I’ve said it before, and the announcers said it again tonight — this team is so resilient. They had every reason to fold after the eighth inning tonight, in which Jair Jurrjens got about five outs but wound up getting credited with only one thanks to terrible defense, and was on the hook for the potential loss. Coming on the heels of last night’s seventh-inning fiasco, and Chipper Jones leaving the game in the sixth with a sprained knee, there was every reason to believe they’d go down meekly in the ninth. They didn’t.
The Braves were pretty much shut down by J.A. Happ, who is not Cliff Lee but looks like it whenever he faces the Braves; through six innings, they had one hit, a double in the fourth by Chipper, who, as I said, left the game in the sixth. In the seventh, his replacement, Brooks Conrad, folk hero, led off with a walk. Diaz struck out, but McCann followed with another walk. Then, in an unbelievably unlikely occurrence, Troy Glaus got a hit, driving in Conrad. The Astros brought in a reliever, who got Melky to ground into a double play, but one hitter too late.
Jurrjens was on cruise control, though he didn’t have the strikeout pitch he’d had working in recent starts; the Astros weren’t making solid contact, and he was throwing strikes. Leading off the eighth, however, Michael Bourn tripled over Melky’s head, and you had to wonder if Bobby should have brought in Venters or Saito to start the inning. JJ rallied and got the next man to strike out, then with the infield in got a perfect ground ball to short. Just like last night, when things went wrong. And Alex Gonzalez fielded this one, but threw badly to the plate; Brian maybe should have caught it, but AAG was charged with the error to tie the game, with the hitter winding up at second. Jurrjens intentionally walked the next man, and Bobby brought in… Moylan? The man who was in the middle of last night’s catastrophe? Who is clearly not himself right now? With Venters and Saito well-rested?
Moylan in fact did his job this time, getting a ground ball to short, which Gonzalez again threw away; Omar was charged with the error, which was ridiculous (he just barely got a glove on the throw, and AAG’s throw was much worse than on the throw to the plate). The go-ahead run scored, and the game looked over. McCann saved the day on the next play, throwing Hunter Pence out trying to steal, which saved a run when the batter later singled. Finally Venters came in and struck out a pinch-hitter, because he’s really really good. Unlike Moylan is right now.
Gonzalez redeemed himself a little by leading off the ninth with an infield single. And Brooks Conrad, folk hero, followed with an upper-deck shot to turn the game upside down, 3-2, just like that. Glaus followed with an extremely unlikely insurance home run to make it 4-2. Wagner nailed down the save, getting help from a great play by Infante to nail the leadoff man.