklace, but he can hit. In pinch-hitting appearances for the Atlanta Braves in this series, Joc was 3-3. Plus, two of those hits were home runs…one of which won game three for the Braves. That is crazy! Having the kind of depth that Pederson has shown he can bring off the bench is huge for Atlanta. Not only is it important in the regular season to have a good pinch-hitter, it is even more important in a postseason game, when at any point you could face elimination.

  • Freddie Freeman’s Home Run:

Obviously this was a huge moment in this series. Coming into a tied ballgame, against one of the best closers in baseball, and hitting the game winning home run is definitely a huge moment. Freddie Freeman’s home run against Josh Hader just continues to prove the resilience of the Braves’ team. After they lost Acuña, got the news that Soroka wasn’t going to be able to pitch this year, and losing Marcell Ozuna to legal matters…things did not look good for Atlanta. But did they give up? Absolutely not! They played even better, harder baseball and you could tell there was a purpose behind it. And it took the WHOLE team to do it. Not just two or three players, no. Every single player on the Atlanta Braves’ roster came through in some way or another, and they couldn’t be here with ought them.

And now, they are going into the NLCS with their heads held high and their eyes on the prize. That prize being a 2021 World Series title.

Go Braves!

2 thoughts on “Braves Advance to NLCS!”

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