2020. A crazy year regardless of any period of time you choose, and that certainly was the case with the 2020 MLB season. At one point, fans didn’t know if games would be played until 2021. Many players caught COVID-19, others slumped, and many players surprising progressed. The Braves had another great season, but let’s recap exactly what happened, by date.
On June 22nd, after multiple dreadful weeks and mobaths of back and forth bickering, the MLB Owners, and the MLBPA finally agreed to a 60 game season with a 16 team expanded playoffs, as long as the MLBPA agreed to have the players report to their home ballparks by July 1st, and respect all safety requirements. Baseball fans around the world unified, feeling positive as there was finally confirmation of baseball being played in 2020.
On June 24th, the MLB held a scheduling announcement for all 30 MLB Teams on MLB Network, presented in their regular Studio 42. There had been prior discussion that teams would only play opponents in the same regional divisions. Since the Braves are located in the NL East, they would face all NL East, and AL East opponents for the regular season.
It is now July 4th, also known as America’s Birthday. Usually a day of celebration, especially after learning that baseball will be back just 10 days prior, but on that morning we all woke up to the announcement that 4 Braves players tested positive for COVID-19. Those brsves included Pete Kozma, Touki Toussaint, newly signed reliever Will Smith, and Star first-baseman Freddie Freeman. This news was shocking for the whole baseball community, the players, and especially Freddie. It was later told that Freddie’s symptoms were so severe that his body temperature reached up to 101°F. That night, he was so scared that he didn’t even know if he would wake up the next morning. Thankfully, he did, and never looked back, eventually returning to a non-isolated life. The other 3 players were asymptomatic, so they luckily did not have a similar experience.
On July 14th, the Braves decided to get back into the player exchange market, as they signed Yasiel Puig to a one year deal, pending physical. But, Puig did not pass his physical, after testing positive for COVID-19. The Braves immediately terminated the contract, and were never in talks with Puig again.
July 17th, finally some good news for Braves Country! Freddie Freeman and Touki Toussaint both tested negative for Covid twice, and were both granted ability to go back to the team’s facility. Both of them appeared in Truist Park in the July afternoon, taking reps in their respective positions.
The day has finally come. After numerous streamed intersquad simulated games, the Braves would finally face an opponent not named themselves. They would face the Miami Marlins at 7:10pm at Truist Park, with Chip Caray, Jeff Franceour and Tom Glavine calling the game like usual on Fox Sports Southeast. At least something felt normal. The Braves would come back from an 8 run deficit that night and would walk off with a Matt Adams Home Run. The following night, the Marlins avenged their loss with a dominant win.
Opening Day. It’s finally here. Two aces, Mike Soroka and Jacob deGrom will face off to open up the season. The Braves would lose this game 1-0, thanks to a Yoenis Cespedes homerun in the 7th off Chris Martin. The Braves suffered early season woes and struck out a lot. Overall, asides from that one mistake from Martin, the pitching was outstanding.
The Braves came into the second game of the season looking for vengeance and they sure did get what they wanted. The first run of the 2020 season would come off an Adam Duvall solo shot to right field that would hit off a cutout of Jeff McNeil’s dog. Max Fried, who was having an excellent day, gave up back to back doubles in the 5th inning, and gave up 2 runs. The Braves would go into the 9th inning down 2-1, facing Edwin Díaz, whom of which recorded a save against the Braves a day prior. Albies and Freeman went down on 9 pitches, then Ozuna stepped up. 3-2, 2 outs, game on the line. He blasts a solo shot to right center, and the game was tied. Edwin struck out the next Brave, and the Braves held NY scoreless to end the 9th. The Braves bats came alive in the 10th, as Dansby Swanson recorded the first ever RBI on a leadoff single, thanks to the new MLB rule that placed a runner on 2nd at the start of every extra inning. The Braves would score 3 in the 10th, and allow 1 in the bottom of the 10th, to win their first game of 2020.
The Braves kicked off the next series of the season in St. Petersburg against the Tampa Bay Rays. Mike Foltynewicz would start on the mound for the Braves. He threw a solid first 3 innings, only allowing 1 run. Then he took part in part in an 8 run fourth inning. Folty was pulled early. Before the game was even over, Manager Brian Snitker let Folty know in the dugout that he would be Designated for Assignment following the conclusion of the game. Folty, whom was the Braves 2018 ace, and bounced back nicely in the 2nd half of 2019, usually threw 95+ on his fastball, and struggled to hit low 90s all of 2020. He wouldn’t be traded or released, and was outrighted to the Alternate Site.
On July 31st the 4-3 Braves and 3-4 Mets would start their second series of the season, and the Mets looked in control the whole game. They had a 10-5 lead going into the bottom of the 6th inning. The Braves would score 1 in the bottom of the 6th, making it a 10-6 game. Nobody would score in the 7th inning, and the Braves bullpen held the Mets quiet in the top of the 8th. The Braves went into the bottom of the 8th with little to no momentum, but they knew that they needed to piece something together to maintain a winning record. Dansby Swanson hit a single off Betances to drive in Adeiny Hechavarría with 1 out in the 8th, and would make it a 10-7 ballgame. Freddie Freeman followed Dansby with a 4 pitch walk, and the 4th pitch got past Ramos, and allowed Ender Inciarte to go from 2nd to home on a Wild pitch. It’s now a 10-8 ballgame with Swanson on 2nd and Freddie on 1st. Then, the Mets walked Ozuna to load the bases. What followed after was pure chaos. Travis d’Arnaud, who had a hot start to the season, delivered a clutch two out double to cap off the rally, with all runners scoring. Then, the Braves managed to score on a risky send home by Ron Washington, and a slow tag motion by Wilson Ramos. It’s now an 11-10 ballgame, Braves out in front. Melancon shut it down in the top of the 9th, and the Braves had successfully collected a statement win against a huge division rival.
August 3rd, the series finale of the Mets-Braves series. The Braves took a 3-0 series lead, and were looking to complete the sweep, sending ace Mike Soroka to the mound. Mike threw 2 shaky innings to start, but allowed no runs. The Braves offense struggled to hit deGrom. Another true pitcher’s battle, until the top of the 3rd. The Mets had runners on with no outs. Soroka then gave up an opposite field single to Conforto to make it a 1-0 ballgame. Then with the bases loaded, Soroka allowed a 2 run single to the left side by Robinson Canó. Things were getting out of hand quick but what happened next, nobody was anticipating nor ready for. Soroka forced a weak grounder from JD Davis to Freddie Freeman at 1st. As Soroka went to cover, in the process of gathering his feet to run, too much of his weight transferred to the back of his right foot. As a result, he tore his right achilles. He tried to hobble to the dugout, but fell onto all fours inside of the first base line. The Braves’ worst nightmare had just come to life. The rotation was so bad outside of Soroka and Fried. Soroka, presumably the team’s ace, just suffered a season ending injury. The whole baseball community, and especially Braves Country was in shock. The Braves would proceed to lose the game 7-2, but the Braves lost more than a game. They just lost their ace for the rest of the year, if not for longer.
The Braves are 13-10 coming into the game facing the 8-11 Nationals. Braves send Touki to the mound against ex Brave Anibal Sanchez. The game was high scoring early, as the Nats held a 4-3 lead after 3 innings. The Nat would tack on one more in the 5th, as they held the Braves scoreless after the 3rd inning. The Nats added on one more in the 9th, making it a 6-3 ballgame going into the bottom of the 9th. The Nats send out their closer, Daniel Hudson to close out the game. Markakis got on base, and with no outs still, Adam Duvall followed up Markakis’ reaching of base with a Homerun deposited into the Nats’ bullpen. Now a 6-5 ballgame with no outs. The Braves look like they’re gonna pull out another late inning victory. Austin Riley got on base, and Charlie Culberson pinch ran for him. Dansby came up with two outs and a runner on first. On a 1-0 count, Dansby drilled a fastball on the outer third into the Braves’ bullpen. Dansby’s hit start continued as he lifted the Braves to victory with a walkoff homerun to complete a 4 run ninth inning!
August 18th was a day that Braves had waited to hear for a very long time. The Braves announced around 4:30 in the afternoon, prior to their game with the Nationals, top prospect Cristian Pache was called up to the Major League Squad.
On August 20th, the Braves made another amazingly positive announcement. After a horrible start, the Braves finally sent Kyle Wright to the alternate site, and reinstated reliever Chris Martin from the IL.
August had been a great month for Braves Country. The team was 16-12 after injuries to Ronald Acuña Jr, Ozzie Albies, Mike Soroka, and Chris Martin. But, the Braves had even more good news. The day that the Braves were supposed to face the Mew York Yankees, they called up top pitching prospect Ian Anderson, and reinstated Star Ronald Acuña Jr from the IL. The game that night was postponed.
On August 26th, Snitker started Ian Anderson. The rookie finally got his Major League Debut, and boy, was it a good one. Ian Anderson started his career with a 1-2-3 inning vs the Yankees, striking out Aaron Hicks for his first major league strikeout to close the inning. The very next AB, Ronald Acuña Jr took Gerrit Cole 473 feet to left center on a 98 mph fastball off the plate. Just like that, Anderson had run support. Anderson continued to shove, and the offense continued to take dominate Cole. Anderson managed to throw for 5 innings without allowing a hit. In his MLB Debut, he went 6 full, allowing 1 run, 1 hit, 6 strikeouts and 2 walks. Braves swept the doubles header against New York, and advanced to 18-12.
On August 30th, a day before the trade deadline, the Braves traded two Players to be Named Later for Orioles’ starter Tommy Milone.
The Braves walked into Boston at 20-14 after sweeping the Yankees. They dominated the Redsox, winning 10-3, but history was made that night. Marcell Ozuna hit 3 long balls, setting a record. He also became the first National League player to hit 3 homeruns in one game at Fenway Park, in its entire 108 year lifespan.
The very next night, the Braves once again dominated the Red Sox, but the score made it closer than it felt like. Braves won 7-5, but Adam Duvall repeated what Ozuna did the night prior, hitting 3 homeruns in one game. Marcell Ozuna and Adam Duvall are the first teammates to hit 3 homeruns in one game in back to back games since Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig in 1930.
All I’m going to say is, this night was most certainly one for the history books. The Atlanta Braves absolutely teed off against Pablo Lopez and the Miami Marlins, scoring a National League record, 29 runs in a 9 inning game. While the Braves won that game 29-9, they came up one run short of tying the modern MLB record for runs in a game. However, they broke the former modern NL record of 28 runs in a game.
On September 14th, the Atlanta Braves signed legendary 3B Pablo Sandoval. We surely will win the World Series now.
After taking a 1-0 series lead on the Marlins, the Braves are one game away from clinching the NL East, and a playoff spot. The Braves offense absolutely dominated the win, taking the game 11-1, and clinched the Braves’ 3rd consecutive NL East title.
On September 30th, the Braves played game 1 of the NLWCS against the Cincinnati Reds. They faced current Cy Young front runner Trevor Bauer, and we sent Max Fried to the mound. Both teams pitchers dominated, as there was no score through 9 innings. The Reds continued to get runners on, and the Braves continued to get out of jams. There was no score after 12 innings, then the Reds had a bases loaded, 1 out oppurtunity in the 13th. Yet, somehow, someway, the Braves end on top, holding the Reds scoreless after 13 innings. In the bottom of the 13th, the Braves had runner on the corners with 1 out. Freddie Freeman stepped up to the plate, and delivered a sharp single into center field, finally concluding the 5 hour long game after almsot 13 full scoreless innings. Braves hold a 1-0 series lead.
On September 31st the Braves would sweep the Reds in the NLWCS, after winning 5-0. The Braves pitching once again dominated, and the bats finally came through. The Braves won their first playoff series since 2001. One series down. Onto the Marlins.
Game 1 between the Marlins and Braves was full of offense. The Braves struck first in the bottom of the first, thanks to a leadoff bomb off the second deck facade by Ronald Acuña Jr. Miami struck back in the top of the 2nd with a Miguel Rojas solo shot into the Crawford Boxes. In the top of the 3rd the Marlins scored 3 runs, making it 4-1 Marlins after 3. In the bottom of the 3rd, Sandy Alcantara hit Ronald with a 98 mph fastball in the hip. Ronald is tired of getting hit by Miami pitchers, and Miami soon realized once you hit Ronald, you wake up the Braves lineup. The Braves put up a couple runs in the bottom of the frame, and made it a 4-3 ballgame. In the 7th inning with one out and runners on the corners, Ozuna singled into left field to tie up the game. Travis d’Arnaud came up to bat after Ozuna, and he delivered one of the biggest hits of the postseason, taking a 2-0 slider off Yimi García and depositing it into the center field seats, giving the Braves a 7-4 lead in the 7th. After he went yard, Ozzie reached base, then Miami called James Hoyt in to pitch. First pitch he throws, Dansby takes deep to left center, above the huge wall. The Braves would go on to win this game 9-5, and take a demanding Game 1 win.
The Braves started Kyle Wright against Sixto Sanchez after taking a 2-0 series lead verse Miami. Kyle Wright shoved 6 scoreless innings, and the Braves offense did its thing, as the Braves would snap the Marlins 7-0 franchise playoff record with a 7-0 win, and the Atlanta Braves would advance to the NLCS to face the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Game 1 between the Dodgers and Braves was one for both sides to remember. Max Fried and Walker Buehler would face off in Arlington. Fried threw a scoreless top half of the first, and Freddie Freeman drilled a Buehler fastball into the right field seats to give Atlanta an early 1-0 lead. In the top of the 3rd, Max Fried hung a curveball and surrendered a solo bomb to LA’s Kiké Hernandez. The game would remain a 1-1 pitchers’ duel until the 9th. The Dodgers would call in Blake Treinen, and Austin Riley took a sinker that caught his barrel absolutely deep to left center, off the facade 20 feet above the Braves’ bullpen. Atlanta continued the momentum, as Ozuna would deliver an RBI single a few batters later, and Albies would mash a Jake McGee slider into the Braves pen, which was caught by Melancon lol. Braves would win Game 1 by a score of 5-1.
October 18th. The Braves had taken a 2-0 series lead to start the series, and had a 3-1 series lead. The Dodgers would storm back and force a Game 7. Game 7 was full of ups and downs. The Braves got off to an early 1-0 lead, thanks to a Marcell Ozuna single into left field that Acuña Jr scored on. After that, in the 2nd, Dansby Swanson took Tony Gonsolin deep to left center, making it a 2-0 ballgame. In the bottom of the 3rd, the Dodgers would tie it up at 2 thanks to a single by Turner. The ball was hit where a 2B would generally play, but the Braves were in a shift so Ozzie was unable to get it. In the top of the 4th, Austin Riley came up huge once again, punching a ball into center to score 1, making it a 3-2 ballgame in favor of Atlanta. The Dodgers would tie it up in the 5th. 3-3. In the bottom of the 7th, Cody Bellinger delivered the huge blow, a mammoth shot into right field that gave LA a 4-3 lead. LA would hold onto that lead, and would punch their ticket to a World Series. The Braves season had come to an end.
All in all, this season was special. The Braves had one of the worst rotations in the league, yet it was dominant by the end of the season. We managed to make the NLCS for the first time since 2001. This team is special, and has a very bright future ahead. Many things need to be executed well this offseason, and we trust AA to make all the right decisions. Thank you Braves for delivering more promise than we have seen for my whole lifetime.