This was not a game you’ll ever see on ESPN Classic, but the result was fine, as the Braves held on to first place. Hampton was his usual frustrating self but managed to hold them to three runs, and the Braves got just enough offense to make them pay.
The game story is blaming “Mets errors” for the loss, but both of the errors were well hit and could easily have been called hits, while the Braves made two really bad errors, like losing a pop fly in the sun and having a ball fall out of your glove. It’s just that Hampton and Smoltz pitched around those.
It’s my theory that Steve Trachsel, the losing pitcher, is a deep-cover agent for the NBA on assignment to destroy Major League Baseball. Baseball is not boring, unless Trachsel is involved, but he sucks all the joy out of the game by seemingly taking 20 minutes between pitches. (I exaggerate. It can’t be more than ten.) I call him Steve Paxil because he makes me want to take antidepressants. Between his usual time dilation routine and Hampton’s usual high-pitch outing, the first five innings of the game took about two hours, two hours that seemed to stretch into infinity. Once the bullpens got involved it wasn’t so bad.
Chipper had two hits and reached on one of those “errors”. Andruw had a hit and an RBI and walked twice. Drew extended his hitting streak with a seventh-inning solo homer, insurance at the time which the Braves turned out to need. Smoltz got his 20th save, the 130th of his career. He needs 12 to pass Gene Garber now.
The Phillies won after losing a no-hitter and a shutout in the ninth, staying a half game back. The Marlins lost again and are 4 1/2 out, the Mets 5 out. A four-game series is scheduled at Pittsburgh coming up. The Phillies face the Marlins for four, while the Mets play the Expos. I would say that the Marlins and Mets are on the verge of falling out of the race, but I never count out the Marlins after last year.