Best Moments in Braves Playoff History: Ronald Acuña Jr.'s NLDS Grand Slam

The 2018 NLDS didn't propel the Atlanta Braves to a World Series win but it did provide fans with an absolutely unforgettable moment in Game 3.

Divisional Round - Los Angeles Dodgers v Atlanta Braves - Game Three
Divisional Round - Los Angeles Dodgers v Atlanta Braves - Game Three / Scott Cunningham/GettyImages

There are so many great playoff moments in Atlanta Braves history to revisit. This time around we are going back to the 2018 season. 2018 was the beginning of a new era for the Braves as they called up their top prospect Ronald Acuña Jr.

Little did Braves fans know they were going to witness the rise of the new face of their franchise. The season wasn't without struggles as you'd expect a young player to make mistakes in their first season. However, Acuña Jr. also provided many moments of greatness throughout the season.

His first home run was an absolute smash into the second deck in Cincinnati and he hit a few more that season which were tape measure shots. He made some nice defensive plays in left field and center field as well. He really showed how valuable of a player he would become.

Ronald ended up batting .293 through 111 games played and crushed 26 home runs in his first season. His performance in the regular season earned him National League Rookie of the Year honors.

However, there's one home run that comes to mind when thinking back on 2018, and that occurred in the NLDS. The Atlanta Braves won their division in 2018 for the first time in 5 years, rebuilding over those previous seasons.

Their first task after winning the NL East? Face the powerful Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS. That's a tough draw for any team at the time but especially for a young team who outperformed everyone's expectations in 2018.

While the Braves didn't last very long and were eliminated by the Dodgers 3 games to 1 that year. Los Angeles went on to play in the World Series but lost the series to the Boston Red Sox 4-1.

Let's backtrack a bit to Game 3 of the 2018 NLDS as the Braves hosted the Dodgers at home. They faced a 2-0 deficit in the series and were on the verge of being sent home. Things in Game 3 got off to a very promising start as Atlanta didn't show signs of wanting to go home just yet.

In the bottom of the second inning, the Braves were starting to have success against Walker Buehler. With the bases loaded and 2 outs, Buehler walked pitcher Sean Newcomb on 4-straight pitches to give Atlanta a 1-0 lead. Who did this bring to the plate for a big moment? None other than Ronald Acuña Jr.

This set the stage for one of the most incredible moments in recent Braves history. It wasn't without drama, however. Acuña worked a 3-0 count and should have walked. For some reason, the home plate umpire called ball 4 a strike.

At the time, this upset a lot of fans because any runs you could get against the Dodgers back then were precious. Fortunately for Atlanta, this worked out in their favor.

Buehler tried to sneak a 98 mph fastball by Acuña but the Braves rookie was all over it. The pitch was down the middle and Ronnie sent a missile through the Atlanta night sky for a GRAND SLAM!

Truist Park, formerly known as SunTrust Park, was absolutely electric and palpable with energy. To this day, it's one of the loudest reactions in the history of the ballpark. Atlanta secured an early 5-0 lead over the Dodgers.

Of course, the Dodgers fought back and tied things up in the 5th inning. LA tried to take the lead in the 6th inning but was cut down by an amazing throw to Kurt Suzuki at the plate to prevent the run. It was an absolute bullet.

In the bottom half of the sixth, another iconic moment of this postseason happened with Freddie Freeman launching a first-pitch home run off of his former Braves teammate Alex Wood.

Chad Sobotka, A.J. Minter, and Arodys Vizcaino were able to keep the Dodgers off the board for the remaining 3 innings. Unfortunately, the Braves were only able to stave off elimination for one game. The Dodgers would win Game 4 and move on to the NLCS.

This set the stage for the Braves and Dodgers meeting in the postseason for the years that followed. The memories from this first meeting between the current two best teams in the National League will never be forgotten and that grand slam will be one Ronald Acuña Jr. will never forget.