The Braves just keep on perfecting their postseason formula for success.
Work in and out of trouble on the mound, stranding runners and squelching opponents’ chances.
Use their bullpen early and often, leaning on a group that has affectionately nicknamed themselves the “Nightshift.”
Then — especially in games at Truist Park — wait for some late-inning magic at the plate.
It worked in the division series against the Milwaukee Brewers, winning the clinching game on Freddie Freeman’s eighth-inning home run.
It worked against the Dodgers, when they took control of the series with back-to-back walk-offs in the first two games, building an edge the defending champions couldn’t overcome.
And on Saturday night, in front of the largest playoff crowd in their ballpark’s history, it worked against the Houston Astros in Game 4 of the World Series too.
After trailing for the first six innings, the Braves surged in front in the bottom of the seventh on back-to-back home runs by Dansby Swanson and Jorge Soler, holding on to win 3-2 and move within one victory of their first championship since 1995.
The Braves had never hit back-to-back home runs in their World Series history before Saturday, when Swanson tied the score at 2-2 with an opposite-field blast and a pinch-hitting Soler sent a 107-mph laser just over the short fence in left.
But then again, the Braves have never had a team quite like this one either, which won only 88 games in the regular season, lost its best hitter in Ronald Acuña Jr. and one of its best pitchers in Mike Soroka to injuries, and was under .500 for the first four months.
Down the stretch of the regular season, however, they caught fire. And so far this October, they haven’t cooled off, taking a three games-to-one lead in the Fall Classic with another home game Sunday.
The Astros had chances to put Saturday’s game away early.
Braves rookie opener Dylan Lee loaded the bases in the first. But reliever Kyle Wright was summoned and allowed only one run. The Astros had the bases loaded again in the third, but elected to let pitcher Zack Greinke hit with two outs. He rolled into a grounder that retired the side.
In this series, the Astros are just four for 31 with runners in scoring position. Overall this postseason, Braves pitchers are holding opponents to a .172 batting average in such situations — one of the keys to their
NLCS triumph over the Dodgers.
Greinke was sharp for the Astros in a scoreless four-inning outing — his first scoreless postseason start since a 2014 NLDS game with the Dodgers — and exited with a 2-0 lead after José Altuve hit a solo homer in the top of the fourth.
But the Astros bullpen couldn’t finish it off.
The Braves cut the deficit in half in the sixth on an RBI single from Austin Riley. An inning later, Swanson and Soler put a charge through the 43,125-person crowd.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.
Source: Yahoo Sports