Once again, the Atlanta Braves are playing in October and, once again, they are on the brink of elimination. The Braves trail the Los Angeles Dodgers 2-0 in the best-of-five series with Game 3 scheduled for Sunday evening in Atlanta.
Despite all the talent and the series shifting back home, the odds of coming back from a 2-0 series deficit are slim for the Braves. Only seven teams have come back from a 2-0 hole to win a divisional series.
As if the hill isn’t steep enough already, the Braves aren’t helping themselves either. Since the final weekend of the regular season, Atlanta’s offense has disintegrated, scoring one run over their last four games (36 innings) and no runs over the last 24 innings. They have just 13 hits over their last four games.
These guys want to do so well and that’s what happens in offensive slumps like this — everybody wants to be the guy — and they put so much pressure on themselves,” said Braves manager Brian Snitker.
“When you’re hitting and everything’s flowing and you get the line moving, guys are relaxed. They’re not feeling that. So it’s one of those things, we just have to relax and play our game.”
Since 1991, Atlanta has made 18 postseason appearances, five World Series appearances but only one title. This is familiar territory for the Braves, only Atlanta fans hope history doesn’t repeat itself.
BRIAN SNITKER Q&A
Are you still planning on (Kevin) Gausman on Sunday?
BRIAN SNITKER: No. We just talked to Alex (Wood). We had discussed other options … the situation is kind of dire right now. We need to win. Not that Gausman doesn’t give us that opportunity. We like how Sean Newcomb matches up with them and the success that he’s had against the Dodgers this year. So we’re going to let Newcomb get the thing off the ground.
How exactly did you tell Newcomb? Was it on the plane? Was it a phone call?
BRIAN SNITKER: I mentioned it to him on the plane when we were on the way just as something we were discussing. I didn’t want to just drop it on him. And then I called him this afternoon after Alex and I talked.
You have two days before Game 3. What’s the message. Do you change it?
BRIAN SNITKER: Yeah. These guys want to do so well and that’s what happens in offensive slumps like this — everybody wants to be the guy. And they put so much pressure on themselves. When you’re hitting and everything’s flowing and you get the line moving, guys are relaxed. They’re not feeling that. So it’s one of those things, we just have to relax and play our game. That’s easier said than done, especially when you’re facing the quality pitching … They know. I don’t know that I have to tell them any more about the situation that we’re in. And we just gotta win tomorrow. I’ve said all year, the most important game we’re going to play is today’s.
Yesterday you had the opportunity in the first inning to really get something going with Acuna getting a double. Is that an important key for you guys and then the next game getting on the board?
BRIAN SNITKER: Yeah, I think it was yesterday. I felt really good. That first pitch was riding around in the gap there, and Freddie smoked one, too. And I think that would have been a big lift for us, to get even a one-run lead yesterday. So, yeah, we just want to score. I mean, I think if we could come out early and put something on the board, it would be a big lift for all of us.
Is there something you want to see more from your guys’ AB’s?
BRIAN SNITKER: No. I think (Hyun-jin) Ryu had a little bit to do with — you know, we are a very aggressive 0-0 team. And I think he had a lot to do with that, just how he was spotting it up and changing speeds and the variety. The game plan yesterday was to jump on (Clayton) Kershaw … and didn’t happen. So I just think, we gotta be aggressive. We gotta take the safety off and start firing is the best thing that we can do.