Wow. (This is going to be a long one.)
One heck of a game. Nick Green hit a three-run homer (needing only a long fly ball to score DeRosa from third with nobody out) to win a game that really did seem to have a playoff atmosphere. (Down to lots of the other team’s fans showing up and making noise. Really, guys, you’re welcome to pay a visit, but behave yourselves.)
Green had already tied the game in the tenth with a sac fly. Furcal had doubled leading off, then went to third on a wild pitch when Green was trying to bunt him over. (It appeared that it was actually a foul ball, but considering that the pitch might have hit Green if he hadn’t pulled back in time, I don’t think that the Red Sox have much of a case.) Green’s heroics were thrown into relief because during regulation play he’d looked like he had money on the Red Sox, striking out three times on pitches way outside and committing an error on a typical try-to-do-too-much play. (They charged the error to Furcal, but it was Green’s fault.)
Jaret Wright went six, striking out seven and walking one, and threw exactly 100 pitches. He gave up a moonshot in the first to David Ortiz, then in the second allowed a run when for some reason Bobby had him pitch to the #8 hitter Bill Mueller (who only won the batting title last year) with two out, a runner in scoring position, and first base open rather than face the pitcher. Now Bobby’s reluctant to issue an intentional walk? The Braves rallied back on solo homers by Chipper in the second and Drew in the third.
Wright basically shut the Red Sox down after that for four innings. Alfonseca gave up a hit in the seventh, then Reitsma got in all sorts of trouble in the eighth but got Ortiz and Ramirez (the latter on a strikeout looking) to get out of it. Smoltz allowed a hit and a walk, but kept them off the board in the ninth.
Then Bobby, mysteriously, went to Sam McConnell to pitch. Okay, Damon, a lefthanded batter, was going to lead off, but please. Damon singled, then bunted over. Ortiz was walked, and Gryboski, of course, gave up the go-ahead single to Ramirez, because that’s what he does, then got a double play so his ERA still looks pretty.
Green tied it up again. Finally Juan Cruz put in an appearance, and he had great stuff, striking out four, walking two, and really not allowing any sort of solid contact. So he gets the win and everything worked out. In all, the Braves struck out 15 Red Sox, setting a season high.
Furcal doubled DeRosa to third in the 12th, setting up Green. But he really shouldn’t have gotten the double. It was a gapper that the Red Sox played cleanly, and Furcal could have been thrown out with a perfect throw. It was stupid to risk it, but it worked out.
Curt Schilling tomorrow. Oh boy. I can guess one thing — he isn’t going to come out of the game early, not after the last two games the Sox have played… The Marlins lost, the Mets won, and the Phillies have gotten into the twelfth in their own game with the Orioles. The Braves are, right now, three behind the Phillies and only a game and a half behind the Marlins, and are back to one game below .500.