Over the years, the Atlanta Braves have had many great postseason moments. As we gear up for the 2023 playoffs we are reminiscing on some of the best. Today, we are looking at an extra-inning home run in the 2010 NLDS by Rick Ankiel.
Rick Ankiel has one of the best feel-good stories in MLB history. He was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2nd round of the 1997 MLB draft as a pitcher. He had a live lefty arm that St. Louis was excited about. Ankiel made his MLB debut in 1999 and was 2nd in Rookie of the Year voting in 2000. Then... along came adversity.
After the 2001 season, Ankiel struggled so much throwing strikes and was facing a mental battle from it. He stepped away from the game until the 2004 season when he returned to the mound. Yet again, throwing the ball across the plate seemed impossible.
In 2005, Ankiel made the conversion from pitcher to outfielder. If any conversion is made, it is usually the other way around. Ankiel became a solid defender with an absolute cannon for an arm and a good enough hitter to find himself playing every day. The Braves acquired Ankiel from the Royals via trade in 2010.
Ankiel played 47 games with the Atlanta Braves in 2010. He hit .210 with only 2 homers and 9 RBIs. That made this playoff moment even more special for Rick Ankiel.
After reaching the NLDS to face the San Fransico Giants, the Braves dropped game one of the series. Game 2 was tied 4-4 going into the 11th inning. Ankiel had faced so much adversity and slumps to get to this at-bat. He stepped into the left-handed batter's box with one out in a tie game. In a 1-1 count, he did this:
This home run gave Atlanta a 5-4 lead which held to be the final score. This was the only game the Braves won in the 2010 playoffs but they did it in a very memorable way thanks to Rick Ankiel.
Ankiel may not have been the most memorable player in Atlanta history but he sure provided a moment of excitement for Braves fans during a tough series with an incredible San Francisco Giants team, which would go on to win the World Series that season.