The Atlanta Braves are just one win away from bringing another championship home. It has been a storybook season for the Braves to say the least, but now that they are on the cusp of something very few people were dreaming about in July, they know the importance of finishing the job. They also are well aware of the pitfalls having come up short despite holding a 3-1 lead in the past. For Brian Snitker, it is all about taking it one game at a time which is how they have approached the entire postseason.
“I just want to win tomorrow. I don’t know how confident I am,” Snitker said when asked if there was pressure to close the series out in Game 5. “I’d rather be up three than down three, I guess, but I’ve been around too long to get ahead of myself.”
The Braves entered the series knowing that they would likely need a bullpen game in Game 4. However, by the middle of Game 1, they learned that they would need another in Game 5 as well after Charlie Morton was lost for the series due to a fractured fibula.
Dylan Lee struggled as an opener in Game 4 but Kyle Wright came up big allowing just one run over 4 2/3 innings of relief keeping the Braves within striking distance.
“Very proud of our guys always. I’ve been very proud of our guys since April, quite honestly,” Snitker said of the bullpen. “We came out of this, obviously, okay. We won the game because I think Kyle Wright had a huge spot in this. Chris Martin. Then we got it to Matzek and Luke and Will, and that’s kind of what I was working for.”
“I was kind of working to get through the fifth inning so we could give it to our guys, and we did that. Hat’s off to our guys that did that, especially Kyle,” Snitker added. “I’ll be honest with you, I don’t know what direction we’re going to go tomorrow yet.”
The Braves will wait until Sunday to determine a starter for Game 5. Wright, who threw 75 pitches, is likely to be the only pitcher that is unavailable. Chris Martin, Tyler Matzek, Luke Jackson and Will Smith allowed just two hits over the final four innings in what was just another dominant performance by the bullpen crew.
Atlanta trailed 2-0 until Austin Riley singled home Eddie Rosario in the sixth. Astros reliever Cristian Javier, who hadn’t given up a run in the postseason, entered the game in the seventh. Javier struck out Adam Duvall to begin the inning and jumped ahead of Dansby Swanson 0-2. He followed with a 95 mph fastball on the outer half that Swanson drove over the brick wall in right for a game tying home run.
“It’s like I’ve been waiting for Dansby to do a Dansby-esque type thing, which the kid likes the moment, I know that. He has for as long as he’s been here,” Snitker said of Swanson.
Snitker then sent Jorge Soler to the plate as a pinch-hitter and he jumped on a hanging 2-1 slider and lined it out to left that was just out of reach of Astros left fielder Yordan Alvarez.
“It makes me feel good that, when we’re in this National League game, and the one I don’t play is a really good bullet off the bench,” Snitker said of having Soler available as a pinch-hitter. “Whether it’s been Soler or Joc, and they’ve all done unbelievable damage in this postseason. It’s not an easy thing to do because these guys were kind of everyday players, and coming off the bench is one of the hardest things you do in our game, but those guys have made a huge impact in our postseason when they haven’t played, or started.”
We have gone on and on about the job that the Braves’ trade deadline additions have done. In addition to Soler’s blast, Eddie Rosario had two hits giving him 23 in the postseason which ties him for the second most in franchise history with Marquis Grissom. Grissom holds the franchise record with 25 hits in 1995 and had 23 in the postseason in 1996.
Throughout the postseason, Snitker has talked about how his core group has grown and matured over their four consecutive trips to the playoffs. They aren’t going look past anything but now have three chances to bring a championship back to Atlanta.
“They’ll handle it great,” Snitker said of his team. “I’m happy for our city that they can go through this, experience this. What a great time of year. For the city, the Braves Country, to experience all this, for our players to experience it, it’s a win-win situation.”