ATLANTA — Atlanta sports fans are understandably gun shy.
As the ninth inning arrived and the Braves found themselves nursing a two-run lead, three outs from reversing last year's pain, there were probably more than a few fans who thought to themselves: Here we go again.
Instead, they would have barely had time to even start biting their nails.
Will Smith, the Braves closer, came in and shut the door with hardly a peep from the Dodgers.
The left-hander first struck out Chris Taylor, who'd been a menace to Atlanta this series. Then he struck out Cody Bellinger, who'd hit the tying home run for Los Angeles in the deflating Game 3.
Then he got A.J. Pollock to ground to Dansby Swanson, who tossed it to first for the final out. It was all over in a few minutes.
For Braves fans fearing the worst, it was a remarkably comfortable conclusion.
But Smith, a 32-year-old who was born in Newnan and went to Northgate High School, has been rock steady for the Braves in the playoffs.
The Braves originally brought Smith on last year as a free agent before the 2020 season. He didn't pitch much during the regular season, but was quite good in the playoffs up until he helped cough up Game 5 of the NLCS.
He followed up on that with a decent regular season in 2021, saving 37 games in 43 opportunities with a 3.44 ERA in 68 innings of work.
But in the postseason, he's been perfect.
Game 6 on Saturday night was his seventh appearance of the postseason, and he has yet to allow a run. In seven innings he hasn't allowed a single run, with just three hits and two walks against him.
In that time he's struck out seven and converted each of his four save opportunities.
It's the kind of performance the Braves were hoping for when they signed him following a 2019 season where he was an All-Star with the San Francisco Giants.
It's never fun feeling nervous in the ninth inning - and fortunately for the Braves right now, with Smith at the top his game they pretty much never have to.