Braves: The top-five moments from the NLDS

Braves NLDS

This year’s NLDS was an exciting one for the Braves. And I say that not simply because the team advanced. Over the last four games, Atlanta and Milwaukee nearly went stride for stride the entire time as it felt as if every contest was seemingly decided by just one or two plays on offense. It was one helluva series, and fortunately, the Braves prevailed. Now it’s time to wait and see who the next opponent will be, as the Giants and Dodgers play their NLDS series finale on Thursday. Atlanta has thankfully punched its ticket to the National League Pennant, so let’s review the Braves top-five moments from the series that got them there.

 

#5. The equalizer by Rosario

Instead of waiting until the latter-innings, both Milwaukee and Atlanta decided to go ahead crank up the offense in the fourth on Tuesday. The Brewers struck first in their half of the frame when both Omar Narvaez and Lorenzo Cain punched line-drive singles to center to go up 2-0, but in the bottom-half, it was the Braves turn.

Austin Riley led off the frame with a single, but that base-hit looked like it would be wasted as both Adam Duvall and Joc Pederson popped out in foul territory. However, when Travis d’Arnaud drew a walk and eight-place hitter Guillermo Heredia was hit by a pitch in the following AB, manager Brian Snitker had to go for a score. Enter Eddie Rosario, who stepped to the plate with bases loaded and two outs. Quickly up against an 0-2 count by reliever Hunter Strickland, Rosario recovered and slapped a hopper into center field. Both Riley and d’Arnaud scored off the grounder, and just like that, the game was tied.

 

 

#4. The tone-setting gem by Morton

Entering this NLDS, I don’t believe there was much doubt that the ball was going to veteran Charlie Morton. With a big regular season performance and over 60 career innings of postseason experience on the mound, the 37-year-old was a safe bet to give the Braves their best chance at kicking off the series with a win. Morton didn’t get the W for Atlanta… but he kept Milwaukee offense quiet for essentially 99% of his outing.

With an efficient 66 pitches, the Braves starter struck out nine batters and lasted into the seventh inning before hitting a batter and surrendering his only real mistake of the game — a two-run homer off the bat of Rowdy Tellez. Losing Game 1, with the team’s top pitcher from the regular season, had us a bit worried. However, I firmly believe that his three-hitter last Thursday set the tone for the next two Atlanta starters. And oh yeah, Morton helped wrap up the NLDS by striking out five in 3.1 frames on Tuesday. Good thing this guy will be back next year!

 

#3. Mad Max at his best

I recently dove a little deeper into the last three seasons of Max Fried‘s ascent within the Braves starting rotation, sharing with you all how the 27-year-old lefty has managed to become one of the twenty-best starters in baseball — a level on par with the likes of both Clayton Kershaw and Yu Darvish. We all already knew that Fried was surging, but boy did he add an exclamation point to that narrative this past Saturday.

In the Braves 3-0 win over the Brewers in Game 2 last weekend, Fried set down ten of the first dozen batters he faced in an outing in which the southpaw allowed just three hits overall. For six innings, the Atlanta starter suppressed Milwaukee’s bats with his fastball and combination of breaking balls. By the time it was all said and done, Fried had put together perhaps the best postseason start of his career and tied his all-time best for punch outs in a single outing. I know momentum is a pretty controversial word, but Fried’s performance in that game was the beginning of three-straight wins for the Braves as the team went on to outscore the Brewers 11-4 in the final three contests.

 

#2. An appearance from Pearl Jam

It’s really a given at this point: Joc Pederson deserves to be retained by the Braves. And I wrote as much on Wednesday. His ability to impact the team while not even being included in the starting lineup for the first three games of the NLDS was pretty incredible. In case you missed it, I’ll explain…

Following a 2 for 2 start as Atlanta’s go-to pinch-hitter in Games 1 and 2, Pederson found himself again coming up in a big spot for the team after both Travis d’Arnaud and Dansby Swanson reached base to begin the fifth inning of Monday’s Game 3. With no outs, Joc delivered a blow that the Brewers simply couldn’t come back from.

That ambush of a swing by Pederson pretty much sealed the deal in regards to whether Joctober can be a thing in Atlanta, as fortunately for the Braves, Pederson has carried over his postseason magic from LA. Bring this man back for the 2022 season!

 

#1. The nail in the coffin by Freddie

The top moment from the Braves NLDS win is really a no-brainer — a storybook ending to the series for the team. Tuesday’s Game 4 between Atlanta and Milwaukee was exactly what postseason baseball is all about as both teams brought out the bats for the final contest.

The Brewers jumped out to a 2-0 lead in their half of the fourth. The Braves answered to tie it. Milwaukee scored two more in its half of the fifth. And again… Atlanta answered to tie it.

With a 4-4 game in the latter-innings, it was all going to come down to who could come up with the last big hit on offense. Both teams were cycling through their bullpens, and for the Brewers, the filthy Josh Hader was coming in for the eighth. First up for the Braves, Eddie Rosario went down swinging, and following him was Swanson, who struck out as well. Two up and two down… and the Milwaukee reliever appeared to be throwing his best stuff. However, Freddie Freeman evidently had somewhere to be, because he wasn’t messing around. The Atlanta first baseman swung at the very first pitch…

Perhaps this is a sign from the baseball gods that, yes, this dude belongs in Atlanta for the rest of his career. Freddie provided the Braves with the late-game offense they needed to outlast those pesky Brewers. It felt like a magical moment when it happened… as it does still today. Some how, some way, this team just keeps finding ways to win.

The Braves may not yet have an opponent for the NLCS, but with how they found a way to win the Division Series, I’m pretty sure we’re in for a helluva series starting this coming Saturday. More awesome moments to come!

Thanks for reading this article on the five best moments from the Braves NLDS triumph over the Brewers. If you want to read more articles like this, check out Clint’s piece on Joc Pederson returning to the Braves next season.

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