Baseball-Almanac.com's Divisional Series section
1996 National League Divisional Series:
Atlanta Braves (3), Los
Angeles Dodgers (0)
The '96 Divisional Series pitted two postseason veterans, the Atlanta Braves, who had beaten the Colorado Rockies 3-games-to-1 in the '95 affair against the Los Angeles Dodgers, who had been humiliated by the Cincinnati Reds 3-games-to-none. On the other side, two new arrivals, the St. Louis Cardinals and San Diego Padres both prepared to face-off for their first NL Divisional title.
Determined to "save-face" for their previous season's embarrassing performance (in which they were outscored 22-7), the Dodgers managed to go the distance (and then some) forcing extra-innings in Game 1 after "time expired" with a 1-1 tie. Javier Lopez of the Atlanta Braves however, quickly ended LA's optimism after hitting a game-winning homer in the 10th. The Dodgers continued their emotional roller coaster ride in Game 2 after surrendering a 2-1 lead in the 7th inning after Fred McGriff and Jermaine Dye both hit home runs off of pitcher Ismael Valdes. The result was another heartbreaking loss (3-2) and a two-game deficit in the Series. Nothing changed in Game 3 as an "up-and-coming" superstar named Chipper Jones, hit a key two-run homer off Hideo Nomo to help the Braves defeat the Dodgers, 5-2. It was the second consecutive sweep of Los Angeles in the Divisional Series and the second of eight consecutive NLDS appearances for Atlanta.
St. Louis made their divisional playoff debut with a 3-1 opening victory over the Padres thanks entirely to Gary Gaetti, who hit a three-run homer in the first inning to lead his Cardinals to victory. The following day, teammate Ron Gant (who had helped the Cincinnati Reds sweep the Dodgers in '95) followed Gaetti's example and snagged a three-run double in the 5th for a 5-4 victory and a 2 game lead in the Series. Despite the best efforts of National League MVP Ken Caminiti (who hit 2 homers) Game 3 ended in a 7-5 defeat thanks to Brian Jordan who came up huge with the Series-winning two-run homer in the top of the 9th. The Padres, still reeling from the sweep, went on to shock everyone in the coming seasons after bouncing from first place, ('96) to last, ('97) and back again to first ('98) before playing for another divisional crown. St. Louis eventually lost to the Braves in the Championship, then waited four long seasons before getting another shot. Surprisingly, both teams would make it to the ALCS in their next playoff appearance - although the Padres would emerge as the only ones to actually reach the World Series before suffering yet another sweep at the hands of the New York Yankees.
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