1991 Atlanta Braves Season Retrospective

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April 14, 1991
Atlanta Braves 12
Cincinnati Reds 1
2-2


The Cincinnati Reds won the World Series last year largely on the performance of a stout bullpen known as "The Nasty Boys" that shortened a number of contests from 9 to 7 or even 6 innings before Lou Piniella brought in his three gunslingers - Norm Charlton, Rob Dibble, and Randy Myers. But having that elite level of bullpen requires the starters to get to the late stages of the game with a lead, and the Reds have now dropped three games in a row where they fell too far behind, the latest a 12-1 rout at the hands of the Atlanta Braves on Sunday afternoon at Riverfront Stadium. It's early in the season, but the concern is that the Reds lost all three games after letting the other team score and being unable to do much about it.

The score is a bit misleading since although Atlanta played the better game, it was not 11 runs better than the Reds. Or maybe not. The Reds made three errors plus threw a wild pitch and had a passed ball, but the Braves left seven runners on base in their twelve-run barrage, and they may have found a new formula that involves a lot of base stealing on behalf of new outfielder Otis Nixon, who was 2 for 4 on steal attempts and drove home two runs with the bat.

Nixon led off the game with a walk off Reds starter Tom Browning, stole second, and then was thrown out attempting to steal third. The Braves were retired without doing any damage, so the easy out appeared to be the latest in a long line of Atlanta mistakes. Two singles and an error in the bottom of the first scored Bill Doran to give the Reds a 1-0 lead, but three straight singles by Jeff Blauser, Greg Olson, and the light-hitting Rafael Belliard scored Blauser with the tying run in the Braves next turn at bat. The game settled into routine outs until the top of the fifth, when Olson, the Braves' lone All-Star in 1990, singled to short and moved up on an error that put Belliard at first. An infield single by Braves starter Tom Glavine loaded the bases for Otis Nixon, who grounded into a fielder's choice that forced Glavine at second but scored Olson to give the Braves the lead. Nixon stole second and then Mark Lemke's sacrifice fly to center scored Belliard to give the Braves a 3-1 lead. The Braves added another run to chase Browning in the seventh, when Olson singled, went to second on an error, and then scored on a Nixon single. Doug Sisk came in to get an out but was replaced by Mike Stanton to close out the inning. When Don Carman came on in relief in the eighth, the Braves unleashed a barrage of hitting and offense that shows great potential going forward.

Lemke ripped a double to start the eighth, Gant walked, and David Justice reached on an error by Todd Benzinger to load the bases with nobody out. Sid Bream singled Lemke home, giving Carman the hook and bringing in Ted Power. Bobby Cox countered by sending Jeff Treadway up to pinch-hit for Jeff Blauser, and the former Red grounded into a 1-2-3 double play that left left Bream and Justice at second and third. It appeared Power would get out of the inning, particularly when Tommy Gregg pinch-hit for Olson. The Reds walked Gregg to get to the weakest bat in the lineup, and Belliard made them pay yet again, smacking a single that drove home both Justice and Bream, with the lumbering first baseman safe after Joe Oliver's error on the throw. With the score 7-1, the game was as good as over. Except, of course, it wasn't.

In the ninth, the Braves teed off on new reliever Tim Layana, who "took one for the team." Nixon and Lemke singled and after coaxing a fly out from Ron Gant, Layana watched helplessly as a passed ball by Joe Oliver moved the runners up to second and third. Justice singled to score both runners, Bream walked, Treadway singled to score Justice, Layana threw a wild pitch that moved the runners to second and third, and with a 10-1 lead, the Braves let pitcher Marvin Freeman enjoy the rare treat of batting himself. Freeman grounded out to second stranding the runners, but the light-hitting Belliard got his third hit of the game and drove home two more runs to cap a 12-1 rout and send the Braves back home for a three-game series with the Houston Astros and a 2-2 record after two series. Tom Glavine went six innings and got six strikeouts while surrendering just one run first-inning run in the win.
 

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April 15, 1991
Houston Astros 3
Atlanta Braves 1
2-3
3 games behind


If the Atlanta Braves could just play every game on the road, it appears they might well be the only undefeated team in major league history. Unfortunately, the Braves are still "0 for Atlanta" tonight as the bullpen wasted a stellar effort by Braves top starter John Smoltz and cashed in yet another defeat, 3-1. It was a typical Braves defeat, too: score in the first inning and go flat the rest of the game.

Carving out a bit of a positive reputation to accompany his negative one with his mouth, Deion Sanders again led off the game and sparked an early run by walking, going to third on a double by Mark Lemke, and scoring on a sacrifice fly to center by David Justice. Ron Gant walked, and the Braves' hope for a big inning was gone moments later when Francisco Cabrera hit into a 5-4-3 double play that ended the bottom of the first. And thus began an excellent pitchers duel between Smoltz, the 1989 All-Star, and Jim Deshaies, who has been seemingly one developed pitch short of being one of the finest pitchers in the game for five years now. There was no more scoring until the sixth when Astros catcher Craig Biggio took Smoltz deep on a home run that tied the game. The Braves, though, had no offense this game, getting only five hits - three of them by catcher Mike Heath, one (again!) by the flyweight Rafael Belliard, and the other by Lemke. The big guns in the Braves lineup went hitless, though Justice did drive in Sanders with the Braves' one run.

The game went into the ninth scoreless with Braves reliever Kent Mercker working his second inning, and the Astros finished him off. After retiring Biggio and Luis Gonzalez, Mercker surrendered a single to Ken Caminiti and a two-run bomb to Jeff Bagwell that put the Astroes in the driver's seat, 3-1. The most that can be said is that once again even though the lost, the Braves didn't go quietly.

After a Sid Bream groundout, Astros manager Art Howe called new closer Curt Schilling in to finish the contest. After getting Blauser to line out to left, Schilling gave up a triple to Mike Heath, which brought the tying run to the plate in the person of reserve outfielder Tommy Gregg, who was sent up to pinch-hit for the hot-hitting Belliard. One may quibble with the decision, but Belliard wasn't going to homer. Neither did Gregg, who flied out to center to end the game as a 3-1 Houston triumph, making a winner of short reliever Al Osuna and giving Schilling his second save of the season. Mercker took the loss while Smoltz (like Deshaies) pitched well to earn no decision.

Although the Braves currently have a 2-3 record, they are playing better ball that in previous seasons. In two of the three losses, the Braves have had the tying run at the plate to end the game, certainly a better performance than has been seen from this team in eight years.
 

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April 16, 1991
Atlanta Braves 10
Houston Astros 4
3-3
2 games behind


The Atlanta Braves just might want to get baseball to mandate that games start in the 7th inning. Six games into the season, and the Braves have scored 36 runs. Twenty-one of those 36 runs have come in the seventh inning or later, including nine tonight that turned a 4-1 deficit into a 10-4 Braves triumph that made got middle reliever Doug Sisk his first win as a Brave and bailed out a lackluster start by lefty Charlie Leibrandt.

The first three innings saw little action save for yet another Deion Sanders walk to start the first followed by a steal of second that resulted in no damage, but in the top of the fourth, the Astro bats came around. Luis Gonzalez doubled and then scored on a two-run bomb by Jeff Bagwell. A Mark Davidson single to left was misplayed by Sanders into an error that put Davidson at second, where he scored when Casey Candaele doubled him home and put the Astros ahead, 3-0. The Braves got one back in the fifth when Heath singled and Belliard walked to bring up Leibrandt. Given he had already surrendered seven hits, Bobby Cox pulled Leibrandt and sent up Tommy Gregg to make another out, er, well that's what he did. Sanders then singled home Heath to cut the Astros lead to 3-1. In the seventh, Candaaele again got the Braves, doubling off reliever Jeff Parrett and then scoring on a Craig Biggio single to make it 4-1.

That's when the Braves bats suddenly came to life.

With Pete Harnisch pitching a gem thus far and one out, Otis Nixon pinch hit for the currently hot Belliard and coaxed a walk. Jerry Willard went to bat, which brought Al Osuna out of the bullpen, so Cox countered with Jeff Blauser, who singled. A single from Sanders scored Nixon and sent Blauser to second. Terry Pendleton pinch hit for Jeff Treadway and lined a single to right that loaded the bases. The Braves then got a run that should have been more. Ron Gant's grounder to third forced Sanders at the bag but scored Blauser. A passed ball by catcher Craig Biggio put both runers in scoring position and got David Justice an intentional walk. With the bases loaded and two outs, Sid Bream failed in the clutch when he popped to the catcher. The Braves had cut the margin to 4-3 after 7 but blown multiple chances.

Then in the bottom of the eighth, the roof fell in on the Houston Astros, and Fulton County Stadium doesn't even have a roof.

Reliever Dwayne Henry started the eighth by giving up a single to Mark Lemke but then retiring Mike Heath on a fly to left. Xavier Hernandez then came in to face Greg Olson, who was pinch-hitting for Sisk. Olson singled Lemke to third, Blauser singled Lemke home, and Sanders walked to load the bases in a 4-4 game. Hernandez got the hook and Astros closer Curt Schilling came into the game to put out the fire. Schilling instead turned the burning rally into a raging inferno, giving up a double to Pendleton that sent all three runners home, a double go Gant that scored Pendleton, walked Justice intentionally, and then gave up a third double in four hitters to Sid Bream that scored both Gant and Justice and put the Braves in an insurmountable 10-4 lead. Schilling was replaced by Darryl Kile, who got out of the inning without further damage as if any would have mattered. Juan Berenguer got the call for the ninth and his 1-2-3 effort made the Braves a winner at home for the first time this season. Sisk, as noted, got his first win as a Brave while Hernandez took the loss that probably would have been better assigned Schilling.

The only off-the-field news is that Atlanta signed pitcher Greg McMichael as a free agent.
 

selmaborntidefan

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April 17, 1991
Houston Astros 4
Atlanta Braves 3
3-4
2 games behind


Steve Avery pitched his first big league game since becoming old enough to have a legal beer, and it's likely that he had more than one after his first inning performance put the Braves in a hole they couldn't quite climb out of en route to losing the three-game series to the Astros in a narrow 4-3 loss. Avery's failure to retire Ken Caminiti in the first turned a potentially scoreless inning into a quick 3-0 Houston lead, and the Astros never relinquished it, although the Braves fought gamely the entire night. A walk to former Brave Rafael Ramirez and a single by Craig Biggio brought up Caminiti with two outs in the first. Caminiti singled as did Mark Davidson, and the Astros were off and running with a 3-0 lead.

But unlike other recent games, the Braves fought back quickly. Deion Sanders singled, stole second, went to third on a throwing error by Craig Biggio and then strolled home easily when Jeff Treadway homered to cut the Houston lead to 3-2. Avery settled in and made it to the fifth inning and an official start, but he left trailing and as the Braves never regained the lead, he wound up the losing pitcher of record. The Braves relief pitching did quite well; it was the defense of Jeff Blauser that undid an impressive effort by Marvin Freeman, Mike Stanton, Doug Sisk, and Jeff Parrett to try and capture the contest. With two outs in the Houston seventh, Luis Gonzalez walked and Blauser misplayed Caminiti's grounder that would have ended the inning. A Jeff Bagwell single to right scored Gonalez and made it 4-2. Blauser attempted to undo some of the damage with a solo shot in the bottom of the seventh, but he wound up making the last out of the game on a grounder to closer Curt Schilling, who got his third save of the season. Biggio is currently leading all hitters with a .438 average.
 

selmaborntidefan

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April 18, 1991
3-4, 5th place
2.5 games behind


Most of the major league teams had today off, with a total of twelve teams playing six games, four in the AL and two in the NL. The Braves are preparing to face the defending world champion Cincinnati Reds in Fulton County Stadium for a three-game weekend series. Friday and Saturday are night games while Sunday is an afternoon affair.

PROJECTED STARTERS (Visiting pitcher listed first)
Game 1: Jack Armstrong vs Tom Glavine
Game 2: Tom Browning vs John Smoltz
Game 3: Jose Rijo vs Charlie Leibrandt
 

selmaborntidefan

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April 19, 1991
Cincinnati Reds 8
Atlanta Braves 3
3-5
2.5 games behind


It was 70s night once again at Atlanta Fulton County Stadium, and all the earmarks of the Braves of the era: jump on a perceived much better team for a couple of runs early, go flat the rest of the game, give up cheap runs with walks and lousy defense, and wind up in last place in the standings before the end of April. The more things change in Atlanta, the more they stay the same. But only two teams - the 2-8 Minnesota Twins and the 3-7 Philadelphia Phillies - have worse records than the Braves at the ten game mark for nearly everyone else (the Braves, of course, have had two rainouts).

It was Jack Armstrong, last year's All-Star starter, back in early 1990 form after a rough patch at the start of the game. Armstrong surrendered a leadoff home run to Deion Sanders, who continues to sparkle in his first time to the plate and do nearly nothing else in his other at bats. Sid Bream joined Deion with a solo shot of his own in the second, and the Braves were quickly up 2-0 with Tom Glavine pitching effectively. The young lefty got through the Reds lineup without damage the first time; he didn't even come close to making it through the second time.

Barry Larkin led off the top of the fourth with a walk and went to third on an Eric Davis double. Glavine knuckled down to retire body builder Glenn Braggs on a short grounder to the mound and hold the runners, but then he hit Mariano Duncan to load the bases. A passed ball by Olson let Larkin score, and Glavine got so rattled he couldn't have found the strike zone even had he been using the laser guided bombs that recently won Operation Desert Storm. He walked Todd Benzinger and Joe Oliver, and then he walked to the shower and gave the ball to Marvin Freeman on his way out. Freeman was not much better than Glavine at finding the strike zone. He retired the pitcher (Armstrong) then hit Chris Sabo with a pitch to force yet another run and then walked Bill Doran to give the Reds a 4-2 lead. Larkin bounced out. Indeed, the Reds managed to push across four runs in the inning despite getting only one hit thanks to the generosity of the Braves pitchers.

The Braves nailed a third solo home run, this one from Ron Gant, to end the sixth trailing only 4-3. Despite pitching effectively in relief to this point, Jeff Parrett opened the seventh by surrendering consecutive singles to Doran and Larkin and giving way to Doug Sisk. Sisk coaxed a ground out from Eric Davis then walked Braggs intentionally. Sisk then accidentally walked Todd Benzinger to force in yet another run on a walk and give the Reds a two-run cushion at 5-3. Unlike Glavine and Freeman, though, Sisk limited the damage by striking out Joe Oliver. The Reds at this point had six hits, but they also had seven walks, two hit batsmen, and a passed ball. Then in the top of the eighth, the Reds put it all away.

Sisk, who has pitched effectively if not spectacularly this season, stayed in the game. He should have left. Hal Morris pinch-hit for Armstrong and greeted Sisk with a double. An error by the normally sure-handed Rafael Belliard on a Sabo grounder scored Morris. A walk to Doran and a single from Larkin that scored Sabo followed by a fielder's choice grounder that scored Doran when Treadway made an error closed out the runs for the evening. Undone by his fielders, Sisk got a ground ball double play to end the inning, but the game was over except for a few swings of the pine at this point. The Braves made six straight outs to end the contest and give Glavine his first loss of the season.
 

selmaborntidefan

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April 20, 1991
Cincinnati Reds 3
Atlanta Braves 0
3-6
3.5 games behind


The Atlanta Braves dropped their third game in a row this evening, wasting a courageous effort by John Smoltz, who pitched eight innings, gave up only two runs, and was saddled with his second loss in two decisions. Smoltz pitched into trouble, kept getting out of trouble, but he couldn't catch a break from his offense, who managed only four hits against Reds starter Tom Browning. After getting Chris Sabo out to start the contest, Smoltz gave up a walk to Paul O'Neill, who stole second and then scored on a Hal Morris single, Morris thrown out to end the inning on a 7-2-4 play to end the first. And though Browning was mowing down the Braves most of the evening, they still squandered goldn opportunities. In the bottom of the third, catcher Mike Heath led off with a double and moved to third base on a Rafael Belliard sacrifice bunt. The Braves had two chances to get Heath 90 feet, and both Smoltz and Deion Sanders struck out to leave him stranded. Perhaps the frustration got him because Smoltz immediately went out and gave up a home run to Barry Larkin that made it 2-0, Cincinnati. From that point on, both pitchers were on their game, although Browning was a little sharper than Smoltz on this night. The Reds got an insurance run in the ninth when closer Juan Berenguer gave up an immediate double to Morris, who went to third on a ground out and then scored on a bunt that Jeff Reed beat out for a hit. The Braves went quietly in the ninth to their third straight defeat that clinches the series for the Reds, who will go for the sweep tomorrow.
 

selmaborntidefan

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April 21, 1991
Atlanta Braves 3
Cincinnati Reds 2
4-6
2.5 games behind


Jose Rijo won the World Series MVP last fall with stellar pitching that held the Oakland A's at bay and surrendered but one run in 15 innings of work as the Reds won the World Series. He didn't pitch nearly that well today, and Charlie Leibrandt, who has a little World Series experience of his own, matched Rijo just enough to escape with a 3-2 win for the Braves that prevented a sweep early in the year from a team that has been a longtime nemesis early in the year.

Deion Sanders once again did Deion Sanders things - have a spectacular first at bat and then do nothing at the plate for the rest of the game. After Leibrandt worked his way out of trouble and stranded two Reds runners in the first, Sanders greeted Rijo with a triple and then came home on a Jeff Treadway sacrifice fly to center field to give the Braves the early 1-0 lead. But Rijo got the run back himself in the third when he singled, went to second on a walk to Sabo, moved to third on a beautifully executed sacrifice by Billy Hatcher and then scored on a fielder's choice grounder by Barry Larkin to tie the game at one. But small ball helped the Braves with two outs in the fourth when Terry Pendleton walked, stole second, and scored on a Greg Olson single that regained the lead, 2-1. The Braves then increased the lead when Greg Olson doubled to lead off the seventh and was replaced with pinch-runner Otis Nixon, who scored on a Rafael Belliard single. With things going his way and Leibrandt pitching well, Bobby Cox let the lefthander hit for himself, and he promptly did the one thing that could totally squelch the rally when he hit into an inning-ending double play. Still, the Braves now led, 3-1.

As if Leibrandt hadn't hurt himself enough, he promptly took the mound and gave up a two-out single to Glenn Braggs, who went to second on a wild pitch and then scored to narrow the gap to 3-2. But Leibrandt induced Todd Benzinger to line out to Belliard, and after a 1-2-3 bottom of the eighth, Kent Mercker came on to close out the win for the Braves, getting three outs around a walk to Jeff Reed. It was a win for the Braves but nothing to write home about as the Reds stranded no less than eight baserunners while the Braves only got five hits to add to their four-hit effort last night. Yes, the Reds pitching is very good, but the Braves had only 14 total hits in 26 innings against the Reds, an anemic offensive output that must improve if the Braves are to continue winning contests like this. The Braves now head out on a nine-game road trip that will take them to Los Angeles, Houston, and St Louis over the next ten days. With only one day off and six of the contests against the Astros and Cardinals, generally thought to be among the worst teams in the NL, the Braves need a winning road trip to indicate they're improving on past performances.
 

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April 22, 1991
Atlanta Braves 7
Los Angeles Dodgers 1
5-6, last place
2.5 games out


With leadoff batter Deion Sanders hitting .226 and most of his damage coming in his first at-bat of previous contests, Braves manager Bobby Cox opted to juggle his lineup a little bit tonight at Chavez Ravine, giving recent acquisition Otis Nixon his second start, and the base stealing specialist catalyzed an Atlanta offense that has at times been anemic so far in the opening weeks of the season. Although he grounded out to first to start the contest, Nixon wound up 1 for 5 with a walk, scored enough runs by himself to win the game (two), stole a base, and played stellar defense.

After Nixon bounced out to start the game against Dodgers starter (and losing pitcher) Bob Ojeda, four Braves - Terry Pendleton, David Justice, Francisco Cabrera, and Jeff Blauser - all singled to score Pendleton and Justice to give the Braves 2-0 lead before LA took their first swings. The Dodgers cut the lead in half in the bottom of the second when Eddie Murray went deep off of Braves starter Steve Avery, but the young lefty settled down and surrendered only one more hit during his six-inning start, a single to Brett Butler in the bottom of the sixth. By that time, Avery was in command of a solid 4-1 lead thanks to a Braves fifth that saw Nixon single to center, steal second, go to third on a fielder's choice grounder by Pendleton and then score on a single by Ron Gant. Gant promptly stole second and scored on Cabrera's single, which was enough to bring Dodgers reliever Tiim Crews in for Ojeda, where he promptly balked Cabrera to second. Once again in all too common occurence, the Braves squandered a huge offensive opportunity when Blauser walked, Crews wild pitched Cabrera to third and Blauser to second, Mike Heath walked - and Rafael Belliard, who has been one of the Braves' best hitters so far, grounded to third with the bases loaded.

The Braves handled prosperity better and put the game away in the eighth, though, when Jim Gott walked both Mark Lemke and Nixon, who each moved up a base on a Pendleton sacrifice. Gant's single scored Lemke but wasn't enough for the fleet Nixon to score on the play. Gant then stole second and both Nixon and Gant came home on a David Justice single that closed out the scoring and secured a 7-1 Braves win. Although the lead was too big for a save situation, Mike Stanton pitched two effective innings and Juan Berenguer closed out the game as the Braves only surrendered four hits on the night. The Braves themselves followed up a three-game series that saw only 14 hits against the Reds with 12 in one evening. At the same time, while seven runs is usually enough to win a game, the Braves also left a whopping twelves runners on base that could have turned the contest in a true rout earlier. The Braves and Dodgers will meet 15 more times this year.
 
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April 22, 1991
Atlanta Braves 7
Los Angeles Dodgers 1
5-6, last place
2.5 games out


With leadoff batter Deion Sanders hitting .226 and most of his damage coming in his first at-bat of previous contests, Braves manager Bobby Cox opted to juggle his lineup a little bit tonight at Chavez Ravine, giving recent acquisition Otis Nixon his second start, and the base stealing specialist catalyzed an Atlanta offense that has at times been anemic so far in the opening weeks of the season. Although he grounded out to first to start the contest, Nixon wound up 1 for 5 with a walk, scored enough runs by himself to win the game (two), stole a base, and played stellar defense.

After Nixon bounced out to start the game against Dodgers starter (and losing pitcher) Bob Ojeda, four Braves - Terry Pendleton, David Justice, Francisco Cabrera, and Jeff Blauser - all singled to score Pendleton and Justice to give the Braves 2-0 lead before LA took their first swings. The Dodgers cut the lead in half in the bottom of the second when Eddie Murray went deep off of Braves starter Steve Avery, but the young lefty settled down and surrendered only one more hit during his six-inning start, a single to Brett Butler in the bottom of the sixth. By that time, Avery was in command of a solid 4-1 lead thanks to a Braves fifth that saw Nixon single to center, steal second, go to third on a fielder's choice grounder by Pendleton and then score on a single by Ron Gant. Gant promptly stole second and scored on Cabrera's single, which was enough to bring Dodgers reliever Tiim Crews in for Ojeda, where he promptly balked Cabrera to second. Once again in all too common occurence, the Braves squandered a huge offensive opportunity when Blauser walked, Crews wild pitched Cabrera to third and Blauser to second, Mike Heath walked - and Rafael Belliard, who has been one of the Braves' best hitters so far, grounded to third with the bases loaded.

The Braves handled prosperity better and put the game away in the eighth, though, when Jim Gott walked both Mark Lemke and Nixon, who each moved up a base on a Pendleton sacrifice. Gant's single scored Lemke but wasn't enough for the fleet Nixon to score on the play. Gant then stole second and both Nixon and Gant came home on a David Justice single that closed out the scoring and secured a 7-1 Braves win. Although the lead was too big for a save situation, Mike Stanton pitched two effective innings and Juan Berenguer closed out the game as the Braves only surrendered four hits on the night. The Braves themselves followed up a three-game series that saw only 14 hits against the Reds with 12 in one evening. At the same time, while seven runs is usually enough to win a game, the Braves also left a whopping twelves runners on base that could have turned the contest in a true rout earlier. The Braves and Dodgers will meet 15 more times this year.
Just a weird question. Were the Braves- Giants and Braves-Dodgers bigger rivalries than what Braves-Mets have been since switching to the NL East
 

selmaborntidefan

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Just a weird question. Were the Braves- Giants and Braves-Dodgers bigger rivalries than what Braves-Mets have been since switching to the NL East
Braves-Dodgers, yes.

Braves-Giants, probably not.

Look at this:

1956 - with 3 games left, the Braves are 1/2 game up on the Dodgers; the Braves lose 2 of 3 and the pennant

1959 - the Braves and Dodgers wind up in a tie and have a best 2 of 3 playoff. Dodgers win both games and go on to win the World Series, this after the Braves win the 57 series and become only the second team to blow a 3-1 lead in the 1958 Series.

1982 - on July 29, the Braves lead the Padres by 9, the Dodgers by 10.5, and the Giants by 14. The Braves play EIGHTEEN STRAIGHT games against those three teams and go 2-16, including 0-8 against the Dodgers with three straight losses in extra innings. By the end of the 18-game span, the Braves are down by 1 1/2 games (and lose 3 more to Montreal, too). The Braves lose on the final day of the season, but the Giants knock the Dodgers out to avoid a playoff. The Braves then lose 3 straight to the Cardinals in the NLCS.

1983 - on August 15, Bob Horner breaks his wrist with the Braves leading LA by 5 1/2 games; the Braves wind up losing the pennant to LA by 3 just six weeks later.

1991 - trailing LA by 9 1/2 games at the ASG, the Braves rally and beat them out on the next-to-last day of the season.

The Braves and Dodgers had no fewer than five straight pennant races against each other; the Braves and Giants have really only had the famous one in 1993.
 
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selmaborntidefan

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April 23, 1991
Atlanta Braves 4
Los Angeles Dodgers 0
6-6, last place
2.5 games out


Tom Glavine pitched a gem, David Justice homered, and the Braves stole three bases en route to their third straight win, a 4-0 triumph over the division favorite Los Angeles Dodgers to assure the Braves will win their first series of the year no matter what happens tomorrow. Except for yet another continuing problem for Atlanta - leaving runners on base as they left another six - the Braves played an otherwise flawless game that saw Glavine go the distance and strike out ten Dodgers for good measure, five of them coming against the first three hitters in the Dodgers' lineup - Brett Butler, Stan Javier, and Darryl Strawberry. Glavine also did not walk a single hitter. Dodgers starter Kevin Gross ran into trouble in the fifth, and while LA got out with minimal damage, the game was pretty much over at that point.

Once again, Deion Sanders had a productive first at bat to lead off the game. Unlike his previous starts, however, he managed a later hit that drove in a run, but he also offset that by getting caught stealing in the top of first. Justice led off the second with a solo blast that put the Braves in front to stay. Sid Bream then walked and - to the surprise of almost everyone - attempted to steal second and was out by a mile. Bream walked in his second turn at the plate leading off the fifth and then held at third when a Greg Olson double put two Braves in scoring position with one out. Gross then walked both Rafael Belliard and Glavine to force in a run, ending the night for Gross as Tim Crews came on in relief. Sanders singled home Olson, but the throw nailed Belliard at the plate and Treadway grounded out to end the scoring at 3-0 in what could have been a bigger inning.

In the sixth, doubles by Ron Gant and Sid Bream stretched the Braves lead to 4-0. Crews walked Pendleton intentionally to set up a potential inning-ending double play, but the point became moot when Olson struck out and then Bream got picked off of second base, his second out on the basepaths with questionable base running. Glavine cruised to a 4-0 shutout win that lifted the spirits of Braves fans from coast to coast.
 

selmaborntidefan

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Just a weird question. Were the Braves- Giants and Braves-Dodgers bigger rivalries than what Braves-Mets have been since switching to the NL East
You can also probably include:
1) the controversial (and horribly wrong) selection of Hideo Nomo over Chipper Jones as Rookie of the Year in 1995

2) the Braves sweeping the Dodgers in the 1996 NLDS

Because they moved divisions and it's been awhile, any "bad blood" between the Dodgers and Braves has (mostly) subsided to the point the recent playoff wins by LA are less celebrated by the Dodgers than they are symbols of frustration for Braves fans.
 

selmaborntidefan

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April 24, 1991
Los Angeles Dodgers 8
Atlanta Braves 4
6-7, last place
2.5 games out


For the fourth time this season, Braves projected ace John Smoltz took the hill for the team. For the fourth time this season, Smoltz left without a win. And for the second time this season - both to the Dodgers - Smoltz failed to even stay in the game long enough to get the win had his team somehow won the game anyway. His continued erratic ways exemplify the Braves through 13 games - better than in the past but still nowhere close to a pennant. The Braves have spent exactly three days this year at .500 after Opening Day, but in each case they have failed to rise even a single game above that mark. Although the Braves fought back with effort, it was way too little and way too late.

But it should be noted Smoltz may not have been stellar, but he pitched out of jams, too, albeit with damage. He seemed to come unsettled when he walked Lenny Harris to open the game. Juan Samuel then forced Harris on a fielder's choice to second and moved to second on a Darryl Strawberry single. A productive ground out by Eddie Murray put both runners in scoring position with two outs, but a Kal Daniels single drove both home for a quick 2-0 Dodgers lead. A similar Dodger rally occurred in the second. Once again, Smoltz walked the leadoff batter, but this time the second runner - Dodgers pitcher Mike Morgan - got on base when Smoltz's error failed to retire him. Lenny Harris grounded out to the infield to again put runners at 2nd and 3rd again with two outs, and LA scored on a Samuel single, Morgan going to third. The Dodgers' prize free agent, Strawberry, came up with a chance to blow the game completely open, but Smoltz struck him out to end the inning in a 3-0 hole.

The Braves sliced the lead to one in the fifth on a single by Sid Bream, a Terry Pendleton walk, and a Mike Heath single that scored Bream. Desperate for runs, Bobby Cox pulled his defensive star shortstop, Rafael Belliard, and sent the normally unproductive Tommy Gregg to bat. Gregg forced Heath at second, Pendelton going to third, then tried to make up for it with a steal of second that had the Braves thinking "rally." Cox now pinch-hit for Smoiltz with Jerry Willard, whose infield groundout scored Willard's old high school teammate Pendelton, and with the chance for a tie or the lead, Deion Sanders struck out to end the rally.

Maybe Cox should have stayed with Smoltz, maybe not. But in the bottom of the fifth, the bullpen blew the game and quickly - long reliever Marvin Freeman quickly loaded the bases with one out and gave way to Doug Sisk, whose first batter, Kal Daniels, launched a grand slam into the West Coast night, giving the Dodgers and 7-2 lead and Skip Caray enough time to muse about how good or bad the postgame WTBS movie was likely to be. Solo home runs by Jeff Treadway and Sanders cut the lead to 8-4 after the Dodgers produced another run in the bottom of the sixth, and that's how it ended, tonight's game causing fans to wonder whether this year's alleged improvement is actually going to happen or if tonight is the night the Braves begin their usual April descent into cellar permanence.
 

selmaborntidefan

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April 26, 1991
Atlanta Braves 7
Houston Astros 2
7-7, 4th place
2.5 games out


For one Friday night in the Houston Astrodome, the fireworks were set off by the bats of the Atlanta Braves as they banged out nine hits, scored seven runs, kept the pedal on the floor and smashed the Houston Astros, 7-2, to give lefthander Charlie Leibrandt his second victory in three decisions and run the Atlanta record against the Astros in the young season to an even 2-2.

The Braves started quickly, with Otis Nixon beating out a bunt and going to second when the throw to first from pitcher Jim Deshaies hit Nixon, who wound up on second. After a walk to Terry Pendleton, Nixon stole third and then went home on Deshaies's second error of the inning when he tried to pick Nixon off of third. Ron Gant walked and with two outs, Jeff Blauser ripped a tripled that scored both runners, and the Braves were off and running early, 3-0.

A Ken Caminiti single followed by a Jeff Bagwell double cut the lead to 3-1 in the third, but the Braves got that right back in the top of the fourth on consecutive doubles by Pendleton and Gant, who went to third on a Justice grounder but didn't score as two Braves failed to even net a sacrifice fly. Then in the Atlanta fifth, the Braves put the game away.

Nixon walked and stole second, went to third on a Pendleton grounder to first. A Gant double and Justice single scored another run and saw reliever Jim Clancy come on in relief of Deshaies. Atlanta countered by sending Sid Bream up to pinch-hit for starter Francisco Cabrera, and the tall, lanky free agent doubled Justice home to put the Braves in front, 7-1, as Astros fans began scurrying to beat the traffic. In the bottom of the eighth, Bobby Cox pulled Leibrandt and replaced him with Jeff Parrett, who quickly ran into trouble by giving up a single to Jeff Bagwell and a triple to Casey Candelae. But Parrrett buckled down and got the next two outs and let Berenguer come in to close it out in a non-save situation. The Braves' only real mistake of the game was Rafael Belliard's third error of the year that resulted in no damage.