After prevailing over the Rockies in a tougher-than-expected NLDS, the Braves, despite having the better record, opened the 1995 NLCS in Cincinnati.
The Reds were a force on offense, finishing third in the NL in homers, second in runs and first in stolen bases. They swept the Dodgers in the NLDS, outscoring them 22-7. Against the Braves, they managed but 5 runs in 4 games.
They scored only one in Game 1, but for 8 innings that was enough to give them the lead. Their ace, Pete Schourek, runner-up to Maddux for the Cy Young in ’95, finally folded in the 9th, allowing singles to Chipper and McGriff and a fielder’s choice RBI by David Justice. The Braves loaded the bases against Reds closer Jeff Brantley but Dwight Smith flew out to end the inning.
In the 11th, series MVP Mike Devereaux, with two outs, lined a single to CF off Michael Jackson, scoring the Crime Dog.
The Reds came right back in the bottom half, with a pinch-hit, lead-off double by Thomas Howard, who took third on a Barry Larkin groundout. Steve Avery replaced Clontz but was pulled after walking the only batter he faced. Two on, one out and Reggie Sanders, who had emerged as one of the NL’s most feared hitters in ’95, batting .306 with a .975 OPS and 36 steals, due up.
Bobby countered with Greg McMichael, who repeatedly spit the bit in the ’93 NLCS. I don’t recall feeling comfortable about the situation, but Sanders, as he would do throughout the series, failed to come through, hitting into a game-ending double play, the fifth turned by the Braves.
Reggie didn’t deliver much during his one year for Atlanta, either. He was one of 10 former or future Braves on the ’95 Reds, joining Ron Gant, Deion Sanders, Damon Berryhill, Brian Hunter, Jerome Walton, Bret Boone, Mike Remlinger, C.J. Nitkowski and Pete Smith.