Although the 2019 season ended with a disappointing first-round exit for the Atlanta Braves, it was yet another year filled with plenty of exciting moments. The Braves finished the season with their best regular-season record since 2003 (97-65) and won their second straight NL East title. With flashy, young superstars like Ronald Acuña Jr. and Ozzie Albies, it’s not a surprise that Atlanta was deemed as one of baseball’s “most exciting teams to watch” in 2019. As a result, they provided an abundance of memories that no one in Braves Country will soon forget.
So, let’s take a look at the Braves’ top five moments from 2019.
Atlanta Braves Top Five Moments From 2019
No. 5 – Riley Homers In Debut
Very few prospects receive as much hype before their first big-league game as Austin Riley did last season. Before being called up on May 15th, he was on a tear in Triple-A. He had 15 home runs on the season and hit 13 of those in his last 18 games.
Riley lived up to the hype and delivered in his MLB debut, homering off St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Michael Wacha. Riley’s 438-foot blast into the left-field seats sent SunTrust Park into a frenzy. It also provided an unforgettable moment for his family and friends who were in attendance.
No. 4 – Ninth Inning Rally In Cleveland
One of the Braves’ most exciting moments last season came on April 19th in Cleveland. Atlanta had already lost game one of the doubleheader and was staring at the possibility of losing their fifth straight game. They trailed 7-0 after the second inning and headed into the ninth down 7-3. It was a cold, foggy night in Cleveland, and it would have been easy for Atlanta to concede the game and move on, but their rally was just getting started.
In the ninth, the Braves managed to load the bases and Albies came up to the plate with two outs. Albies kept the rally going by knocking in two runs with a single down the first-base line. Josh Donaldson came up next and worked a five-pitch walk to load the bases again. Then, Freddie Freeman drew a bases-loaded walk, and Acuña completed the comeback with a go-ahead, two-run double that gave Atlanta an 8-7 lead. Reliever A.J. Minter came on in the bottom half of the inning and finished off the Indians by striking out the side.
We were down four runs in the 9th.
— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) April 21, 2019
No. 3 – Culberson’s Throw
This was the Braves’ defensive play of the year, coming from Charlie Culberson against the Miami Marlins on July 7th. Atlanta had controlled the game with a 4-0 lead until the Marlins made a late rally to make it 4-3. Culberson didn’t start the game but came in as a defensive replacement for Austin Riley in the eighth inning.
With no outs and the bases loaded for Miami in the top of the ninth, Neil Walker hit a fly ball that Culberson caught in left field before unleashing a perfect throw that retired Jorge Alfaro at the plate. The crowd erupted, and Braves catcher Brian McCann pumped his fist and pointed to Culberson after the tag. Miami challenged the play, but the call was upheld. Braves closer Luke Jackson went on to halt the Marlins rally, and Atlanta improved to 54-37 to finish the first-half of the season.
No. 2 – McCann’s Walk-Off Completes Comeback
Arguably the best moment from Atlanta’s 2019 campaign came on June 14th against the Philadelphia Phillies. This was Atlanta’s first series against Philadelphia since they were swept in the first three games of the season. The Braves entered the game with a 1 1/2-game lead over the Phillies and were looking to make a statement at home against their division rival.
However, things got off to a rocky start and Atlanta trailed 7-2 going into the bottom of the seventh inning. Nevertheless, they went on to score two runs in the seventh and eighth and made it an 8-6 game heading into the ninth. In the bottom of the ninth, they would rally with two outs and make it an 8-7 game after Riley doubled in a run. Then, fan-favorite and hometown hero Brian McCann stepped up to the plate with two outs and runners on second and third. He didn’t disappoint, as he reached down and drove an opposite-field single into the gap in left-center, giving him 1,000 RBI for his career. His game-winning single sent the sellout crowd of 41,975 into an uproar and gave the Braves their first eight-game winning streak since 2013.
No. 1 – Braves Clinch NL East
After surprising everyone by winning the NL East in 2018, the Braves followed it up in 2019 by capturing their second straight NL East title. Although they were doubted by many in the preseason, the Braves caught fire in June and didn’t look back. They secured a postseason berth on September 14th, but it took them a few extra days to clinch the division. They did so on September 20th on their home field against the San Francisco Giants.
Acuña blasted his 41st home run, Mike Foltynewicz dazzled with eight scoreless innings, and McCann topped it off with a sixth-inning home run to lead the Braves to a 6-0 win and their second-straight division title. This win also gave Atlanta their 19th division title, which tied the New York Yankees for the most division titles since Major League Baseball split into divisions for the 1969 season.
Embed from Getty Images