Now Braves benefitting from Ozuna’s playoff powers

Credit: TNS

Credit: TNS

That Marcell Ozuna was known to display some destructive behavior in the postseason was no secret to the Braves. He certainly wrecked them while with St. Louis last season, hitting .476 in a five-game National League Division Series. His two home runs kept St. Louis alive in a potential elimination Game 4 for the Cards.

On Thursday he used his postseason powers for good, motivating the Braves to a 10-2 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers. With that the Braves took a firm hold of this NL Championship Series, leading 3-games-to-1, needing one more win to return to a World Series for the first time since 1999.

Regardless of what uniform he’s wearing, Ozuna enjoys October. “It’s a time you’re not going to have every year. God gave me the opportunity to play two years in a row. I have to do my best,” he said when he was done damaging the Dodgers on Thursday night.

He reprised his two-homer night of last season, adding a single and double to his haul. Four hits, four RBIs, the first such game in Braves postseason history. His was the eighth multi-homer game in Braves postseason history, the first since Chipper Jones hit a pair of two-run home runs in the 2001 NLDS against the Chicago Cubs.

Reporting to work following what could have been a dispiriting 15-3 loss in Game 3, Ozuna set the same tone has he has all season as the Braves big one-year free-agent acquisition. “Come in happy and give best to my teammates and pump it up,” he said.

“The energy he brings is unbelievable,” the Braves' Game 4 winner Bryse Wilson said. “It’s translated throughout the whole team. This team is so much fun to be around and he’s a big part of it for sure.”

Ozuna had been uncharacteristically quiet at the plate for the Braves, though, hitting just .200 with one home run in the eight postseason games before Thursday. When he reported to work for Game 4 he decided to skip batting practice and take to the batting cage out of sight and work out his issues.

“I was struggling a little, jumping forward. I swing crazy. I stayed inside and hit in the cage off the machine, (working on) staying a little bit more back the way I was before the season ended and got some success,” he said.

On display was the Ozuna who led the National League in both home runs (18) and RBI (56) this season. He backed up all the positivity he brought to the park with production. Didn’t matter who the Dodgers threw at him. Ozuna had an RBI against three different Dodgers pitchers, two of them via solo home run and run-scoring double off three-time Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw.

Speaking of Ozuna’s impact, Braves manager Brian Snitker said, “What he did to the middle of our lineup – I don’t think you could go out and find anybody that did more for our club this year than Marcell.” That point was capitalized and underlined Thursday night.

And so many opportunities to show off his celebratory, imaginary selfies after scoring a run, a schtick Ozuna began at the wild-card stage of the playoffs.

“It’s another idea to have fun. Let’s go,” he said.

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