Montreal 5, Atlanta 4

ESPN.com – MLB – Recap – Braves at Expos – 09/16/2003

Excuse me, I’m going to just bang my head on the desk for a moment.

Okay, I’m back. The Braves had a 4-1 lead with two out in the eighth, and lost. Ray King, in relief of Maddux, had retired the first two batters of the inning, but walked Endy Chavez, of all people. Bobby brought in Jaret Wright, who had nothing, and on a HBP and a single allowed one run. Will Cunnane got out of the inning, but then allowed two doubles and an infield single, getting only one out, in the ninth. Mercker came in and will wind up with a blown save, but realistically did as well as anyone could to get out of the inning with the game tied. Having used his top four relievers (lefties good, righties bad) trying to hold the lead, and probably hoping to hold Darren Holmes back in case he got another one, Bobby brought in Roberto Hernandez. Boom-Boom managed to get an out before losing the game.

In a similar situation a few days ago, I blamed the offense for not getting more runs. This time, it’s more the bullpen’s fault, but don’t let the hitters off the hook. The game was scoreless until the seventh, but the Braves had many opportunities to score after that. After Chipper drove in two with a single in the eighth, Andruw and Javy (more on him later) struck out with two men on. And in the tenth, they had first and third nobody out and bases loaded one out, and couldn’t score, Andruw again striking out.

Javy did catch, with Maddux pitching, and it went splendidly. Maddux went seven, allowed only four hits, struck out three, didn’t walk anyone, and needed only 82 pitches to do it. I think it’s safe to say that Maddux and Javy can work together. Unfortunately, Javy made the choice to hit like Henry Blanco, going 0-4 with two strikeouts… Chipper had a great game, a homer, three hits, three RBI. He now has 101 RBI for the season, the fourth Brave to hit three digits.

The Braves clinched a postseason berth anyway; the Phillies and Marlins play so many games against one another down the stretch that they can’t both catch the Braves, and the Dodgers lost. The Marlins’ loss to the Phillies moves the magic number to two. A Braves win, no matter what happens, would eliminate the Phillies; combined with a Phillie win it would clinch the division. Mike Hampton pitches tonight, and I bet Bobby has a slow hook.

10 thoughts on “Montreal 5, Atlanta 4”

  1. Any information on Smoltz? And it looks like Maddux will need to face Florida or Philadelphia to set the record (he’s struggled against both teams all season).

  2. Last I heard he would likely come back only for the last series of the season, maybe pitching once on Saturday. I suspect he can pitch but he wants to be extra careful and is concentrating on strengthening his arm.

  3. Mac, give your prediction on the braves chances this year. For some reason – I’ve mentally accepted that there’s a pretty good chance that we could get knocked out in the NLDS. I mean the Braves have been shabby lately, and if the season started today we would be just as good as the Expos. Our jump startto the season skews the numbers, but really we suck now. I have a feeling we’re in for another disappointing October. And I’m getting ready to throw all kinds of objects at my TV after 2 weeks. I think – if the season was 50 games the Braves would always win it all. But I don’t know. Sorry you guys have to all read this. I want to be more positive. Maybe you can help me (and remind me) why we should be more optimistic. I mean we’re gonna make it to the postseasons (yay!) but the Braves have only won it all once in this run. It seems like the norm for the Braves to make the playoffs…I want more. Sheff is right…”The laid-back attitude – I don’t really like it,” The braves seemed like they have lost it and after lastnite (seeing Cox Boom Boom in again) it makes me think we’ve learned very little and we’re going nowhere once again.

  4. Yes, this is the problem: should we be excited about going to the postseason or just worried that the Braves will lose again?

    Well first I will say that the season is not over yet. The Braves have the fortune of playing the Marlins and the Phillies both again (and 2 home expos games) before the season is out. Why is this good? Because one of those is likely to be a playoff team (or if not, at least they both are Contending For A Playoff Spot). That means that they will, or should be, playing with intensity. This is great for the Braves because they will have the chance to get into the mood. We’re not just gonna play the Mets and wonder whether we’ll be able to handle playoff-caliber teams at this point in the season. We’ll play playoff-caliber teams and see first-hand. The season ends in Philly, and it’s unlikely they will be more than 3 games up or 3 games out of playoff contention at that point, so the Braves’ last series will mean Something.

    Secondly, the best way I find to go about things like this is just to not take anything for granted. OK, i guess you took making the playoffs for granted with our 12 game lead in July. But i mean once we get there, the goal is not to win the world series. it’s to win game 1 of the division series. I mean, last year, did you watch the Giants series saying ‘we’re gonna lose, we’re gonna lose’ every single game? I hope not. The point is, you just have to acknowledge that nothing is given. Only 1 team wins everything each year. CAN the Braves do it? Yes. But so can a number of other teams. That number will be seven.

    If your team is in the MLB playoffs (it is!) and you still can’t get excited, I’m sorry for you. I understand why, but this is why people dog on Braves fans for being complacent. Just look at it as an opportunity, just like opening day. The Braves will be one of the elite eight teams playing in the 2003 postseason, and that is all any baseball fan could hope for. Once that first pitch is thrown, ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN.

    All postseasons are full of exciting stories and we can’t just sit here and assume we already know what this year’s are gonna be. Hampton’s first no-hitter? Javy’s game-winning grand slam? Barry Bonds getting thrown out at the plate by Sheffield to end the NLCS? Who knows. To me, that’s exciting.

  5. Maybe you can help me (and remind me) why we should be more optimistic.

    2 2 2 2 6 0 0 5 1 2 1 2 0 7 1

    The number of earned runs Maddux has allowed in each of his last fifteen starts.

    Other reasons for optimism: Hampton, Chipper, Sheffield, Lopez, Giles. All Furcal, Andruw, Castilla, Fick, Ortiz, Ramirez, Cunnane, Mercker, and King have to do collectively is not suck for this team to be as good as any. A healthy Smoltz would be the cherry on top.

  6. I guess all it took was Greg being desperate for a record and Javy to start hitting like Piazza for Greg to let it go.

    What an incredibly stupid thing to say.

    Chris Berman had been told before the Philadelphia game that Lopez would catch Maddux in his last three starts in preparation for the playoffs, and he talked about it during last Wednesday’s broadcast. The assumption was that the record would already be out of the way by the time it happened.

  7. What an incredibly stupid thing to say.

    Please don’t hold back. Tell me how you really feel.

    The assumption was that the record would already be out of the way by the time it happened.

    Right because Maddux has been such a model of consistency this season, that it’s perfectly natural to assume he would have strung together a bunch of wins to set the record. Please let me borrow your rose-colored glasses later. As a Russ Ortiz fan, I’m going to need them to feel good about Russ going into October.

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