Braves break playoff drought, pick up first series win since 2001

Braves break playoff drought, pick up first series win since 2001
ATLANTA, GA - OCTOBER 01: Marcell Ozuna #20 of the Atlanta Braves reacts after Acuna's run scoring double in the fifth inning of Game Two of the National League Wild Card Series against the Cincinnati Reds at Truist Park on October 1, 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images) (Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)

ATLANTA — The Braves haven’t won a playoff series since 2001. The Reds haven’t won a playoff series since 1995. One of those streaks finally ended in this week’s National League Wild Card Series.

Thankfully for Atlanta fans, this is the Braves' year.

Atlanta swept Cincinnati in the best-of-three series with a 5-0 win at Truist Park on Thursday. Ian Anderson pitched a two hit gem for six innings with nine strike outs and Marcell Ozuna and Adam Duvall each had home runs in the victory.

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The Braves will next face the Miami Marlins or Chicago Cubs in the National League Division Series. The NLDS will start Oct. 6 in a neutral-site at the Houston Astros' Minute-Maid Park.

Many had their concerns about the Braves pitching heading into the postseason. But Anderson, who made his seventh career start, looked cool, calm and collective.

Anderson told Channel 2′s Zach Klein after the game his heart was pounding early on. But the rookie right-hander settled down and looked nearly untouchable. Anderson allowed only two hits in six innings of work and struck out nine batters.

He became the third youngest pitcher to make his first playoff start, joining Steve Avery and Mike Soroka. Anderson was only three years old the last time the Braves won a playoff series.

Teammate Ronald Acuna Jr. was also only three years old when Braves last won in 2001. He got the offense going and drove home the game’s first run in the fifth inning. The Braves got some breathing room in the eighth with Ozuna’s home run to left centerfield. A few batters later, it’s Duvall at the plate and he goes yard for a 2-run homer.

Channel 2′s Alison Mastrangelo was at Truist Park for every pitch in this series. She asked Braves manager Brian Snitker what it meant to finally end the team’s 19-year playoff losing streak.

“I think it’s great. We go into every series, whether it’s playoffs or regular season, to win the series. We won this series. We can put that behind us and go ahead. But it feels good," Snitker said. "I told someone the other day, ‘Man, I really want to go to Houston. I want to go experience that. I want to get locked in another bubble.' I told the guys we’ve got a couple of boxes we want to check off. We checked off one today.