The Braves played an incredibly long, agonizing game against the Reds to begin the Wild Card round, but emerged from game one with a series lead. So often the Braves have been on the wrong end of games that end with pressure-packed situations, that impending doom seemed to await the club as each extra inning saw the Reds put runners on base. Credit to the Atlanta bullpen as they worked six scoreless innings in relief of Max Fried, allowing the beleaguered Braves offense a thirteenth opportunity to earn victory. These games rarely favor Atlanta sports teams, so a win feels extra gratifying.
This game was painstakingly long and included so, so many awful at-bats from the Braves, but the home team outlasted the Reds. The club managed to earn a series lead, setting themselves up for a possible series victory on Thursday.
When Freddie Freeman lined a walk-off single to center field, it felt like a demon had been exorcised. Sure, it’s only the first game and the Braves offense looked awful, but victory has always seemed to elude Atlanta in similar games. Freeman fell behind in the count but managed to get the best of a tough left-hander in a huge situation. Emerging from this game with a win has to be a huge confidence boost for the Braves.
Like I said, this felt like exorcising a demon. The Braves have been so unlucky in the past, but this time luck sided with Atlanta.
Here’s the reality: The team that hasn’t won a playoff round since 2001 took a huge step toward the National League Division Series on Wednesday. They won on a day when the opposing pitcher was as good as any opposing pitcher – Morris, Pettitte, Livan, Livan’s brother El Duque, the Big Unit, Lincecum, Kershaw – has ever been against them in a postseason game. They got nothing off the Reds’ Trevor Bauer. They won anyway.
Somewhat surprisingly, the Braves opted to carry Cristian Pache, Pablo Sandoval, and Charlie Culberson on the playoff roster. This decision loomed large, as Pache would score the winning run in the 13th inning after pinch-running for Nick Markakis.
Why, because you finally won something without cheating? Nobody respects anything about the Astros, so enjoy your win and shut your mouth.
The A’s earned a win over the White Sox to force a third game.
The Marlins surprisingly jumped out to a series lead against the Cubs.