Counterpunch. That’s how you do it. Arizona scores a run, you come back with three. They cut a four-run lead to two, you push it back up to four. Worked today, at any rate. In a newly Radar Gunless world (Resop designated for assignment! Bells ring! Dancing in the streets! Colors are brighter, food tastes better, and batteries on radar guns last longer!) the Braves salvaged a split with the ‘Backs before heading out on a road trip.
The Braves took the lead in the first. Escobar reached on an infield single. KJ (hitting second with Kotsay not playing due to the mysterious communicable back spasms) bunted him to second. Why you bunt with a guy who’s hitting almost .300 and slugging almost .500 and who is also lefthanded and one of your faster runners is beyond me, but hey, I’m not the manager. Chipper hit a single to left that apparently held up so long that Escobar couldn’t even make it to third, but Teixeira followed with a two-run double. Arizona cut it to 2-1 with a two-out RBI in the second.
As so often happens, the key play in the game was someone doing something dumb. Luckily, it was the other guys this time. Norton (playing left field, which should say something about how little faith the Braves have left in Diaz, since Norton’s defense in the outfield has reached sub-Kleskovian levels) walked, and Blanco followed with a single. Jurrjens came up in an obvious bunt situation and laid down a good one. The Arizona third baseman fielded it and decided to throw to the shortstop covering third instead of taking the out. Norton looked to be safe anyway, but the throw was terrible and got away. Norton scored and Blanco and Jurrjens advanced. Webb almost got out of it with strikeouts of Escobar and KJ, but he walked Chipper and Teixeira hit a two-run single to make it 5-1. All runs were initially scored unearned, but eventually they decided two of them were earned, unless they change their minds again. I’ll admit I don’t understand the unearned run rule, and frankly I don’t think there should be such a thing, but in my opinion all the runs should have been scored earned. See comments 71-74. The mistake wasn’t the error; the mistake was throwing to third in the first place; all the runners would have been safe even with a good throw.
Jurrjens was doing okay, but wasn’t working efficiently. He threw his eightieth pitch leading off the fifth. A double and a homer later it was 5-3. He got the next two, but after a single Bobby did what he should have done yesterday and called for Bennett, who got a flyout to end it. The Braves got the runs back in the bottom of the inning. McCann led off with a homer. Francoeur singled and after a strikeout Blanco walked. Gotay chased Webb with a pinch-hit single. That was it for the scoring.
I make fun of the official scorer, but he got one right today. Bennett faced only one batter, but nine times out of ten the pitcher who finishes the fifth will get the win in that situation. Instead, he gave it to Manny Acosta, who was great, pitching the sixth and seventh, retiring every man he faced, and striking out two. Boyer got a double play to erase a runner in the eighth, and stranded a runner in the ninth; I was surprised that Ohman wasn’t brought in to face JD Drew’s little brother with a runner on and two out, but Bobby let Boyer finish it, as he probably should have.
Chipper was 1-3 with a walk and saw his average plunge to .416. Blanco had three hits and a walk, and if Kotsay can’t pass on the transferable spasms to someone else will be playing center a lot, I’d guess.