Starting the postseason without their slumping starting second baseman, Dan Uggla, the Atlanta Braves (0-1) struggled to keep pace with the Los Angeles Dodgers (1-0) falling 6-1 in Game 1 of National League Division Series.
Despite hitting 22 home runs this season, the fan favorite Uggla, was left off of Atlanta’s post season roster. A late season skid by Uggla ended up becoming critical in Braves Manager Fredi Gonzalez’s final decision for the lineup.
With a .179 batting average, Uggla had the lowest among major league hitters this season. Not only was it the worst in the MLB, Uggla’s batting average was the worst of all time for a second baseman with at least 500 plate appearances.
Other than a few other missing players from the roster, fans seemed celebratory nonetheless to be back in the playoffs.
Signs around Turner Field could be seen taking jabs at the recent government shut down, for the last time such an occurrence happened was in 1995, when the Braves last won the World Series.
This would be the first meeting for both teams in the postseason since the 1996 NLDS, where the Braves took the series in three games. Although Atlanta took the season series 5-2, Los Angeles has won six consecutive Division Series games dating back to 2008.
The excitement was also seen on the field. For players like Chris Johnson, it was all smiles before the first pitch was thrown, but for veterans like Jason Heyward and Brian McCann, idle looks were present and it was back to business on the quest to bring the World Series back to Atlanta.
“Beat LA, Beat LA, Beat LA”
Screams from the stands of 43,021 echoed throughout the game.
The chants seemed similar to the cries once heard in the Boston Garden from Celtics fans in the 1980s.
Just ask LA Dodgers partial owner Magic Johnson, who recently came out on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno stating he’ll wear a Dodgers speedo if they win the World Series.
“Everyone is talking about the Dodgers,” the NBA legend told media before the game. “We want this to be the happening place again. We want people to come out. Well, you can’t do that unless you win, and now everyone’s coming.”
The hall of famer and entrepreneur, who used to own several Burger King restaurants and movie theaters throughout the Metropolitan Atlanta area, recently celebrated the one-year anniversary of the opening of his first Magic Johnson Bridgescape Center Edgewood Ave.
The Magic Johnson Bridgescape Center is a program of Provost Academy Georgia (PAGA) where students from the ages of 14 to 20 who have left school, or are at risk of leaving, can obtain a high school diploma.
Los Angeles sent out left handed pitcher Clayton Kershaw to take on the Braves’ Kris Medlen on the mound in Game 1 of the National League Division Series.
Much talk before the beginning of the series had been on “The Big 3” that Los Angeles rolled into town with, Kershaw, Zack Grenke, and Hyun-Jin Ryu, arguably the best trio of pitchers in the MLB this season.
Kershaw finished the season 16-9, with an ERA of 1.83, the lowest mark by an MLB starter since Pedro Martinez in 2000.
With a fiery crowd behind him, all seemed well when Medlen started the game by throwing three strikeouts to the first three Dodger batters.
But that would be about the only positive thing for Atlanta.
The Braves offense struggled with Kershaw throughout the game, only seeming to find a slight solution to Kershaw’s fast ball at the bottom of the fourth inning after Chris Johnson put the Braves on the board after being down 5-0.
The Cy Young candidate would wrap the evening up with 12 strikeouts, including six straight in the fifth and sixth innings.
Atlanta is the only team in the National League that has not defeated Kershaw in his career.
“This one definitely has special meaning to me,” Kershaw said in a post game interview. “Strikeouts just kind of happen. It’s not something I’m trying to do, I’m just trying to get outs as fast as possible.”
The anguish that Atlanta fans were feeling from the loss could be seen around the stadium as the infamous styrofoam tomahawks could be seen thrown and floating down from the upper decks as fans began the pilgrimage to the parking lot.
“It just got away from us,” Braves catcher Brian McCann said.
Medlen lost the contest after four innings, nine hits, and five runs.
Friday’s projected starters for Game 2 of the NLDS will see Atlanta’s Mike Minor (13-9, 3.21 ERA) face off against LA’s Zack Greinke (15-4, 2.63 ERA).