Wednesday, September 14, 2011

1996 NLCS: Bravo, Braves

How they got here
The defending World Series champions, the Atlanta Braves had a cakewalk in 1996. Though they weren't quite as good the previous year, they didn't have to be, needing only to fight off a modest challenge from Montreal to win the NL East. St. Louis, meanwhile, survived a tight battle in the NL Central, pulling away from Houston in the last few weeks of the season.

In the first round, the two NL West teams were no match, with Atlanta sweeping Los Angeles and St. Louis sweeping San Diego. The matchup between Atlanta and St. Louis wasn't expected to be close, with the defending champion Braves not expected to get much of a challenge from a Cardinals team making the playoffs for the first time in nine seasons.

But after a Game 1 win by Atlanta, St. Louis took the next three games, including a pair of one-run games. Needing three straight wins to advance to their second straight World Series, the Braves sent a message in Game 5, winning 14-0 in St. Louis. A 3-1 Atlanta win in Game 6 set up a Game 7.

The Game
In the clinching game of the 1995 World Series, Tom Glavine threw a shutout to give the Braves their first title in Atlanta. The Braves went to Glavine again to try to send them back to the World Series. They needn't have bothered, scoring six runs in the bottom of the first to put the game away.

They weren't done there, either. With Glavine on the mound, the Cardinals didn't have a chance, and they played like it, giving up nine more runs. The Braves got to 15, and the Cardinals ended up with only four hits as the Braves cruised to a 15-0 Game 7 victory.

Trying to defend their title, the Braves faced the Yankees, who hadn't yet established their dynasty. Halfway through Game 4, the Braves had a 2-1 series lead and a 6-0 in the game. Then it all fell apart. The Yankees stormed back to win Game 4 and won the series in six games. The Yankees would go on to win four titles in five years, while the Braves haven't won one since.

The Rundown
What I'm doing.

The list so far:
24: 1996 NLCS: Atlanta 15, St. Louis 0

Still to come:
1972 NLCS: Cincinnati vs. Pittsburgh
1972 ALCS: Detroit vs. Oakland
1973 NLCS: Cincinnati vs. New York
1973 ALCS: Baltimore vs. Oakland
1976 ALCS: Kansas City vs. New York
1977 ALCS: Kansas City vs. New York
1980 NLCS: Houston vs. Philadelphia
1981 NCLS: Los Angeles vs. Montreal
1982 ALCS: California vs. Milwaukee
1984 NLCS: Chicago vs. San Diego
1985 ALCS: Kansas City vs. Toronto
1986 ALCS: Boston vs. California
1987 NLCS: St. Louis vs. San Francisco
1988 NLCS: Los Angeles vs. New York
1991 NLCS: Atlanta vs. Pittsburgh
1992 NLCS: Atlanta vs. Pittsburgh
2003 NLCS: Chicago vs. Florida
2003 ALCS: Boston vs. New York
2004 NLCS: Houston vs. St. Louis
2004 ALCS: Boston vs. New York
2006 NLCS: New York vs. St. Louis
2007 ALCS: Boston vs. Cleveland
2008 ALCS: Boston vs. Tampa Bay

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