How does something like this happen? How does the game go to the sixth inning with Pedro Astacio pitching a shutout? How does Andruw Jones not start against Astacio, whom he has a .290 .313 .839 career line against? How does Bobby leave in Joey Devine, in his first major league appearance, to pitch with the bases loaded in his second inning of work when the temperature and humidity are both in the nineties?
Horacio Ramirez did give the Braves the good start they needed, eight innings of two-run baseball. But through five innings that wasn’t good enough, because the Braves couldn’t score. Finally they broke through with Furcal’s solo homer leading off the sixth. Marcus scored on Francouer’s two-out single to give the Braves a 2-1 lead. But Horacio gave it back with a homer to the legendary Miguel Olivo in the seventh.
The game just went on from there. Farnsworth, Reitsma, and Boyer each pitched a perfect inning. They brought in Devine to start the 12th, and he gave up a hit but looked good, throwing strikes.
But he gave up a hit in the thirteenth, and with Brayan Pena now catching the steal of second was inevitable. Bobby had Devine walk Brian Giles, which then led to a walk to Joe Randa when the strike zone suddenly shrunk to the width of one electron. Leo came out to talk to Devine (“Hi, I’m Leo, I’m your pitching coach”) but he stayed in the game. Xavier Nady, who had already seen Devine in the game, hit a grand slam. Foster came in to give up another run. Rudy Seanez, of all people, got the win.
With Andruw’s mysterious day off, the 3-4 hitters were Chipper and LaRoche, and they were a combined 0-11 with a walk by Chipper. Andruw hit a long fly out as a pinch-hitter. Furcal had two hits, as did Marcus. Francoeur had three, and Johnson, hitting next, had two. So having two outs between those groups hurt a lot.
The Braves now go to under .500 for the home stand and 0-5 against the Padres for the season. I would say that there’s a good chance that the Braves will face the Padres in postseason except that I’m not at all confident in the Braves’ chances of getting to postseason right now. Tomorrow is a night game, and thankfully Smoltz is pitching against Brian Lawrence.