As another Major League Baseball season comes to an end, the Atlanta Braves celebrate their first championship since 1995. They closed out the Houston Astros Tuesday night by smoking them 7-0. Max Fried, Tyler Matzek, and Will Smith completely shut down the vaunted Houston lineup by striking out 10 and only giving up six hits. Max Fried more than atoned for his Game 2 loss by painting all corners of the strike zone for six strong innings. He confounded the Astros hitters to the tune of striking out six and not walking any. Matzek and Smith gave up only two hits in the last three innings to close it out.
Jorge Soler, series MVP, and midseason acquisition got the Braves going in the third inning by hitting a three-run homer. The fifth inning was a big one for the champs with Dansby Swanson homering and Freddie Freeman doubling to deep left-center scoring Soler. Then Freeman finished up the scoring in the seventh inning with a 416-foot solo home run.
One of the most intriguing storylines of this World Series is the redemption story of the Braves. For the past 30 years, they’ve had great times, but also way too many agonizing moments. They won 14 straight division titles from 1991-2005, and five more in 2013 and 2018-2021. They won the NL pennant in 1991, 1992, 1995, 1996, 1999, and 2021. Their 1992 National League Championship Series Game 7 victory against Barry Bonds and the Pittsburgh Pirates is perhaps the most exciting pennant winning game in MLB history.
In the bottom of the ninth inning, with Atlanta down 2-1 and the bases loaded, the Braves’ Francisco Cabrera cracked a two-run single that scored David Justice and Sid Bream. Bream famously slid to score the series winning run, beating the throw by Bonds who played left field. The Braves won the 1995 World Series breaking the curse that had been on all Atlanta professional sports teams. But this is where the good times end.
Apart from the 1995 exhilaration of winning, the World Series has caused unending pain to each person in the Braves organization and to all fans worldwide. The 1991 World Series was agonizingly long with five of its games decided by a single run, four decided in the final at-bat, and three going into extra innings. In Game 7 the Minnesota Twins won 1-0 after a serious mistake on the Braves part. In the eighth inning, Braves lead off hitter Ozzie Smith could’ve easily scored, but was confused about who had the ball and squandered his opportunity. The Twins finally won the series in 10 innings with their starting pitcher, Jack Morris, going all 10.
The heartache continued next year for this team when they lost the World Series 4-2 to the Toronto Blue Jays. After winning in 1995, they were back in the World Series in 1996 against the Evil Empire New York Yankees. The series started with the first two games in New York and the upstart Braves were the team with more veteran players and more experience. They showed why by winning both games as rookie Andruw Jones became the youngest player to hit a home run in his first at bat in a World Series during the second inning of Game 1.
So the Braves looked like they were poised to win a second straight championship as they headed home to Atlanta with three straight home opportunities to close out the Yankees. But this wasn’t to be as Jim Leyritz sparked their comeback with backbreaking home runs. New York won the next four and sent the Braves home wondering what could’ve been. Then the Braves made it back to the series in 1999 only to be swept 4-0 by those same Yankees.
Heartbreaking year after heartbreaking year followed until this year. Atlanta is once again atop of the baseball world. All the past futility and frustrations have been washed away and hopefully, this is a springboard to many more championships for this talented team.
Article by: Chris Steele, iHearts143Quotes Team member