ATLANTA -- The first postseason game at SunTrust Park didn't disappoint.
The typically reserved Freddie Freeman yelled toward the Braves dugout after he smacked the go-ahead home run, the first long ball of his career in the playoffs. After Atlanta's offense limped through two games in Los Angeles, the three-time All-Star first baseman couldn't keep up his normally stoic demeanor after punctuating a breakout night in a 6-5 win over the Dodgers in Sunday's Game 3.
Atlanta's season is alive, for at least another day.
"Yeah. I don't really know what happened," Freeman said of his rare display. "They showed me the replay after the game, and I guess I was pretty excited after I hit it. I am not one (to be emotional), but that was a big moment, put us ahead, so kind of emotions took over."
So too, did Ronald Acuña Jr., who delivered another piece of history, while Braves manager Brian Snitker announced Mike Foltynewicz will take the ball again for Game 4 as Atlanta looks to stave off elimination one more time.
History, though, isn't on Atlanta's side as we dive into a win played in front of the largest crowd in SunTrust history, with 42,385 in attendance.
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1. The Pheñom arrived, and so too did the Braves offense
Ronald Acuña Jr. has had a penchant for aligning himself with legendary names throughout his otherworldly rookie season. He did it again with just one swing in Game 3, giving the Braves offense a life it's been begging for in this series.
Acuña sent a 97-mph four-seam fastball from Dodgers starter Walker Buehler sailing 414 feet into the left center seats, breaking things open for a slumping Atlanta offense with a grand slam that made the outfielder the youngest player in history to hit one in the postseason.
At 20 years, 128 days, Acuña broke the record of Mickey Mantle who, hit a grand slam in the 1953 World Series at 21.
"He continues to amaze," said Freeman. "I don't think we wanted anybody else in that situation. It's kind of fitting our starting pitcher was the first one to get an RBI in this series. In that situation, Ronald was able to work the count and get a hitter's count and I think everybody had all the confidence in the world. He's been doing it all year and it's continued in the playoffs. He's pretty incredible and everybody's getting to see it."
Four innings later, after the Dodgers clawed back behind a two-run single from Justin Turner and homers by Chris Taylor and Max Muncy to make it 5-5, Freeman added a long ball of his own on the first pitch off Los Angeles reliever and former Braves pitcher Alex Wood. For a lineup that came in with the fewest HRs of any team in the postseason, it gave the Braves their first multi-homer game since Sept. 19.
"We're not the biggest home run hitting team, so it was definitely different," Freeman said. "We are usually small-ball team. But it's definitely hard in the playoffs to get three hits in a row to score some runs. So when we got into that situation -- the Dodgers did it to us. They seemed to hit the big home run. Luckily Ronald was able to do that in the second inning, and I was able to get a pitch up in the sixth. It's very tough to get three in a row, so sometimes you just need to have the key ones."
After Braves starter Sean Newcomb walked for the game's first run, and Atlanta's first in the first three games of the series, Acunã found himself up 3-0 on Buehler -- who flirted with a no-hitter in the NL West tiebreaker against the Rockies and who entered the postseason with the league's lowest batting average against (.184) -- before he watched a questionable fourth pitch, a 97-mph four-seam fastball, be called for a strike.
Acuña didn't hesitate on the next offering, tagging Buehler for just his third home run allowed since Aug. 5., while supplanting a legend in the process. On the topic of Mantle, when asked if he recognized the name, the Venezuelan drew laughs from the collection of reporters when he replied, "No, I don't recognize him. I wasn't even born."
As he and the rookie walked out of the interview room, Freeman quipped, "I'll work with him on Mickey Mantle."
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2. Now comes the hard part: defying the odds
The Braves have extended their season another day, pushing the series to a Game 4 on Monday night in Atlanta. Staying alive is one thing, but a comeback from an 0-2 deficit is a decidedly daunting task.
In all, 81 best-of-five series have started out 2-0, including all but one in these LDS, with only the Yankees and Red Sox tied after two games. The Brewers became the 47th team to punctuate that start with a sweep as they finished off the Rockies on Sunday with a 6-0 rout.
Just 10 teams have ever come back from that deficit to win a series, most recently with the Yankees knocking out the Indians in five games.
The Dodgers have never been in this situation, though, as all three series leads they've had in the divisional round -- 2008 vs. the Cubs, '09 against the Cardinals and last season with the Diamondbacks -- ended in sweeps.
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3. Mike Foltynewicz gets shot at redemption in Game 4
Mike Foltynewicz's season has been about his growth, as he turned into a first-time All-Star and one of the 10 most valuable starters in the NL with a 3.9 fWAR. Now he'll need to kick that year-long narrative into high gear as the Game 1 starter takes the mound again for Atlanta in Monday's Game 4.
"He's raring to go and itching to get the ball, and it's still elimination," Snitker said. "So we're going to try and go with the best we got."
Foltynewicz was pulled after just two innings and 50 pitches in the series opener, giving up a leadoff home run to Joc Pederson and a three-run shot by Max Muncy in Atlanta's 6-0 loss in Los Angeles. It marked the shortest start of his career.
While he's had a strong season with a 2.85 ERA, 3.37 FIP and became the first pitcher in franchise history with at least 200 strikeouts -- he fanned 202 -- and an opponents' batting average below .200 -- it sat at .194 -- Foltynewicz has had his problems with top-tier offenses.
With last Thursday's Game 1 start included, Foltynewicz has made 13 starts against opponents ranking in the top 10 in collective offensive WAR -- that's two starts vs. Los Angeles' top-ranked offense, two vs. the Red Sox (second), two against the Cubs (fifth), one each vs. the Brewers (seventh) and Cardinals (ninth) and five against the Nationals (10th) -- and he has a 4.16 ERA.
The Braves will be banking on him flipping that script with their season on the line, with Snitker noting that Opening Day starter Julio Teheran -- who has yet to be used in this series -- could be potential fall back if things go awry or may be looked upon to start if Atlanta can push the series back to Dodger Stadium for a decisive Game 5 on Wednesday.
Since Aug. 2, Teheran has the third-lowest batting average against in the majors at .163, which is behind only Buehler, the Dodgers' Game 3 starter, and the Rays' potential American League Cy Young winner Blake Snell.
"If the wheels fall off, yeah," Snitker said. If something happens early, we still have Julio. But, I don't know, we'll have to kind of reassess that. We really didn't have a chance to sit there. But if we win, we got a day off. We're OK."