Will 2019 finally bring the Braves a postseason series win?
The Braves may have been known as the team of the 90’s. However, since 2000, the postseason hasn’t been so kind to Atlanta. The last playoff series win for the Braves took place in 2001 during the NLDS against the Houston Astros. Think about that. Mike Soroka, Ozzie Albies, Austin Riley, & Ronald Acuna Jr. weren’t even five years old. The Braves have lost nine consecutive playoff series (if the 2012 Wild Card game is counted). All this being said, will the playoff misfortune finally end for the Braves this year? Before answering that question, let’s look back on some of the most memorable Braves playoff moments since ’01.
2003 NLDS (Lost series to Cubs 3-2)
The Braves came into this series as the top seed in the NL with a 101-61 record. Many believed Atlanta would meet San Francisco in the NLCS. However, neither team would make it past the first round. The Cubs would be led by Kerry Wood into game 1 at Turner Field and steal a victory, while holding the Braves to three hits. The two teams would continue to alternate wins throughout the series. Finally, the Cubs took game 5 from the Braves in Atlanta by a score of 5-1, with Kerry Wood getting his second victory of the series at Turner Field.
2005 NLDS (Lost series to Astros 3-1)
The Braves came in as the NL East champs and would be taken down by a wild card team. However, it was game 4 of the series that most fans remember. Atlanta had a commanding 6-1 lead going into the bottom of the 8th. Fans were prepared for a game 5 at Turner Field. The Astros had other plans. Houston scored four in the eighth and one in the 9th to force extra innings. Great pitching was showcased in innings 10-17. Finally, in the bottom of the 18th inning, Chris Burke broke the tie with a walk-off home run to give the Astros a 7-6 win.
2010 NLDS (Lost series to Giants 3-1)
This would be Bobby Cox‘s final playoff appearance as manager of the Braves. Each game in this series would be decided by one run. The series started in San Francisco where the Braves split the first two games. Then, when the Giants came to Atlanta, the Braves couldn’t find a way to win. Game 3 was the game that most will remember. The Giants won by a score of 3-2. However, 2 of the runs were unearned. Braves player, Brooks Conrad, infamously made three costly errors, with one being in the 9th inning. This wasn’t the ideal way for Bobby Cox to leave baseball.
2012 NL Wild Card Game (Lost game to Cardinals)
No Braves fan will ever forget this game. This was the first ever one-game wild card playoff game in MLB history and it couldn’t be played without drama. Turner Field was electric after the Braves took an early 2-0 lead. The Cardinals would strike back and take a 6-3 lead into the bottom of the 8th. The infamous “Infield Fly” call was made when Andrelton Simmons hit a ball into shallow left field. If the call had not been made, would the Braves have won this game? It is still debated in Atlanta today. The game had to be delayed in the 8th because of fans littering the field with trash. This was a tough loss in Atlanta.
2018 NLDS (Lost series to Dodgers 3-1)
The Braves were the underdogs from the start of the 2018 season. Not many, if any, predicted the Braves to make a playoff appearance. The first two games took place in L.A. and the Braves struggled mightily. The Braves were outscored 9-0 in games 1 and 2. Game 3 gave Atlanta fans hope. Ronald Acuna Jr. hit a grand slam in the 2nd inning to put the Braves up 5-0. The Braves would win this game. However, the Braves would be eliminated in game 4 due to sloppy bullpen pitching.
Will the 2019 postseason be different for the Braves?
This is arguably the most complete Braves team since the 1990’s. The offense doesn’t have a weak spot. The starting pitching is made for the playoffs (Keuchel, Soroka, & Fried) and the bullpen has experienced veterans. One could argue this is the best chance for the Braves to make a World Series win. There is no guarantee that Keuchel or Donaldson will be on the team next year and losing those two would be significant losses.
Overall, Atlanta is ready for a playoff series victory. That being said, 2019 should finally be the year to reverse the nine straight postseason series losses. The Braves are built to win and contend with any team in the MLB. Look for the Braves to get a playoff series victory and maybe even a World Series title this October.