Derek Lowe was amazingly good and the offense came out swinging early, but they couldn’t keep it up and Cody Ross did them in. A two-run seventh tied and put the Giants ahead for good, ending the series and Bobby Cox’s career.
The Braves loaded the bases with two outs in the second, but Lowe flied out to end the threat. They went ahead in the third on a sac fly RBI by Brian McCann. The Braves were aggressive early against a not-so-impressive Madison Bumgarner, but they couldn’t manage more than the one run through five.
Cody Ross hit a solo homer in the sixth to tie it, but the Braves came right back in the home half with a solo homer by McCann to put them back ahead. Lowe walked one and allowed an infield single with one out in the seventh, and Cox went out to pull Lowe, but Derek talked his way into staying in. He walked the next batter to load the bases. Peter Moylan got the grounder in the 5-6 hole and Alex Gonzalez threw to second from his knees, but the throw might have pulled Omar Infante off the bag. That play is called out in the regular season, but it really doesn’t matter considering they weren’t turning a double play, so the tying run scored. Jonny Venters came in and got a strikeout for two outs, but Ross struck again with a two-out RBI single for the 3-2 lead.
McCann singled in the eighth but was left on. Brian Wilson walked two in the ninth but got two straight outs from Omar Infante and Melky Cabrera to end it. How fitting is it that the season ended on a Melky chopper to third?
The Braves’ best chance was getting early runs off Bumgarner, but it didn’t happen. McCann did his best to carry the offense, going 2-3 with a homer and two RBIs. Jason Heyward went 2-4 from the sixth spot. Matt Diaz went 1-3 from the second spot, and Melky took his spot and for some reason got two at bats after Bumgarner was pulled. Diory Hernandez came in for Troy Glaus in the seventh and got an at bat, striking out on the ninth pitch.
If there’s something positive to take from this game, it’s Lowe. The guy was as dominating as he’s ever been in a Braves uniform, not allowing his first hit until the Ross home run in the sixth. That and late control problems as he neared 100 pitches were his only mistakes. I don’t blame Cox at all for leaving him in in the seventh. Lowe allowed just two hits and three runs in 6.1 innings, walking two and striking out eight.
Looking back, the story of this postseason for the Braves is “what if.” What if the Braves had Chipper Jones, Martin Prado, Kris Medlen, Billy Wagner, Jair Jurrjens…? What if Brooks Conrad had not played? But that’s what happens once you’re eliminated.
Under the circumstances, it was a good season for the Braves. They fought hard to the last out for Bobby Cox and probably shouldn’t have reached as far as they did. It’s disappointing that they couldn’t go further for Bobby, but I have a feeling how they played for him is equally rewarding to him. Thank you to one of the greatest managers of all time, and the greatest of this generation. It won’t be the same without him.