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The Braves in the Postseason

September 29, 2019

Hugh Atkins

The Atlanta Braves are headed to the National League Division Series, and they will try to end a long postseason dry spell. The Braves haven’t won a postseason series since 2001 when they swept the Houston Astros, despite having played in seven series since then.

The Braves played in the first 11 NLDS, which began in 1995. They won the first five of those, including sweeps of the Los Angeles Dodgers (1996), Houston Astros (1997), and Chicago Cubs (1998); the Braves beat the Astros 3-1 in 1999. The St. Louis Cardinals swept the Braves in 2000, but the Braves bounced back to sweep the Astros in 2001.

The Braves were up 2-1 against the San Francisco Giants in 2002, but lost the final two games. The Braves lost in five games to the Cubs in 2003 and to the Astros in 2004, marking the last time the Braves pushed a series to the limit. The Astros knocked off the Braves in four games in 2005; the Braves lost in four games to the Giants in 2010.

© Strat-O-Matic Game Co.

The Braves only appearance in a Wild Card game (2012) ended in disaster with the Cardinals beating them 6-3. That’s the game in which Sam Holbrook invoked the infield fly rule on a ball hit at least 100 feet into left field, even though the Cardinals could not have turned two on Bobby Cox on the play, but I digress.

The Braves returned to the NLDS in 2013, only to lose to the Dodgers in four games; they suffered the same fate last year.

In that 2001 NLDS, the Braves were making their tenth straight postseason appearance. These were still the Braves of Tom Glavine, Andruw Jones, Chipper Jones, Javy Lopez, and Greg Maddux, but looking back over an account of the series, I saw some names from that team that don’t usually come to mind when thinking of the Braves postseason history.

Rudy Seanez got the win in Game 1 in relief of Maddux after the Braves scored four runs in the top of the eighth inning to win 7-4; John Smoltz got the save. Chipper Jones delivered the big blow–a three-run homer off Billy Wagner. Brian Jordan and Andruw Jones also homered.

© T.C.G.

Game 2 was a classic Braves win. Glavine pitched eight shutout innings and Smoltz got the save. B.J. Surhoff doubled to open the second inning and scored on a double play grounder by Rey Sanchez. The Braves made that unearned run hold up as the only run of the game.

The Braves took the lead in Game 3 on a two-run homer by catcher Paul Bako in the bottom of the second inning; Julio Franco added a solo shot in the third to make it 3-0. Bako drove in another run on a squeeze bunt in the bottom of the fourth. John Burkett gave up a two-run homer in the top of the seventh to make it 4-2, but Steve Reed and Mike Remlinger closed out the inning with no further damage. After Steve Karsay held the Astros scoreless in the top of the eighth, Chipper Jones hit a two-run homer in the Braves half of the inning to make the score 6-2. Smoltz closed out the win with a perfect ninth inning, and the Braves moved on to the NLCS where they lost in five games to the Arizona Diamondbacks.

It’s always great when your favorite team makes it to the postseason, but it has been a long time since Braves fans have had much to celebrate during the long winter offseason. Maybe this year will be different.

(Postseason details are from the 2019 Atlanta Braves Media Guide; game details are from RetrosheetFor more on “The Braves in the Postseason” visit ¡NO ME DIGAS!)

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