By Walter Bergeson on May 31, 2014
The Atlanta Braves have made the playoffs 17 times since 1991. Only once, however, did Atlanta come away with a World Series victory. Through all those postseason defeats, there have been several figures who delivered a crushing blow to the Braves in one way or another. Here are the 10 biggest postseason nemeses for the Atlanta Braves.
Cone pitched against the Braves in three separate World Series, starting with the Blue Jays in 1992 and then with the Yankees in 1996 and 1999. In four World Series starts against the Braves, Cone's team won each time with the right hander allowing only five earned runs in 23.1 innings.
Holbrook made the infamous infield fly call in the 2012 NL Wild Card Game against the St. Louis Cardinals. The Braves were down by three when the call was made, but they would have had the bases loaded with just one out in the 8th had Holbrook not made the incorrect call.
Johnson dominated the Braves in the 2001 NLCS pitching for the Arizona Diamondbacks. He threw a complete game shutout in Game 1 of the series, then held the Braves to just two runs over seven innings in the series clincher. "The Big Unit" struck out 19 Braves over 16 innings, leading the Diamondbacks to the World Series.
The switch-hitting outfielder put together the most impressive offensive performance in NLDS history against the Braves in 2005. He hit .455 in 22 at-bats in the five-game series with a 1.591 OPS. In the series clincher, Beltran hit two of his four home runs in the series and picked up five of his nine RBI.
Schilling made a name for himself in the 1993 NLCS against the Braves. The Phillies won both of his starts, and he struck out 19 Braves over 16 innings. He then threw a complete game four-hitter against the Braves while pitching for the Diamondbacks in the 2001 NLCS, striking out 12.
Knoblauch's name still elicits groans from Braves fans. He faked out Lonnie Smith in Game 7 of the '91 World Series, causing Smith to stop on the basepaths and preventing him from scoring what would have been the series clinching run. With the Yankees in the '99 series, he homered in the 8th inning of Game 3 to tie the game, which New York would win in extra innings. He hit .310 against Atlanta between the two series.
Leyritz capped off the Braves' worst collapse in playoff history during the '96 World Series. The Braves were up two games to one on the Yankees and jumped out to a 6-0 lead in Game 4. After New York cut the lead to 6-3, Leyritz hit a three-run homer in the 8th inning to tie the game 6-6, and the Yankees went on to win the game in extra innings. Leyritz also homered for the Yankees in the series clincher against Atlanta in 1999.
Puckett's performance in Game 6 of the '91 World Series was one of the greatest in World Series history. He made a tremendous leaping grab in the third inning that saved at least one run, then hit the game-winning home run in the bottom of the 11th. Between driving in three of the Twins' four runs in the game and robbing Gant of an RBI double, Puckett single-handedly forced a Game 7.
Gregg's comically wide strike zone for Marlins pitcher Livan Hernandez in Game 5 of the '97 NLCS led to Hernandez striking out 15 Braves in his complete game three-hitter. Gregg repeatedly called strikes against Braves left-handed hitters on pitches that would have hit batters standing in the right handed batter's box. Hernandez went on to be named series MVP, and he never struck out more than 11 in any other start of his career.
Morris started three games against the Braves in the '91 World Series, allowing only three earned runs over 23 innings. He famously shutout the Braves for 10 innings in Game 7 and was named series MVP. Even though the Braves beat Morris twice in the '92 World Series while pitching for the Toronto Blue Jays, Atlanta lost the series and Morris won back-to-back championships at the Braves' expense.
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