We’re counting down the best of the Braves, game by game, series by series, from Octobers past.
It had become a familiar playoff scene: Lots of empty seats at Turner Field, Braves lay an egg.
In Game 1 of the 2004 NLDS, the Astros slugged four homers en route to a 9-3 victory before 41,000-plus at The Ted. The crowd was even smaller the next afternoon but at least the pitching was better, as Mike Hampton held the ‘Stros to 2 runs in 6-1/3 innings. Unfortunately, the Braves bats couldn’t get a hit when it mattered, stranding 7 runners through 6 scoreless frames.
Down 2-1 with one out in the bottom of the 8th, the Braves tied it on an Adam LaRoche double, moving Wilson Betemit to third. But they couldn’t break the tie.
Smoltzie returned to the mound in the 9th. That’s right, Bobby used his closer in the 8th with the Braves down a run. Imagine Fredi doing that, then leaving him in three innings.
Antonio Alfonseca replaced Smoltz in the 11th, retiring Carlos Beltran, Jeff Bagwell and Lance Berkman in order. With two outs in the bottom half of the inning, Rafael Furcal stepped into the box against Dan Miceli. Down to his final strike, Fukey hit a bullet that cleared the wall in right, tying the series at one game apiece.