I was stuck at home this week during the Atlanta ice storm. In my boredom I decided to peruse my DVR for something interesting and I came across my recording of Game 2 vs. L.A. last year. It was a great game and I enjoyed re-living the one great moment of the Braves 2013 postseason. But it also got me thinking – all of the Braves recent playoff wins have been in Game 2 of the Division Series. The last three times: 2013, 2010 and 2005. Atlanta lost in four games, and each time the one win was Game 2.
This is probably why we didn’t win the Wild Card game in 2012. It was just a Game 1.
In 2005, the Braves were coming off a Game 1 loss in Tim Hudson’s start. But John Smoltz was on the hill for Game 2 vs. 43-year-old Roger Clemons. After facing a 1-0 deficit, rookie Brian McCann came to the plate and belted a 3-run homer in the 2nd inning and the Braves never looked back, winning 7-1.
In 2010 the Braves faced the Giants. The series starting in San Francisco with a dominating performance by Tim Lincecum in Game 1. Tommy Hanson was next up and he was quickly battered by Pat Burrell with a 3-run HR in the 1st inning. By the 2nd it was 4-0 Giants. Still the Braves hung tight with Matt Cain getting a run in the 6th while holding San Fran down. In the 8th inning the Braves rallied and Alex Gonzalez came through with a game tying double. It went into extra innings at 4-4 when Rick Ankiel hit an absolute moon shot into the bay that was the winning run, 5-4 in 11.
In 2013, the Braves were coming off facing another gem – this one by Clayton Kershaw in Game 1. Mike Minor dueled Zach Grienke in the second game and it was tight the whole way. In a move questioned by many, Don Mattingly chose to walk pinch hitter Reed Johnson to face Jason Heyward with the bases loaded – and JHey delivered with a two run single to make it 4-1. But the Dodgers quickly recovered with a HamRam HR to make it 4-3. A huge double play turned by Luis Avalian and a caught stealing in the top of the 9th as executed by Laird and Simmons were huge defensive plays, and the Braves won 4-3.
All three of these games were very exciting. 2010 and 2013 were excruciating to sit through as they required HUGE double plays to get out of jams, clutch hitting, etc. Hopefully the Braves can find a way to win a few more games and stay alive for a deeper postseason run this year.