The Top 10 Braves moments of 2019
ATLANTA -- Ronald Acuña Jr. chased history during the second half and produced National League MVP Award credentials that were rivaled by both Freddie Freeman and Josh Donaldson. Mike Soroka established himself as one of the game’s top starters, and Brian McCann enjoyed a homecoming that might have evolved even better than he envisioned when he returned to the Braves this past winter.
The Braves created an abundance of memories while proving to be one of baseball’s most exciting teams, culminating in winning a second consecutive NL East title.
Here’s a look at the Top 10 moments from the 2019 season:
When Acuña stole second base during the eighth inning of a 14-inning win over the Mets on Aug. 23, he became the second-youngest player in MLB history to hit 30 homers and steal 30 bases in a season. The only other Braves to construct a 30-30 season were Hank Aaron (1963), Dale Murphy (’83) and Ron Gant (’90 and ’91).
2. Cleveland comeback
Trailing 7-3 with the bases loaded and two outs in the ninth inning of an April 20 game in Cleveland, the Braves were staring at the possibility of being swept in a doubleheader. But Ozzie Albies delivered a two-run single, Freeman drew a bases-loaded walk and Acuña completed an improbable comeback with a go-ahead, two-run double.
3. Charlie Angels in the Outfield
This was the nickname Luke Jackson gave Charlie Culberson after Culberson produced the team’s defensive play of the year during the ninth inning of a 4-3 win over the Marlins on July 7. With the bases loaded and none out, Neil Walker hit a fly ball that Culberson caught in left field before unleashing a pinpoint throw that retired Jorge Alfaro at the plate.
4. Power against power
Freeman quickly killed the drama of his matchup against Josh Hader on May 18. The Braves first baseman opened the bottom of the 10th by drilling a walk-off home run against the Brewers closer, who entered the game having limited left-handed hitters to a .090 batting average and two homers dating back to the start of 2018.
**5. Grand finale
**Rafael Ortega’s sixth-inning grand slam against Dustin May proved to be the decisive blow in a series-clinching, 5-3 win over the Dodgers on Aug. 18. Ortega had tallied just one homer in his previous 330 career at-bats.
6. Acuña’s blast
Acuña celebrated his return to the leadoff spot by hitting a decisive solo homer in the eighth inning of a 2-1 win over the D-backs on May 10. The outfielder’s 466-foot blast was the longest home run hit by a Braves player this year, per Statcast.
7. Improbable Rally II
The Braves trailed 3-0 entering the ninth inning of their 4-3 win in St. Louis on May 26. Donaldson and Austin Riley recorded RBI singles off Jordan Hicks and Albies extended the game with a two-out single off Andrew Miller. McCann drew a decisive bases-loaded walk in the 10th inning.
8. Improbable Rally III
The Braves trailed 7-2 before beginning a rally with a pair of runs in the seventh and eighth innings of their June 14 win over the Phillies. Riley extended the game with a two-out RBI single in the ninth and McCann ended it when he followed with a walk-off single that capped a three-run ninth.
9. Welcome to The Show
Riley didn’t wait long to intensify the buzz surrounding his arrival to the Major League level on May 15. The young slugger homered off Michael Wacha in his second career at-bat and helped the Braves claim a 4-0 win over the Cardinals.
10. Braves clinch the NL East
McCann’s sixth-inning home run supported Mike Foltynewicz’s eight scoreless innings and served as the feel-good moment in a 6-0 win over the Giants, giving the Braves a second straight division title. McCann returned to the Braves this past winter with the hope of having the chance to once again help his hometown team reach the playoffs. The veteran catcher debuted in 2005, when Atlanta won the final of its 14 consecutive division titles.