This baseball season has been stupid. Freddie Freeman caught COVID-19, Mike Soroka blew out his Achilles, Cole Hamels managed to stick it to Atlanta one more time in his career, and Cristian Pache has more AB’s in the post season than he had in the regular season. The Braves had the worst starting pitching in baseball during the 60 game regular season but has relied on that same starting pitching to fuel their run to the World Series with 7 straight victories. So why should anyone be surprised that after jumping out to a 3-1 lead in the NLCS over the best team ever to take the field, the LA Dodgers, the Braves now face a winner-take-all game 7 with a rookie on the mound that has had a total of 9 starts in his career? Like I said, this season is stupid.
No one knows yet who the Braves will face on the mound Sunday night. Tony Gonsolin seems to be the obvious choice since he would be on regular rest, but L.A. manager Dave Roberts was unwilling to commit to naming anyone as the starter after Saturday’s game. Clayton Kershaw could be an option for a few innings even though he was scratched from one start with back spasms, and game 3 starter Julio Urias might be available for an inning if needed. Additionally, climbing back into this series and protecting leads might cost the Dodgers some noteworthy arms out of the bullpen. Kenley Jansen, Blake Treinen and Pedro Baez have all worked in back-to-back games, and while it should be all hands on deck in a game seven, Roberts may be reluctant to turn to those three in a critical spot.
Ultimately it probably doesn’t matter who starts for L.A. Sunday. The Braves’ lineup has proven that when they are clicking they can beat up anyone; when they aren’t clicking, anyone can shut them down. No deficit is insurmountable for this offense, so Anderson needs to go into this game with the belief that his teammates are going to back him up with some runs and just go out there and pitch his heart out. We’ve seen what happens to a pitcher when they feel like they have to be perfect against the Dodgers. Wright might need to reach out to John Smoltz’s sports psychologist after that game four drubbing he took at the hands of their sluggers, and if Anderson gives up an early run or two he can’t afford to fold under the pressure.
So a couple of days ago, #RallyPotato became a thing. Braves Twitter personality @RileyRakes apparently received a random and anonymous potato in the mail in the middle of the game 3 debacle that saw the Dodgers hang eleven runs on the Braves in the first inning. After opening the package containing the potato the Braves outscored the Dodgers 3-0 and the legend of the rally potato was born.
Images of potatoes flooded Twitter in response to this #RallyPotato revolution, and naturally the Braves had an offensive resurgence in the very next game, blowing out the Dodgers 10-2 in game 4. Momentum had finally started swinging back to the Braves at this point, and Rally Potato had taken on a life of its own:
To the point of inspiring merchandising opportunities:
Sadly, much like the Tiger Woods meme of 2019, once something like this is fully embraced by all of Braves Twitter it seems to lose its magical powers. The Braves have since lost two straight and now are facing elimination Sunday night. Maybe what we need is a #RallyAvocado to overcome the L.A. vibe this series has taken over the last few games. Maybe a #RallyPeach? All I know is that #RallyPotato seems to have taken the starch out of the Braves offense over the last two games, and it might be time to try something else.
Rays eliminate the Astros in a game seven of their own
Tampa went up three games to none in the ALCS only to have the Astros come back and force a game seven of their own Saturday night. In the end, however, Randy Arozarena was just too much for Houston to contain and former Brave Charlie Morton shut down the ‘Stros powerful offense for 5 2/3rds innings. The Rays move on with a 4-2 win and await the winner of Braves-Dodgers. The World Series starts Tuesday in Arlington, TX.
Jeff passan joined the podcast last week to talk about braves/dodgers
The ChattTenn Sports launched our Braves-centric podcast earlier this year, Hittin’ Dingers, and success is going to our heads a bit. If you still watch ESPN you might recognize last week’s guest Jeff Passan. He’s been a crucial element of their baseball coverage since joining the Worldwide Leader in 2018 after a successful sting with Yahoo! Sports, and he had a ton of favorable things to say about our Braves as well as insights on the state of baseball in general, what to expect from an unpredictable Hot Stove season this Winter, and he gives a peek into just how great his life really is and why we should all be jealous of him. He also gave some detail on Tony Gonsolin as the West Coast version of Ian Anderson, both of whom could be squaring off in game 7. If you haven’t had a chance to listen to it, we got to spend about 45 minutes with him and it would be a great way to get yourself ready for Sunday’s game. Give it a listen, rate us, and throw us a bone and share it with your friends!