The Atlanta Braves and Freddie Freeman will have another chance to complete the job that they were so close to completing a year ago.
It doesn’t matter that they won fewer games than any other playoff team.
Freeman scored an improbable tiebreaking homer against Milwaukee’s closer Josh Hader in the eighth inning. The Braves advanced in the NL Championship Series for second year in a succession, defeating the Brewers 5-4 on Tuesday night.
The Braves won the best of five Division Series by three games to one. They will now face the 107-win San Francisco Giants and the 106-win Los Angeles Dodgers for a spot in the World Series.
Freeman stated, “I’ve had many cool moments in my profession.” “I believe that this is going to be the best of them all. I hope it’s not my last and that there are a few more in these playoffs.
When the game was tied at 4, Hader was brought in by the Brewers to ensure it stayed that manner. Although the lefty was hard to throw, he struck out Eddie Rosario & Dansby Swanson. However, he couldn’t make it past the 2020 NL MVP.
Freeman was able to catch up with an 84-mph slider and launched a 428-foot drive into left-center seats. This was only the fourth homer of the season from Hader and the first since July 28.
Freeman was the first left-handed pitcher to hit Hader after Jason Heyward in 2020.
Freeman stated, “The first two men went down so I tried to get a pitch and he hung an slider and I put my swing on it.” There was no rhyme or reason.
Freeman had a wild celebration as he made his way around the bases. He returned to the dugout for a curtain-call, while the crowd of 40.195 cheered. ESPN Stats & Info stated that he became the first franchise player to hit a go ahead home run in the eighth inning, or later in a series-clinching win.
“When Freddie hit that ball I mean, my poise was shaken.” Ozzie Albies, a teammate, said that everyone in the dugout was going insane.
Will Smith pitched a scoreless ninth to earn his third consecutive save in the series. Christian Yelich was able to see strike three with a runner at first for the final out. Tyler Matzek won the game with a perfect eighth.
“Freddie!” Freddie! “Freddie!” the crowd chanted, as the Braves celebrated at the center of the field.
Despite their 88 losses, the NL East champion Braves will be returning to the NLCS for the second consecutive season.
Brian Snitker, the manager of his team, had a lead of 3-1 in series, but lost three consecutive games to eventual World Series champion Dodgers.
Atlanta hasn’t been to the World Series in 1999 and hasn’t won it since 1995.
This team, which was struggling to keep under.500 up until Aug. 6, managed to overcome so many obstacles to win its fourth consecutive division title in the last week.
The Braves had to trade Marcell Ozuna because of a season-ending injury and legal issues.
Freeman stated, “We have been feeling really good about ourself in the second half. We’ve also been playing really good baseball.” It carried over into the postseason.
The offenses were suddenly alive in the fourth inning after the Braves and Brewers combined for only nine runs over the first 30 innings.
The NL Central champion Brewers reached home for the first game since Game 1. Omar Narvaez’s RBI single and Lorenzo Cain’s RBI single ended a 22-inning streak of scoreless games. Narvaez’s hit also ended a streak of 0-for-20 performances by 95-win Milwaukee that had runners in scoring position.
The Braves rebounded in the bottom half. Milwaukee may have caught a big break on a deflected foul ball that was ruled a catch despite it appearing to touch the ground, but the Braves won the game. Eddie Rosario, pinch-hitter, delivered a two-out and two-run single to the center.
Milwaukee surged ahead in the fifth on Rowdy Tellez’s second two-run homer. The Brewers had scored their only runs in the series up to Tuesday with Tellez’s first homer, which he hit in Game 1. Huascar Yanoa’s second hit was a huge one, hitting into the fountain just beyond the center-field wall.
The Braves came back with another two-spot in the Braves’ half. Joc Pederson scored one with a forceout, and Travis d’Arnaud drove in another to bring home another.
Charlie Morton pitched only 3 1/3 innings, despite having three days rest. He gave up four hits and was charged by Milwaukee with the first two runs.
Corbin Burnes was the ace for the Brewers. He had won Game 1 against Morton. He was ready to play in Milwaukee’s Game 5.
The Brewers won’t be playing again until 2022, unfortunately.
Manager Craig Counsell stated, “We are all really disappointed.” “In the end we had big dreams. We didn’t get there. But we did win 95 games. They are a very special group. They accomplished some extraordinary things.”
Eric Lauer, Milwaukee’s starter, made his debut in the series but couldn’t make it past Morton. He pitched 3 1/3 innings and was also responsible for two runs and four hits.
If it weren’t for Adam Duvall’s popup, the Braves might have had a better inning in the fourth.
Snitker attempted to challenge the umpires, but they told him that only fly balls or line drives to outfielders are subject to video review.
The scoreboard declared that the call had been “Overturned”, but it was an operator error.
Even though replays showed the ball striking the ground just before Luis Urias, third baseman, took the deflection, the call was still made.
After testing positive for COVID-19, Jorge Soler, Braves right fielder/leadoff hitter, was immediately removed from the lineup.
Cristian Pache, an outfielder, took Soler’s place on the 26-man roster.
Swanson replaced Soler at the top. Pederson, originally scheduled to start in left-field, was moved to right. Guillermo Heredia, who was to bat eighth, was moved to center field. Duvall then switched from left to center.
Soler was one of the players that the Braves acquired prior to the deadline. During the regular season, he hit a combined.223 in Kansas City and Atlanta with 27 homers. He also had 70 RBIs.
Through the three first games against the Brewers, Soler only had one hit in eleven at-bats.
Brewers: Start the 2022 season at-home against the Arizona Diamondbacks March 31.
Braves: Saturday will open the NLCS, with Max Fried expected to start. The series would open in San Francisco if the Giants defeat the Dodgers. Los Angeles wins, Atlanta would host the first two games.