The Atlanta Braves can exhale after their exhilarating 4-3 win against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday night tied the NLDS at 1-1.

Putting it another way, however, they’ll need to take at least one of the next two games in L.A. to ensure that the series returns to the friendly confines of Turner Field.

Avoiding a mini-slump on the West Coast is easier said than done for a club that underachieved so much on the road during the 2013 regular season. These splits illustrate how much the Braves’ performance wanes outside of Atlanta:

All of the above contributed to the discrepancy in win-loss record: 56-25 at home and 40-41 in foreign environments.

It’s not entirely inexplicable. For example, the Braves lost Jason Heyward to an appendectomy on April 22 and played 16 of the next 22 games on the road before he returned to the lineup. Their record during that stretch was 9-13.

One thing is certain—the 48,966 fans who showed up for Game 2 certainly made their presence felt.

But let’s be brutally honest. The Braves fanbase perennially disappoints at the turnstile, and this summer was no exception.

According to, Atlanta’s total home attendance was 13th in the majors. That’s despite the fact that Turner Field has one of the largest capacities of any venue. When ranking by percentage of seats filled, the Braves finished in the bottom third, trailing non-competitive, mid-market franchises like the Colorado Rockies and Minnesota Twins.

Therefore, it’s ridiculous to claim that playing in front of supporters is responsible for their dominance during homestands.

More likely, Turner Field’s generous dimensions suit their individuals’ skill sets.

While the distances take away home runs from opposing teams, the Braves aren’t significantly affected. Position players like Evan Gattis and Justin Upton regularly take vicious hacks and willingly accept strikeouts, knowing that making solid contact results in a round-tripper, regardless of the ballpark conditions.

Then there are the intangible-yet-apparent perks of sleeping in your own bed and being surrounded by family and friends.

The probable pitching matchups for Games 3 and 4 at Dodger Stadium are Julio Teheran vs. Hyun-Jin Ryu and Freddy Garcia vs. Ricky Nolasco. Atlanta is at an obvious disadvantage for the latter contest, as the journeyman Garcia doesn’t consistently provide lengthy outings, nor does he generate swings-and-misses.

Thankfully, Teheran can exploit the element of surprise. The right-hander has posted a 3.20 earned run average this season with nearly four times as many strikeouts as walks, and the Dodgers haven’t been a witness to any of it. That lack of first-hand experience could cost them, whereas the Braves face no such issue with Nolasco, who was a longtime nemesis of theirs in the NL East.

Despite grossly underachieving on the road earlier in 2013, expect the Braves to steal a game in Chavez Ravine thanks to their 22-year-old right-hander. That will give them the opportunity to fend off elimination in familiar surroundings.


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