Easily the game of the year for the Atlanta Braves, thus far… can it possibly end the doldrums that this team has been mired in?
How far gone were the Atlanta Braves against the Phillies on Saturday night? Let me count the ways:
- Ian Anderson gave up 3 runs in the first two innings.
- No runs until the sixth (that homer by Freddie Freeman won a fan $1450!).
- Ronald Acuna Jr. was knocked out of the game by a pitch to his left-hand pinkie finger (Xrays negative).
- Braves only had 3 hits until the 9th.
- Down to their last strike in 2 different AB’s: Adrianza and Sandoval in the 9th… with nobody on before they came to the plate.
- No hit with runners in scoring position until the 11th inning… and that hit didn’t score the runner (it took an error).
- Josh Tomlin was used as a pinch runner. Max Fried was used as a pinch hitter.
- Behind by 2 entering the bottom of the 9th.
- Behind by 1 entering the bottom of the 11th.
- Behind by 3 entering the bottom of the 12th.
And yet… Atlanta somehow won this game by the improbable score of 8-7.
About the only thing missing from this craziness was a 4 AM fireworks show to wake up Southern Cobb County. That and perhaps a stand-in for Rick Camp.
Still, most of the big plate appearances came from the ‘down lineup’ players:
- 9th inning, Adrianza: worked an 8-pitch walk
- 9th inning, Sandoval: found a mistake in the middle of the plate on a 1-2 count and killed it.
- 11th inning, Fried: perfect sacrifice executed.
- 12th inning, Riley: worked a 10-pitch walk after going down 0-2.
- 12th inning, Contreras: the key hit… a bases-clearing double.
- 12th inning, Adrianza: winning single after being behind in the count 1-2 after 3 foul balls.
The Phillies have to believe that they did everything that they wanted to do to the Atlanta lineup: Acuna was 0 for 3; Albies just 1 for 5; Freeman 1 for 4; and Ozuna 0 for 5.
Those results usually doom Atlanta’s chances to win… and it’s still a matter that needs to be dealt with if this club is to get somewhere.
Braves pitching held together… mostly
After Anderson’s initial issues, he righted his own shop and managed to get through 6 full innings while giving up nothing more than the 3 early runs. That was huge, for it set up the bullpen for the rest of the night.
Luke Jackson actually had a 1-2-3 inning (!).
Tyler Matzek did likewise… and that took only 12 pitches.
Will Smith walked 1… and might have run into an umpire’s squeeze… but worked through a potentially treacherous 10th.
A.J. Minter struck out a pair, even though a single hit plated an 11th inning run.
Only Jacob Webb truly had trouble out of the bullpen (part of that being his own throwing error and a follow-up mental error), though his teammates bailed him out for the ultimate “cultured” win.
These wins are exceedingly rare — especially in this set of circumstances. Atlanta truly had no business winning this game… but they did.
Now let’s see if they can build on this and press forward — starting with a defeat of these Phillies again tonight.