Braves out to snap their long postseason skid
Atlanta has gone 9-20 while dropping seven consecutive playoff series since 2001
No team outside of the Bronx has been a more regular postseason participant in the past 24 years than the Atlanta Braves.
The Braves host the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 1 of the National League Division Series on Thursday night at 8:30 p.m. ET on TBS -- Atlanta's 17th appearance in the past 22 postseasons.
The Braves are trying to snap a streak of seven consecutive postseason series losses, equaling the Dodgers and Astros for the second-longest streak in Major League history.
The Chicago Cubs won back-to-back World Series championships in 1907-08, but lost the next 10 postseason series they played. They lost World Series in 1910, '18, '29, '32, '35, '38 and '45, the NL Championship Series in '84 and '89, and the NLDS in '98. The Cubs were 12-38 overall in those 10 series, and they were swept in the '32, '35 and '38 World Series, and the '98 NLDS. The Cubs finally beat Atlanta in five games in the 2003 NLDS, but they lost to the Marlins in the NLCS.
Atlanta's streak of postseason series losses began in the 2001 NLCS, when Arizona knocked off the Braves in five games en route to a World Series championship. The Braves have since lost in the NLDS in 2002-05 and '10, and a year ago, they were knocked off in the NL Wild Card Game vs. St. Louis. They were 9-20 during those seven postseason appearances.
The Dodgers' losing streak covered seven World Series -- 1916, '20, '41, '47, '49, '52-53. They snapped the streak by beating the New York Yankees in seven games in '55. The Yankees had been the winners in the previous five World Series the Dodgers had lost during the streak. The Dodgers also lost to Boston in '16 and Cleveland in '20. The Dodgers were 13-29 during the losing streak.
Houston matched the postseason losing streak during a 22-year stretch that began with losing to Philadelphia in the 1980 NLCS and continued through 2001, when the Astros were swept by Atlanta in the NLDS. They also lost in the LCS in 1986, and in the NLDS in '81, '97-99. The Astros were 8-22 during those seven series.
Both Minnesota and Oakland lost six postseason series in a row. The Twins lost in the 2002 American League Championship Series and the AL Division Series in '03-04, '06, '09 and '10, winning only three of 22 games. The A's lost the 1990 World Series, '92 ALCS and the ALDS in 2000-03.
• The Cardinals used 20 rookies during the regular season and yet finished with the best record in the NL at 97-65. No team has used 20 or more rookies during the regular season and gone on to win the World Series, according to STATS Inc. The only team to reach the World Series after using at least 20 rookies in the regular season was the 1903 Pirates, who lost to the Boston Americans in eight games (5-3).
• With two home runs in Pittsburgh's NL Wild Card Game win over Cincinnati, Russell Martin joined Hall of Famers Johnny Bench (Game 4, 1976 World Series) and Gary Carter (Game 4, '86 World Series) as the only NL catchers to have multihomer postseason games.
• Dodgers shortstop Hanley Ramirez will make his postseason debut coming off a season in which he became the first shortstop to hit .345 or better with at least 20 home runs Ramirez finished the regular season with a .345 average and 20 home runs despite being limited by injuries to 86 games.
• Tampa Bay may not have a home-field advantage in the postseason, but the Rays haven't shown any sign in the past that they will struggle on the road, at least in AL parks. While the Rays dropped three 2008 World Series games at Philadelphia, they are 7-3 in postseason road games in AL parks. They won at Cleveland in the AL Wild Card Game on Wednesday, split two games at Texas in the '11 ALDS, won both games at Texas in the '10 ALDS, took two of three at Fenway Park against Boston in the '08 ALCS and split two games with the White Sox in Chicago in the '08 ALDS.
• Oakland's starting pitchers led the AL in lowest opposing average (.245) and on-base percentage (.298), and they were second in ERA (3.72).
• Joaquin Benoit provided late-inning stability for Detroit's bullpen. Moved into the closer role in mid-June, he converted 24 of 26 saves. The two blown saves, however, came in two of Benoit's final four regular-season appearances, at Minnesota and Miami, and he had a 4.38 ERA in September.
Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.