Atlanta Braves peak at exactly the right time | News Today

Atlanta Braves peak at exactly the right time

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ATLANTA – In a sport that revels in the unpredictable, the Atlanta Braves were once a sure bet. With almost ruthless efficiency, they won their division 14 times in a row, a streak that began before Dansby Swanson was born and ended when he was almost a teenager.

By then, Swanson had mapped out his career path. As a boy in Marietta, Georgia, he only dreamed of playing baseball – and with luck, he might even do it for his favorite team. He made his wish come true in a surprise deal with Atlanta in 2015, just six months after the Arizona Diamondbacks drafted him first overall from Vanderbilt.

“Being traded here was probably the best thing that ever happened to me, to be able to be back home and be able to play for this city and just grow this community,” Swanson said late Saturday night after his hit. circuit. helped lift Atlanta to the brink of a World Series championship. “This moment means a lot. It really is.

Swanson’s moment came late in the seventh inning of Game 4 against the Houston Astros at Truist Park. He drove a Cristian Javier fastball down the right wall to tie the score, and Jorge Soler followed with a tight home run, taking Atlanta to a 3-2 win and a three-to-one lead. . Atlanta can claim the title at home in Game 5 on Sunday night.

“I’m happy for our city that they can go through this, experience this,” said manager Brian Snitker. “What a great time of year.”

Atlanta hasn’t been this close to the crown since 1995, the only season in that divisional title streak with a happy ending. Winning everything can be absurdly difficult; in the modern era of baseball, the franchise triumphed once in Boston (1914) and once in Milwaukee (1957) before its only title in Atlanta.

On Saturday, Swanson and Soler pulled off an equally rare feat. Only twice before have the teammates had consecutive draws in the World Series, most recently in 1981, with Pedro Guerrero and Steve Yeager of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

These players shared the Most Valuable Player in this Series award (along with teammate Ron Cey), but Swanson didn’t remember their names in the interview room after Game 4. He remembered them. others who have.

“Dude, on MLB Network they said it was the third time, and the other two, one of them was Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig in 1928,” said Swanson, as amazed as a veteran of the six-year-old major league can be.

“Baseball has been around for a long time, and for the third time, it’s pretty special. I feel like when you’re in this moment and you’re between the lines, your only thought is to win. So it is quite difficult to understand what just happened.

What is happening is an 88-game winning team culminating at just the right time, making big plays and critical throws that defy explanation.

Atlanta’s Game 4 starter Dylan Lee has pitched just two games in the majors this season, as has Kyle Wright, who relieved him with one out and goals loaded in the first inning. The Astros, with their thunderous offense, had several chances to win the game in a blowout. Instead, Wright reached the fifth with a deficit of just 2-0.

“Kyle is the reason we won the game,” Snitker said, but hitters and defensive players had to do just enough to make it possible.

They did, of course, because these playoffs Snitker’s squad is doing next to nothing wrong. After doubling up and scoring Atlanta’s first run in the sixth, Eddie Rosario made a backhand grab on the left field wall to steal Jose Altuve in the eighth. Unless you’ve seen Sandy Amoros in 1955 or Joe Rudi in 1972, you’ve probably never seen a better capture of a left fielder in the World Series.

“When Eddie turned to look at the fence, we thought – or at least I personally thought so – that the bullet had hit the fence or was gone,” Soler said, describing the sight of the dugout by an interpreter. “Then he kept running and threw the glove over there and managed to catch up with him, and we all looked at each other in amazement, like, ‘Did that really happen? It took us all by surprise, and it was really something of a movie.

Soler started this multi-part journey with a Game 1 home run as the very first hitter of the World Series. No one had done it before, but neither would any team have lost their Game 1 starter to a broken leg in the third set. This also happened in Atlanta, with Charlie Morton, and it will force Snitker to use another set of relievers to try and close the title in Game 5.

It sounds intimidating, but Atlanta has overcome more serious issues, such as losing its top player, Ronald Acuña Jr., to a torn anterior cruciate ligament in July. They traded for four outfielder – including Rosario and Soler – to fix that, and Snitker has a stable of problem-solvers in the reliever box as well.

The Atlanta relievers are averaging 1.61 earned runs in the first four games, and the Astros were particularly calm after the fourth inning. In Atlanta’s three wins – Games 1, 3 and 4 – Houston has scored just one run from the fifth inning.

“I can’t say enough about our reliever box,” Snitker said. “My God, I’m going to talk to the owners and send them all to Hawaii for a week when we’re done.”

As things are going, there might be a parade along the way.

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