Thursday, January 17, 2019

Braves Win in Dramatic Fashion, Up 3-1 in 96' NLCS

The Atlanta Braves are one game within reaching the 1996 World Series. Doug Drabek pitched a strong game for the Braves, allowing only 3 hits and one earned run through 7 innings of work. Drabek at one point, through 5 full innings was pitching a no-hitter.

The Braves' reliever Mike Timlin was not as effective as he would allow a two-run homer to the Expos' big slugger Barry Bonds, breaking up a 1-1 tie.

The Braves' pinch-hit Brian R. Hunter in place of the pitcher Russ Springer. Hunter would draw a walk off or reliever Jose Mesa, putting the tying run at the plate in Johnny Damon. The Montreal Expos would call on their closer to face Damon, John Franco in an attempt to even the series.

Damon would reach safely on a fielding error by Expos' second baseman Delino DeShields (Runners on 1st & 2nd). Chipper Jones would hit into a fielder's choice as the Expos get the out at second (Damon), while Hunter advances to third. Ryan Klesko, who has been clutch all year, hits a ball into the right-center gap, driving in Hunter, while Chipper would reach third.

Mike Kinkade, with one out, and a 1-2 count, would smack a liner into the left-center gap, scoring Hunter (tying the game), while Klesko reaches second. Kinkade, primarily a third baseman, came into the game to play out of position behind the plate, when Atlanta pinch-ran Deion Sanders. It was a gutsy call by manager Bobby Cox, but it eventually paid off. Kinkade has dedicated some of his practice time, taking reps behind the plate.

Jason Giambi would fly out to center to make it two outs, with Expos one out away from tying the series, while Klesko remained on second.

Brian McRae would step up to the plate, while already having a productive day with a Bases on Balls & RBI double back in the bottom of the 6th, which tied the game at the time. McRae, would find his pitch, hitting a line drive to deep center, while Klesko digged around third, and just making it under Darrin Fletcher's glove at the plate to be called safe. The Braves mobbed Klesko at the plate, while the Expos hang their heads in defeat.

Browne during his playing days with Cubs.
"We squandered opportunities," says 1st-year manager, former big leaguer Byron Browne. Browne took over the Expos after manager Tom Runnells' team fell short of the playoffs last year, after back-to-back World Championship teams in 1993 & 1994. Runnells (445-315, .586 pct) also won the N.L. Manager of the Year for three consecutive seasons (1992-1994). After being a bench coach for the Cincinnati Reds from 1993-1995, Browne led the Expos to 106 wins this season. Browne added, "We were an out away from evening this series, and that's the positive that we can try to take away from this loss, that the series is still very much alive."

The Expos and Braves have had quite the rivalry over the last few years. The Braves eliminated the Expos, 4-3, back in 1992, as the Braves advanced to the World Series only to be eliminated by the Minnesota Twins, who repeated. The Expos got revenge in 1993 by sweeping the Braves, while defeating Atlanta again in 1994, 4-1. Both teams didn't qualify for the postseason in 1995, while this season marks the 4th time in 5 years that these two teams have met in the National League Championship Series.

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