Love it! Only got to watch the first three innings but loving the result. Playoffs! And in quite apt fashion.
One year ago -- 368 days to be exact -- Freddie Freeman
batted in the bottom of the 13th inning with one out and grounded a 3-2 pitch from the Phillies' David Herndon
to first base. John Mayberry Jr.
started a 3-6-3 double play and the Braves' season was over in a 4-3 defeat, the final gut-punch in a horrific final month that saw Atlanta go 9-18 in September and lose its final five games to miss the playoffs by one win.
So maybe it was fitting that Freeman was the player who launched the Braves into the 2012 postseason, hitting a dramatic game-winning two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth on Tuesday night, an arching blast over the 400-foot sign in dead center that gave Atlanta a 4-3 win
Maybe it was fitting that Craig Kimbrel
, the closer who blew a ninth-inning lead in that 162nd game a year ago, pitched a scoreless ninth to pick up the win.
It certainly was fitting that Chipper Jones
, who went 0-for-5 with three strikeouts in the 2011 finale, started the rally with a leadoff double. Old man Chipper, still stinging line drives all over the place.
And needless to say, it was no surprise that Kris Medlen
, the Braves' good-luck charm, started the game. He didn't get the decision and even proved human -- allowing three runs! -- but the Braves have now won 22 consecutive games he's started, going back to 2010, tying the all-time mark with Whitey Ford's Yankees and Carl Hubbell's Giants.
"We are shooting for the stars," Jones said after the game. "It makes it all worth it. I'm happier for these guys because they worked hard."
What did we learn on this evening? That maybe the Braves should start Medlen in the wild-card game ... and Game 1 of the Division Series ... and Game 2 ... and ... OK, we learned that Braves fan can finally breathe. No collapse this year. And we learned that Medlen is still the hottest pitcher in the game -- 7 innings, 5 hits, no walks, 8 strikeouts -- and continues to give Atlanta ace-level performance.