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Braves miss chance for 'release' as 1st fizzles

Acuna left stranded after leadoff double vs. Kershaw
October 5, 2018

LOS ANGELES -- The view from third base looking toward home plate has always been one Ronald Acuna Jr.'s favorites.It's 90 feet from the ultimate goal. Acuna scored 78 times during the regular season.So, when the rookie reached third base with one out in the first inning of Game 2

LOS ANGELES -- The view from third base looking toward home plate has always been one Ronald Acuna Jr.'s favorites.
It's 90 feet from the ultimate goal. Acuna scored 78 times during the regular season.
So, when the rookie reached third base with one out in the first inning of Game 2 against the Dodgers in the National League Division Series, a familiar feeling came over him and everyone in the visiting dugout.
:: NLDS schedule and results ::
Acuna was going to score, his teammates thought, and that run, the first run for the Braves of the NLDS, would not only give the club the lead, it would wipe out the nervous tension that plagued them in a Game 1 shutout.
This run would mean the Braves had a chance and they were back in the series. But the run never came. Three hours later, Acuna watched from third base again as Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen struck out Freddie Freeman for the final out in the Dodgers' 3-0 victory to put the Braves in an 2-0 hole and on the brink of elimination.
The missed opportunity in the top of the first was compounded by a two-run home run by Manny Machado in the bottom half to give the home team a 2-0 lead and deflate Atlanta's optimism.
Ninety feet never felt so far.
It didn't help that Clayton Kershaw was dealing in his longest and best postseason start.
"When Manny hit that homer, we were like, "Dang, we really needed to score that run,' because I really feel like if would have scored that run in that first inning, this series would be 1-1," first baseman Freeman said. "It would have been a release and we would have gone out there and had fun. I wouldn't say the pressure built, but we didn't get another guy in scoring position after that until the ninth inning."

Freeman had his chances. He grounded out for the second out in the first *inning, after Acuna doubled and Johan Camargo grounded out to the pitcher to move Acuna to third.
"Thought maybe we had a good plan," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "Ronald came out and rifled that one in the first inning, and he was the only guy I think that got to second base after that even. So, I don't know, we've just got to go back home, regroup and win a game."

With the loss, the Braves joined the 1921 Giants as the only teams to get shut out through the first two games of a postseason series. The Braves scored 10 runs in a victory against the Phillies on Sept. 28 but were shut out the next day and have managed only one run in their last 36 innings.
The odds are now stacked against them. In a five-game series with the 2-2-1 format, teams that have won the first two games at home have won the series 24 of 27 times (89 percent).

But the Braves are not giving up.
"I feel like we played well, but things have not gone our way," Acuna said. "Right now, what we want to do is keep focused on the next game. We will keep the same mentality we always have and all we can do is keep a good attitude about it."
Acuna did his part. In addition to his first-inning double, he also hit the ball hard to left field for the third out of the third inning. He hit a single off of Jansen with one out in the ninth inning and advance to third on a pair of defensive indifferences. But just like the first inning, he would stay put.
"We didn't come out victorious, but we are staying positive," Acuna said.

Jesse Sanchez, who has been writing for MLB.com since 2001, is a national reporter based in Phoenix. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB and Facebook.