In a gut-wrenching at-bat in the top of the seventh, the Braves right fielder and likely National League MVP came up with the bases loaded. The Phillies brought in closer Craig Kimbrel, a former Brave, who walked the bases loaded ahead of Acuna.
Acuna drove one into the left-center field gap that could have been a bases-clearing double, but the rookie ran it down, though he looked “a little shaky” while doing it. That ended the inning and continued a difficult series for Acuna, who is hitting just .154.
Another huge play happened at the start of the at-bat, when Kimbrel’s first pitch to Acuna got away from catcher J.T. Realmuto. Kevin Pillar, the runner at third, ran halfway down the line before stopping and dashing back to third. In hindsight, he would have scored easily.
The ball got so far away that pinch-runner Forrest Wall made it two-thirds of the way to third base before Pillar put on the brakes. It kept the score 3-1, and it stayed that way after Rojas made his catch.
Rojas was a nervous rookie, but Pillar is a veteran who lost his nerve at the worst time for the Braves. Experience isn’t everything in the playoffs, but sometimes speed is.