5. Clayton Kershaw retires Freddie Freeman and Nick Markakis back-to-back with a runner on third in the bottom of the 1st
After a Game 1 loss that saw the Braves drop a goose egg on the scoreboard, Atlanta had a prime opportunity to bring in a run in the first inning of Game 2. The rookie sensation, Ronald Acuña Jr., led off the game with a double to the left-center field gap off of Clayton Kershaw. Johan Camargo did his job moving Acuña to third, leaving both Freddie Freeman and Nick Markakis with the opportunity to, not only give the Braves their first lead of the series, but put a little pressure on Clayton Kershaw, who has notoriously struggled a lot more in the playoffs.
The Braves were unable to capitalize, however. Freddie Freeman rolled over one to second that did not allow Acuña to advance. Nick Markakis followed him with a strikeout looking. The Dodgers would go on to score two runs in the bottom of the 1st themselves, and that was all Kershaw needed for them to take a 2-0 series lead.
4. David Freese’s two-out, two-RBI single in the 6th inning of Game 4
There’s no doubt the Braves were starting to gain a little confidence. After squeezing out a win in Game 3, Atlanta found themselves with a lead again in Game 4. This time because of a clutch pinch-hit single by Kurt Suzuki that scored two runs. The Braves would hold that 2-1 lead into the 6th inning, when David Freese stepped to the plate.
With a runner on second and third and two outs, Freese entered the game as a pinch hitter and reminded everybody of what he brings to October. Brad Brach was able to get two strikes on Freese before he hammered a hard single up the middle to give Los Angeles a 3-2 lead. It was a hit that took the air out of a team and city that was really beginning to believe.
3. Kenta Maeda forces Lucas Duda to fly out to center
Kenta Maeda was extremely close to committing a major no-no. With two on and two outs, Lucas Duda pinch-hit for the pitcher in the bottom of the 8th inning. Maeda fell behind 3-0, as Ronald Acuña Jr. loomed on deck representing the game’s tying run. The Dodgers set-up man was able to battle back before Duda launched a monster shot into the night sky down the right field line. It landed just foul. On the next pitch, Duda would fly out to center and the Braves’ threat was over.
This play may not sound that critical, but it was Atlanta’s final shot to salvage the series, and believe me, the whole stadium could feel it. Nobody in Dodger blue wanted to see Acuña up with a chance to tie the game. The way his season has gone, we might still be playing.
2. Max Muncy launches a three-run homer in Game 1
Mike Foltynewicz’s first postseason start was one to forget. It began with a leadoff home-run to Joc Pederson, but that was merely the beginning. After Folty somehow maneuvered his way out of more trouble in inning number one, a hit batsman and a walk led to a statement home-run by Max Muncy in the second inning. The big lefty hit a towering no doubter into the right-center field bleachers. A home-run that screamed, “Welcome to the postseason Baby Braves!”
1. Manny Machado’s three-run homer in Game 4
If there was a ever a play that took the air completely out of a stadium, it was this one. A 2-1 lead was fresh in Atlanta’s mind. Of course, Freese had just erased that lead with a two-out RBI in the inning prior, but the Braves very much still had a chance to force a Game 5. That was until Chad Sobotka met Manny Machado in the 7th inning with Max Muncy on 1st and Justin Turner on 2nd. Sobotka was able to get two strikes on Machado, but for some reason refused to go to an offspeed pitch. Finally, Machado found his pitch, and sent a 97-MPH fastball over the middle of plate soaring into the night sky. At that point, it felt like game, set, match, and it was.