After the Braves lost Game 3 in absolutely calamitous fashion, there were plenty of questions swirling around Atlanta’s camp heading into Game 4. Mainly, everybody was wondering how the Braves would respond to getting pulverized and also if Bryse Wilson would be able to give them anything as the starter for the next game. It was understandable to be concerned heading into last night’s game! The Dodgers proved that they are still a very good team and they were running out a starter who had historically made light work of the Braves in his career. So, how did the Braves respond in their first scenario of real adversity during the postseason?
Make that 6-1 now... WE CAN'T KEEP UP WITH THE BRAVES OFFENSE SORRY https://t.co/2PTpbvdYVE— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) October 16, 2020
The Braves added on four more runs after that tweet was sent, and finished the night with ten runs. The Dodgers only scored two after Bryse Wilson pitched the game of his life so far. Atlanta came a few runs away from dropping an Uno “Reverse” card on Los Angeles in Game 4. The Braves once again responded to a rough beating by turning around and doling out some punishment of their own in the aftermath. This team is one that won’t stay down for long, and they proved it once more with a fantastic performance at Globe Life Field in Game 4.
You can’t say enough about the performance that Bryse Wilson delivered last night. Going into this game, the longest outing that Wilson had delivered through out his career as a big leaguer so far was a six-inning stint against the Phillies on July 3 of last year. You could argue that his five innings of work against the Marlins earlier this season was probably the best that he’s looked in the major leagues. Still, those are the Phillies and the Marlins — those lineups can do damage, but not on the level of what the Dodgers can do. So naturally, Bryse Wilson matched the occasion with what is now undisputedly the best start of his career. Make no mistake about it — tossing six innings against this Dodgers team and only giving up one run on one hit is a massive achievement for any pitcher. For Bryse Wilson, it’s colossal. Should the Braves end up winning the Pennant tonight, we’re going to look back on that start as one of the biggest of this season and one of the more memorable starts in Atlanta’s postseason history.
The other star of the night was Marcell Ozuna. Coming into this game, Ozuna had been disturbingly quiet for this postseason. He was slashing at only a .200/.222/.343 clip, which was good for contributing to just 45 wRC+ and only one single homer, to boot. He was too quiet, which meant that he was due to break out at any point. Fortunately for the Braves, it came in a game where we all figured that they would need some run support. As it turned out, the pitching staff had things under control. It was still absolutely wonderful to see Marcell Ozuna have the breakout game that everybody sympathetic to Atlanta’s cause was waiting on. His game-tying homer in the fourth inning helped energize the lineup, who were only hitting singles off of Clayton Kershaw and nothing more to that point. Once Ozuna showed that Kershaw can in fact be human (against the Braves, at least), the floodgates soon opened. Ozuna’s second extra-base hit of the game was a double that made 3-1 Braves and was part of a massive six-run inning that turned the tide in Atlanta’s direction.
If Marcell Ozuna’s first homer was the boost that the Braves needed, his second homer was the dagger. After the Dodgers had a rally in the seventh inning end up turning into just one run, Marcell Ozuna wasted no time in getting that run back for the Braves as he crushed one to dead center field. Fittingly, Ozuna ended up putting the cherry on top of the ice cream sundae that was Atlanta’s offensive output during Game 4. He singled in the eighth inning to bring in the tenth and final run of the night for the Braves and capped off an enormous four-hit night. The Big Bear was out of hibernation, and he announced his return with a mighty rampage against LA’s pitching staff. A deep postseason run requires big nights like this, and it was great to see Marcell Ozuna deliver on this particular night.
Finally, another hat-tip goes to Brian Snitker and his bullpen management. This goes back to Game 3, when Huascar Ynoa stepped in to throw three good innings to do his part to help save the bullpen for the next game. That came in handy, since the Braves ended up having a relatively rested relief corps in tow for Game 4. When Will Smith stumbled out of the gate for the top of the seventh inning, Snitker did not wait around or just leave it to Smith to clean up his own mess. Instead, he brought in a high-leverage reliever in Chris Martin to deal with a high-leverage situation.
While Martin did give up the sacrifice fly, he also took care of business by getting the final two outs of the inning to leave the damage at just one run. Instead of having another furious rally from the Dodgers on his hands, Brian Snitker’s choice to go with one of his top relievers to nip the rally right in the bud ended up being a key decision for the Braves. Los Angeles only coming up with one run in that frame was what ended up making Ozuna’s homer such a dagger — they went through all of that work and effort to scratch across one run, only to see it evaporate almost immediately once the Braves returned to the plate. While managerial moments like that seem like a no-brainer to a lot of us fans who are watching, this one in particular is another example of Snitker doing a good job of evolving as a manager. We’ve seen times where he’s made the mistake of leaving a guy in for far longer than he should’ve been on the mound for. We saw no such mistake on Snitker’s part in Game 4.
Atlanta’s victory in Game 4 was exactly the type of win that they needed. While it wasn’t particularly shocking that the Braves bounced back quickly from a horrible defeat, it was still affirming to know and see just how resilient of a team that this is. One quote that comes to mind following Game 4 came from Freddie Freeman, who was asked by David Ortiz about how the team was feeling in the afternoon after that terrible, awful, no-good, very bad Game 3 (skip to 1:36 in the video):
Freddie Freeman is playing in his first NLCS and he is taking FULL advantage. #MVFree joined the show after the @Braves Game 4 win!@kevinburkhardt | @AROD | @davidortiz | @TheBigHurt_35 pic.twitter.com/uqtmVu6sJh— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) October 16, 2020
“There wasn’t much talking, to be honest with you. We had the music blaring...It turned into a dance-fest before the game started. Pablo [Sandoval] and Marcell [Ozuna] led it. Man, we had a blast. Even our clubhouse attendant was in there dancing, our head trainer, we had it going. We were real loose, it was a fun time before the game and we carried it right over into the game.”
That is exactly how you respond. The Braves haven’t gotten one game away from reaching the World Series by being a team that gets down on themselves when one game goes wrong for them. Instead, they remembered who they were, remembered that they were still in control of the series, and subsequently went into Game 4 feeling excited for the opportunity to play another game in the NLCS while being up. They looked adversity in the eye and danced right in front of it.
They did this while also taking care of business against a pitcher who has had nothing but success against them and a team that had just walloped them the night before. As a result of responding this well to adversity, the Braves are now close enough to the Pennant where it’s within striking distance. This crew has made it this far doing things their way, so why stop at this point? Let’s see them take it all the way.