ATLANTA -- After committing a couple of costly mistakes in Game 1 of the National League Division Series on Thursday night, Braves rookie Evan Gattis received some simple, yet sound advice from Gerald Laird, who is bidding to participate in his third consecutive World Series.
"I told him, 'You've already [messed] up enough, it can't get any worse, so just relax and play the game,'" Laird said.
During Thursday night's Game 1 loss to the Dodgers, the Braves seemed to be victimized by the lack of postseason experience possessed by many of their regulars. Gattis misplayed a two-out liner in left field and then got doubled off first base on a fly ball to right field less than 10 minutes later.
Jason Heyward allowed adrenaline to get the best of him when he missed the cutoff man while trying to prevent Yasiel Puig from scoring on a sacrifice fly. These mistakes added to the already great challenge Clayton Kershaw provided with his seven solid innings.
But while evening this best-of-five series with Friday night's 4-3 win, the Braves appeared to be much more relaxed. Andrelton Simmons broke the tension with a two-out RBI double in the second inning, and Mike Minor never blinked while allowing just one run, despite surrendering eight hits over 6 1/3 innings.
Atlanta hitting coach Greg Walker was happy with the approach his guys had against Kershaw and further pleased with the results that were realized as the Braves scored each of their four runs on Friday with two-out hits recorded by Heyward, Chris Johnson and Simmons.
While Heyward had the opportunity to play in the 2010 NLDS, Johnson and Simmons are still getting used to the October scene. Both entered Sunday night's Game 3 with fewer than 12 postseason plate appearances during their career.
"The focus level gets so good because the adrenaline and energy is so high," Walker said. "It's just a different ballgame than the regular season. You look to see if guys panic to see if the moment is too big for them. I haven't seen any of that yet."
Mark Bowman and Quinn Roberts are reporters for MLB.com. AJ Cassavell is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less