If you watched the first four innings of last nights game you would think the Braves got dominated as Roy Halladay cruised to yet another complete game shutout. But if you got upset after watching Tommy Hanson stumble through 3 2/3 innings with 8 hits and 4 runs allowed on 95 pitches, then you missed out on a really good game.
Because in the fifth inning Roy Halladay did something extremely un-Doc-like. He blew a 6 run lead. Chipper Jones started the inning off with a single to center field. After that Eric Hinske and Tyler Pastornicky both singled to load up the bases. Juan Francisco came in to pinch hit for Christian Martinez and popped out. Then a red-hot Bourn came up and started the scoring with a hard single through the right side of the infield to score Chipper Jones. Martin Prado had a well earned infield hit as he dribbled a ball to Placido Polanco, but managed to hustle it out. Freddie Freeman then popped up and it looked like Roy Halladay might get out of the inning with just 2 runs let up.
Brian McCann thought otherwise and hit a gorgeous shot over the right field fence, giving him his 8th grand slam of the year as well as a tie game. Michael Bourn decided to hit him in the eye after he came home but I can’t get too mad at him since he started the scoring in the inning.
The next inning Hinske started things off with a single, Tyler Pastornicky followed with a bloop double, and Jason Heyward stepped in for a 2-run pinch-hit single. That finished things off for Roy Halladay.
Everything was going well for the Braves at this point. They managed a ridiculously unlikely come back against one of the games best pitchers and it seemed like they just HAD to come away with a win.
Then the Phillies took the lead right back. In the seventh inning Eric O’Flaherty came into the game and walked the first batter, Ty Wiggington. John Mayberry singled to right, and Carlos Ruiz immediately followed up with a three run shot to give the Phillies the lead and the momentum. It was 9-8 Phillies going into the bottom of the seventh.
John Mayberry showed off some ‘defense’ in the seventh turning what should be routine catches into diving and running into the wall catches. He had bad reads on both balls, but still managed to get the outs. No dice for the Braves during the inning as McCann flew out to Hunter Pence to make it 3 up 3 down.
Tyler Pastornicky made the top of the 8th interesting with 1 error and one hit that should have been charged an error on him. Kris Medlen worked quickly (as always) and got the first two batters before back to back botched balls by TP. Kris Medlen then walked John Mayberry and the devil Carlos Ruiz doubled down the right field line to score every person on base and give the Phillies a 12-8 lead.
Uggla started things off for the Braves in the 8th as he tomahawk chopped a ball at his eyes for a single. It was ugly but it worked. Chipper then grounded to Jimmy Rollins in what looked like a routine double play ball, but J-Roll dropped the ball on his exchange and both guys were safe. Matt Diaz pinch hit for the bulldog, Kris Medlen and struck out. Tyler Pastornicky came up after Matty and felt bad for blowing the lead further, so he hit a single up the middle and scored Dan Uggla from second.
Heyward followed up with a great at bat and drew a walk to load the bases. Please note that at this point in the game I was freaking out. It was extremely intense and regardless of whether we won or lost at this point I was proud of the team and it had been one of the better games I had seen in a while. Michael Schwimer came in and walked Bourn on 4 straight pitches to make the game 12-10 with the bases loaded, one out, and Martin Prado up.
Prado continued to be clutch and drove a single up the middle to score 2 and tie the game up again (that is a team-wide again, not saying that Prado did it twice). Freddie Freeman stepped up to the plate with runners on the corners and one out. The fans (who were extremely involved throughout) started chanting his name over and over again, and my heart rate kept climbing. Freeman then flew out deep enough to Mayberry to score Michael Bourn and take the lead again, and the crowd went wild. It was intense in Braves Country at the field, throughout living rooms, and on Twitter.
After Brian McCann popped up to center field the game was put in the hands of Craig Kimbrel, who needed just three outs to put away a truly incredible game. Kimbrel started off Juan Pierre’s at bat with a fastball straight at the feet. It didn’t get any better as he threw three more balls to issue a leadoff walk to Juan. At this point I’m having flashbacks to EOF’s 7th inning and praying we aren’t seeing something similar.
Pierre didn’t take long to steal second, and did so in the middle of Jimmy Rollins at bat. Kimmy started Rollins 0-2 but he worked it full and ended up getting called out on a pretty close back door curve. In hindsight it was probably a ball but hey, I’m not saying anything. 1 down.
The devil Carlos Ruiz came up next and grounded to Jask Wilson at short but moved Juan Pierre to third. 2 out. I’m shaking.
Shane Victorino then grounded up the middle and despite a fantastic play by Jack Wilson, the flyin Hawaiian beat it out and scored Pierre in the process. Tie game AGAIN. 2 outs… still.
Kimbrel struck out Hunter Pence but the damage from the pitching was done for the third time, and it was up to the offense to come through for the third time in the bottom of the ninth. Lead off walks will get ya’.
Dan Uggla came up and led off the ninth with a huge shot to left-center that was going, going… caught at the warning track. One out in the ninth for the Braves.
Chipper was up next and he took a Brian Sanchez change into right field for a single. Jack Wilson followed with another single and Fredi Gonzalez did something he never does: Pinch hit with David Ross. Granted that was his only option left on the bench but it was awesome that he finally got him in their to hit.
Unfortunately David Ross struck out on three pitches but not all hope was lost. Jason Heyward was up next with two outs and two on in the bottom of the ninth. You can’t write a better script than that. Jason didn’t try to do too much however and took his second walk of the game to load the bases and bring up the scorching Michael Bourn, with the bases loaded and two outs in the ninth.
However, Bourn popped up on the second pitch of the at bat to send the game to extras.
In the top of the tenth it was Jonny Venters on the mound hoping to put up the first 0 in three innings for the Atlanta bullpen, and also redeem himself for the previous game. Venters went to a 3-2 count and again we thought of the previous innings and lead off walks. The fans even started booing a bit because they saw it coming too. Jonny struck out Ty Wigginton on the next pitch however to get them cheering. They kept cheering as he struck out John Mayberry as well. The devil Carlos Ruiz was up next but Venters induced a ground ball straight into the ground and McCann made a nice bare-hand to throw him out and give the Braves another shot at the walk off.
Martin Prado grounded out and Freddie followed with a strikeout to put McCann up with 2 outs in the bottom of the tenth. McCan got behind in the count 0-2 and sent a ball deep to right but it was caught by Hunter Pence.
Braves go to the 11th and it’s getting late, the bullpen is almost gone (please not Durbin) and we still have a tie game. This ‘recap’ is also at 1426 words.
Chad Durbin comes into the game… and got a three up three down inning on 8 PITCHES. Atta boy.
Dan Uggla started things off with a lead off single on Sanches’ first pitch. Chipper hit a long ball over the fence, but just pulled it foul. It would have been awesome to see Chipper Jones hit the walk off in this game… so he did it anyways. With a full count he took an outside fastball over the right-center wall, a no doubter, and a fantastic way to finish what Chipper called the best game of his career. Braves win 15-13.
I wish everyone here could experience that feeling. That game takes the cake as far as my career goes.
We learned a lot in this game. We learned that baseball as a whole has to rethink it’s bullpen management, we learned that this Braves team is in fact different than last year’s we learned that it is possible to write a recap longer than 1600 words, we learned that lead off walks kill, no pitcher is perfect, any lead can be lost. But mostly we learned that baseball is truly an amazing game.