After two consecutive failed attempts to reach the National League Championship Series, the Atlanta Braves have reached their first NLCS in 19 years. For the Braves this is one step closer to securing their first World Series appearance in the new millennium.
After sweeping the Cincinnati Reds in the Wild Card round, the Braves met a familiar foe in the Divisional Series. The Braves and the Miami Marlins are not strangers in the regular season. However, the last time these teams met in the postseason was back in 1997. The Marlins would win that series and eventually win a World Series later that October.
But history did not repeat itself as the Braves overpowered and outplayed Miami in every single game, paving their way to an NLCS berth.
Ronald Acuña, Jr. started off the series with a bang, homering on the second pitch thrown by Marlins starter Sandy Alcantara. However, it was Travis d’Arnaud and Marcell Ozuna, two offseason acquisitions for Atlanta that made the difference. Ozuna and d’Arnaud accounted for 6 of the Braves’ 9 runs, and 5 of their 12 hits.
The second game of this series was a completely different story.
Ian Anderson got the ball for Atlanta, as the Braves looked for their 4th straight postseason win. Anderson tossed a gem of an outing, tossing 5.2 innings of 3-hit baseball before Braves manager Brian Snitker went to his bullpen. On the other side of the diamond, Marlins skipper Don Mattingly countered with Pablo Lopez, who also threw 5 innings of 3-hit baseball.
The difference between Lopez’s outing and Anderson’s are two swings from Braves hitters. Solo home runs off the bats of Dansby Swanson and d’Arnaud gave the Braves a 2-0 lead that the bullpen would hold. The Braves had a commanding 2-0 series lead, one they would not give up anytime soon.
And then in Game 3, the Braves continued to dominate at the dish. Once again Ozuna and d’Arnaud, along with NL MVP candidate Freddie Freeman, put the Braves up early, allowing Atlanta to coast to a 7-0 win, and an NLCS appearance.
And now the Atlanta Braves can sit back and relax as they wait for their opponent to emerge from the Dodgers/Padres series.
This victory should not go uncelebrated in Atlanta. This is a monumental success for an organization that spent a good portion of the last few years under .500 and with an uncertain future.
The Atlanta Braves now own the the top spot in the NL East. If there was any debate over that fact it’s over. The Braves are now four wins away from a World Series appearance.