Brian Snitker: ‘They have nothing to hang their heads about’

Atlanta Braves manager Brian Snitker talks to President & CEO Mike Plant (not pictured) during a batting practice prior to Game 4 of the 2023 National League Division Series at Citizens Bank Park, Thursday, October 12, 2023, in Philadelphia. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Atlanta Braves manager Brian Snitker talks to President & CEO Mike Plant (not pictured) during a batting practice prior to Game 4 of the 2023 National League Division Series at Citizens Bank Park, Thursday, October 12, 2023, in Philadelphia. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Q. Did you have time to talk to the team, and what did you tell them?

A. Yeah. It’s one of those things where you’ve been with them for seven, seven and a half months. Pretty much just told them they have nothing to hang their heads about. It stinks what just happened.

We wanted to go deep into this postseason, but I said it my first meeting every year, it’s like we want to check the first box, win the division because you never know what might happen. And we hit 300 some homers and didn’t happen in this playoff series.

So just one of them things. But I told them how proud I was of them, and you can’t underscore -- what happened this year was phenomenal, a phenomenal year for our club. Didn’t end the way we wanted it to, but it doesn’t always do that in this game. But I said take a couple of months off and then we’re going to go back to North Port in the middle of February and gear up to do it again.

Q. Anything you can put your finger on in terms of why the offense didn’t show up as you expected?

A. No. That’s a good question. I mean, we thought we did everything possible during the delay, recreated things the best we could. And we can do everything right and all that and you start a series, and you know what, your offense doesn’t get traction. I mean it could happen anytime. It happens in series, over the course of the summer.

I don’t know that we could have done anything any better or been more thorough in what we did with our time off to get us ready to play, other than the fact that you know what, when you’re doing that, the adrenaline and playing for something that’s not there. You know what, that’s a big deal.

But the players were unbelievable in how they handled it all, the energy, the focus that they had. Yeah, I don’t know that we can do it any better.

Q. You always say the postseason can be a crap shoot, as you kind of mentioned a couple minutes ago. How tough is that to come to grips with when you did have so many wins?

A. Yeah. It’s hard. Wait a minute. It’s tough. It takes a while to get over something like this after the year we had, the expectation we have here.

But you know what, it’s -- all the credit, I mean the Phillies stifled us. I mean they pitched really well. They had great plans. Their guys got big hits. I mean you can’t take anything away from that. Oh, my God. We got beat and didn’t play good enough to win the series. It’s as simple as that. We got beat by a really good club that has a pension for this time of year.

At the end of the year -- it’s a good club, good club. As I said, I told our guys, we got nothing to be ashamed of. It’s still tough.

Q. Last year you had (Max) Fried and (Spencer) Strider both coming in with injuries or illness. How much did the pitching play into it this year not having Charlie (Morton)?

A. It’s always big when you don’t have one of your starters, especially a guy with the pedigree of Charlie. It’s not ideal. But you know what, I mean as I told Spencer, he kind of wanted to do more, and I was like, my God, all the jams he got out of and how he pitched today and gave up three solo homers. He left it all out there. And he threw the heck out of the ball Game 1, too. Just so proud of that kid where he’s come this year. I mean, my God, he’s weathered storms more than us once in his first full year as a Major League reliever. And to see how he went out here in this postseason, this kid -- the sky is the limit for him.

Q. We saw the Braves of yesteryear do it to Barry Bonds. We saw the Diamondbacks do it to (the Dodgers’) Freddie (Freeman) and Mookie (Betts) this week. When you see Ronald (Acuna Jr.) and Matt (Olson) have this kind of series, was it game planned or was it the way they attacked? What do you see?

A. I don’t know. I don’t know against guys of that caliber. It’s just things like that happen in baseball. Matt went, what, 15 days without a homer or something like that over the course of the summer. But it’s magnified on this stage, but it happens. It’s baseball.

And those two guys, my God, one, two, whatever, and MVP. They shouldn’t go home and tomorrow and sit in their easy chairs and whatever and feel good about everything they’ve accomplished these last seven and a half months. But it’s kind of -- I don’t know. I can’t explain it. I don’t know what the remedy is. It’s just baseball. It happens and stinks when it does.

Q. You guys have had a lot of success against the Phillies these last couple of years in the regular season.

A. Yeah.

Q. You get here these last two years. What really changes that makes --

A. I don’t know. I mean, that’s a good question. I wish I had the secret sauce for that. Like I said, this is an experienced, really good club. I mean, I feel like last year all of a sudden, they got everybody healthy. And they got big-time players on this team. Yeah, I don’t know. I really don’t know.

Q. You’ve talked about crazy things happen in the playoffs, and they’ve always happened in the playoffs, but the last few years where teams have had byes, where they’ve had extended time, baseball being such a game of rhythm, whatever the right amount of teams should be in the playoffs, do you think the system ought to be that there isn’t --

A. I’m not going to say that’s an excuse for us. I look at the Astros. It didn’t bother them. They kind of kept hitting on all cylinders. I remember I used to ask Bobby if he worried about clinching too early, even for the playoffs, and he never did. I mean it was always like, no. You know what, and we go into this next year, we’re going to try and fight like heck to get home field, win the division.

It’s not ideal, and that’s why we, I think, this year we changed the format of our week. Like I said, it’s not ideal, but you know what, if we want to put ourselves in that position, we gotta figure out a way, whether it’s just internally or whatever. Because, you know, it is. This game is -- I said I always worried at the All-Star break when we got four days off, but the whole industry does. So it’s different.

It’s hard, you know, when you’re in this, an every day sport. I never liked two days off as a team or whatever. I think one day is plenty. But you know what, it’s what it is, and we gotta figure it out.

Q. From your vantage point, did you think Ronald’s ball was going to drop there in the seventh?

A. Yeah. I didn’t think he clipped it great, but there’s a lot of balls over the course of the summer that I see get in the air, and all of a sudden, they just keep carrying. And when a guy like that hits it, you never know. I don’t know the exit velocity or anything like that. But when he hit it, I thought, man. When I saw the outfielder kind of holding up a little bit, I thought maybe this ball is going to be off the wall. I was hoping.

Q. You credited the Phillies. How much different are they now than a couple of years ago because of the bullpen and the type of arms?

A. No. Their starters, they’ve done a great job with their bullpen. You know, it’s just a really solid, good team.

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