ATLANTA – In a sport that enjoys the unpredictable, the Atlanta Braves were once a sure thing. With almost relentless efficiency, they won their division 14 times in a row, a string that began before Dansby Swanson was born and ended when he was almost a teenager.
By then, Swanson had charted his career path. As a boy in Marietta, Ms., only dreamed of playing baseball – and luckily he might even do it for his favorite team. He made his wish come true in a surprising deal with Atlanta in 2015, just six months after the Arizona Diamondbacks lured him as the first overall from Vanderbilt.
“Being swapped here was probably the best thing that ever happened to me to be able to go home and be able to play for this place and just grow this community,” Swanson said late Saturday night. , after he was home. helped lift Atlanta to the brink of the World Cup. “This moment means a lot. It’s true.”
Swanson’s moment came at the bottom of the seventh inning of Game 4 against the Houston Astros in Truist Park. Cristian Javier drove a quick shot over the right wall of the field and equalized the score, and Jorge Soler followed him with a good pinch of the home side that led Atlanta to a 3-2 victory and a three-game lead in the series. . Atlanta can take home the title in Game 5 on Sunday night.
“I’m happy for our city to be able to survive this, to experience it,” manager Brian Snitker said. “What a great time of year.”
Atlanta has not been so close to the crown since 1995, the only season in this series of titles in the division with a happy ending. Winning everything can be absurdly difficult; in the modern age of baseball, the franchise won once in Boston (1914) and once in Milwaukee (1957) before its only title in Atlanta.
On Saturday, Swanson and Soler rarely succeeded. Only twice before that did teammates in the World Series equalize and take the home side’s advantage, most recently in 1981 with Pedro Guerrero and Steve Yeager of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
These players shared the Most Valuable Player award for this series (with teammate Ron Cey), but Swanson did not remember their names in the interview room after Game 4. He remembered others who had done so.
“Man, on the MLB Network they said it was the third time, and the other two were one of them, Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig in 1928,” Swanson said, as excited as a six-year major league veteran can be. .
“Baseball has been around for a long time and the fact that this is the third time is quite special. I feel like when you’re in that moment and you’re between the lines, your only thought is to win. So it’s kind of hard to imagine what just happened. “
There’s a 88-win team that peaks at the right time, making great games and critical moves that defy interpretation.
Atlanta’s 4th game starter Dylan Lee has played just two games in major tournaments this season, the same as Kyle Wright, who relieved him with one outing and loaded bases in the first inning. The Astros had more chances to win with their thunderous attack. Instead, Wright broke through the heel with just 2-0 behind.
“Kyle is the reason we won the game,” Snitker said, but the shooters and players had to do enough to make it possible.
Of course they are, as the Sniker team is doing almost nothing wrong this similar season. After doubling up in the sixth and scoring his first Atlanta run, Eddie Rosario raced his hand along the left wall of the field and robbed Jose Altuve in the eighth. Unless you’ve seen Sandy Amoros in 1955 or Joe Rudi in 1972, you’ve probably never seen a better catch of a left-handed player in the World Series.
“When Eddie turned to look at the fence, we thought – or at least I personally thought – that the ball had hit the fence, or it was gone,” Soler said, describing the view of the ground with the help of an interpreter. Then he just ran away and threw a glove in there and caught it, and we all looked at each other in amazement, like, ‘Did this really happen?’ We were all surprised and it was something really out of the movie. “
Soler started this multi-part epic with Homer’s first game as the first hit of the World Series. No one has done that yet, and then it is assumed that neither team lost the starter of the first game to a broken leg also in the third exchange. This also happened to Atlanta, with Charlie Morton, and it will force Snitker to use another jump game to try to close the title in Game 5.
This seems daunting, but Atlanta have overcome more serious problems, such as the loss of their best player Ronaldo Acuña Jr. due to a torn anterior cruciate ligament in July. Four outside players have been swapped to solve the problem – including Rosario and Soler – and Snitker also has a problem-solving barn.
Atlanta’s relievers have an average of 1.61 games earned in the first four games, and the Astros were particularly quiet after the fourth inning. In Atlanta’s three wins – Games 1, 3 and 4 – Houston have scored just one run since the fifth inning.
“I can’t say enough about our bull,” Snitker said. “My God, I’m going to talk to the owner and send them all to Hawaii for a week when we’re done.”
Depending on how things unfold, a parade may be on the way.