Heading into Friday night’s game, there was a noticeable nervousness across Atlanta Braves country. It was only game two but it felt like game seven. The Braves’ backs were against the wall in a must win game two. It may seem somewhat extreme, but it certainly is not.
The Braves would have had almost no shot at winning this series if they had lost game two. Trying to win three games in a row in a series is hard enough, but then you add playing two of those three games on the road, on top of having to face Kershaw again…….forget about it.
The Braves were in a must win game two and the players played like they knew this same thing. Mike Minor was absolutely phenomenal, throwing six and a third innings, giving up eight hits, one earned run, one walk, and five strikeouts. For a young pitcher with the weight of the entire season resting on his shoulders, it doesn’t get better than that. He was tested with some adversity in the first inning, but he settled down and was brilliant from then on out.
What also helped in this contest, the Braves being able to find their bats. It wasn’t an offensive explosion by any stretch of the imagination, but it was enough to get the job done. Would it help our blood pressure for the Braves to get some more runs and make you feel a little more at ease? Of it course it would, but that’s just not the Braves way of doing things in the postseason.
Now that we can all breathe a bit easier, since the Braves have evened the series, it’s time to focus on game three. To me, it is going to need to be another chapter out of the same book from Friday night. The Dodgers team is good and they aren’t going to beat themselves, most playoff teams don’t. So it is imperative that the Braves starters, in this case Teheran, are on top of their game. You have to match the Dodgers’ starters early and hope you can get into the Dodger pen at some point.
Stay patient as hitters and work the count in your favor. Ryu is not a strikeout pitcher so he will pitch to contact. Make the most of your outs, and moving base runners along, will be crucial for Atlanta. Don’t try and do too much, just be productive. Too many times in the playoffs, guys try to be the hero. Sure hitting a home run is more “sexy” than hitting a single the other way, but what is easier to do?
In my opinion, you have to play the percentages and do things that you may not be comfortable with in the postseason. For the Braves, that is as simple as hitting a single, instead of trying to go yard.
The Braves have the pressure on them, after giving up a game at home, but this is very doable for Atlanta. It is not going to be easy going to Dodger Stadium and winning, but nothing worth doing is easy. It is time for the Bravos to buckle down and carry the momentum from a game two win, to LA and turn it in to a game three win. If that happens, the Braves are back in the driver’s seat of this series. Which we could only hope would mean a playoff series win in Choptober!