Thursday’s 11-2 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 4 of the NLCS certainly wasn’t the result that the Atlanta Braves were hoping for. However, it was just one game and it is one that they will have to put behind them quickly when the series shifts back to Truist Park for the final two games. Freddie Freeman put Atlanta up 2-0 early with a first inning home run but this game was largely over by the time Max Fried exited in the fifth trailing 4-2. Three pitches later it was 6-2 and it spiraled from there.
Following the game, Brian Snitker was asked if he thought the loss would have any lingering effect on his team.
“No, no, I have no worries at all about anything like that. I think it will be good to get back home, and we got, it’s a tough row to hoe when we get home,” Snitker said.
Game 5 was a missed opportunity in that the Dodgers were going with a bullpen game and were facing Fried. The Braves will now have to come home and contend with Max Scherzer in Game 6 and Walker Buehler in a possible Game 7.
“These guys will come out on Friday and then Saturday and they will do like they did yesterday, they’re going to prepare, they’re going to give everything they got like they always do,” Snitker added.
If there was anything positive to come out of Game 5 for the Braves it was that they were able to rest all of their key bullpen arms. Atlanta closed the game with Dylan Lee and Jacob Webb covering the final three innings. This was the first game this postseason that Tyler Matzek didn’t pitch in. With Friday’s off day, all of the Braves’ key relievers will have had at least two full days of rest.
“When we got behind I wasn’t going to pitch the other guys. Those guys, we rode them really hard to get to where we’re at in this series and probably if we were one run down I wasn’t going to fire up any of those guys that we’ve been using until we tied the score,” Snitker said. “That’s why we have 26 guys, because we need everybody to play a part.”
Thursday’s loss was met with a collective sigh by the fanbase and you can’t really blame them. The Braves were in an identical spot last season with a 3-1 lead over the Dodgers in the NLCS and went on to lose the final three games of the series. That is something that isn’t lost on the players and they well aware of the narrative surrounding Atlanta sports in particular.
“I mean, it’s going to be the narrative it seems because every day it’s brought up the last couple days,” Freddie Freeman said after the game. “So I don’t think we have a choice until we kill that narrative. We’re up 3-2 and we’re going home. That’s a great position to be in.”
For all of the similarities to last season, there is one big difference. Games 6 and 7 will be played at Truist Park in front of what will no doubt be large and vocal home crowds. It won’t be talked about much, but the Braves were one pitch away in Game 3 from what would have been a sweep. Given their lack of success at Dodger Stadium, returning home with a lead in the series is still a great position.
“I would be, before, I would say I’ll take it,” Snitker answered when asked if he had been told before the series that he would have a 3-2 lead heading into Game 6 would he take it. “I mean, we got to win one of two games. If we can’t, then we don’t deserve to be the next, but I like our chances. We got two starting pitchers that are well rested and so this is what this NLCS is about. There’s two really good ball clubs and you got to play, you got to execute and everything in order to get out of this. So I like where we’re at.”
Now all the Braves need to do is go out and kill the narrative.