With a record of 56-25 at Turner Field, the Atlanta Braves were the best team in baseball playing at home this year. Clayton Kershaw doesn’t care.
The southpaw went seven strong on Thursday night, allowing one run on three hits with 12 strikeouts en route to his first career postseason win. He shut down Atlanta as the Los Angeles Dodgers took Game 1 of the NLDS. The Braves are in serious trouble. It’s only one loss, but by dropping Game 1, they blew the greatest advantage they had in this series – home field.
No longer can they rely on the haven of Turner Field if they wish to advance to the NLCS. Now they have to go out west and conquer Dodger Stadium at least once, maybe twice if they fail to beat Zack Greinke in Game 2.
That is a tall order for a ball club that is terrible on the road. At 40-41, the Braves had the worst road record of any team that made the playoffs this year. And even if they do manage to force Game 5 back in Atlanta, guess who’ll be waiting for them? That’s right, Kershaw.
I doubt the Braves will make it out of Los Angeles. Both Mike Minor and Julio Teheran had great years, but neither has ever pitched in October and the Dodgers’ offense simply has too much firepower.
What is more, the Atlanta offense is entirely reliant on three players: Justin Upton, Freddie Freeman and Chris Johnson. If none of these guys can drive in a run, the Braves aren’t going to score. B.J. Upton and Dan Uggla were supposed to be two offensive leaders, but the former has been demoted to coming off the bench and the latter didn’t even make the postseason roster.
I could be overreacting. It’s possible that the Braves just got beat by one great pitcher – but they’re about to face two more. It’s going to be an uphill battle for Atlanta for the rest of the series, one I doubt they can win. As the great Yogi Berra once said, “It ain’t over til it’s over,” but somewhere off in the distance, you can hear the faint voice of a fat lady singing – and it’s getting louder.