That. Kicked. Ass.
In a game that promised from the get-go to be the kind of stomach-punch loss that we Braves fans know only too well – they get lucky; we do a handful of stupid things; they get lucky some more – somebody, at some point, rewrote the script.
First thing’s first: Mike Minor outpitched Chad Gaudin today, though you never would have known it from results alone. Both pitchers gave up 4 earned runs. Yet while the Braves’ ace struck out 7 in 6 innings, walking only 1 and avoiding the long ball, Gaudin struck out no Braves – seriously, how do you strike out no Braves? – while serving up 2 homers. For the afternoon, Minor posted a 1.23 FIP; Gaudin, an ugly 8.86 mark.
And yet Gaudin left the game with the lead. After looking absolutely wretched at the plate through two innings, the Giants plated three runs in the third on the back of some clutch (read: lucky) 2-out hitting and horrific Chris Johnson defense. They should have scored once at most in the inning. But that wasn’t all for the Giants. In the top half of the fifth, the Giants scored twice more after BJ Upton chased a Buster Posey fly ball up the center field wall, only to feel it hit him in the back as he looked for its path above his head. And that came after an Andrelton Simmons error, the first of 2 the suddenly shaky shortstop committed. After a Hunter Pence sac fly, the Giants found themselves with 5 runs through little agency of their own.
The Braves scored their runs with less… divine goodwill. BJ Upton hit a 450-foot monster in the first, and then helped manufacture a run in the fourth, as he stole second with two outs and scored on a Chris Johnson single. Not content, evidently, with those accomplishments – after all, he did arguably cost Minor a couple runs in the fifth – Upton then hit a 2- run homer in the sixth to chase Gaudin. I’d say he’s got the timing thing down again, and is primed for some second-half redemption.
Still, the Braves trailed to the very end. Both bullpens stabilized things a bit, even as luck began to favor the home team. The Giants managed to get at least one hit in each of the last four frames, but situational hitting is a fickle thing, and before you could explain the laws of probability to Joe Simpson, the Giants suddenly found themselves decidedly un-clutch: after stranding runners in each of the previous three innings, they managed not to score despite a single, double, and walk in the ninth. It was as if the teams switched jerseys.
They hadn’t, and the Braves won the game in the bottom of the ninth with a nice blend of patience, luck, and skill. After Sergio Romo struck out pinch hitter Ramiro Pena, better-pinch hitter Evan Gattis walked, Andrelton Simmons somehow coerced Joaquin Arias into committing an error, Jason Heyward singled, and Justin Upton watched ball four, only this time it was actually called a ball and the game was tied. And then Freddie Freeman hit a walk-off single.
I loathe the Giants. I dislike their fan base, their players, and their management. I hate that they have won 2 of the past 3 World Series; that their owner is preventing the A’s from building a stadium anywhere in the Bay Area; that Posey was, and remains forever, out. I particularly resent the fact that the Braves got their asses handed to them in San Francisco earlier in the year. Now, however, the Braves can win this series. All they have to do is have some patience, utilize their skill, and wait for the luck to turn towards them. It always evens out, or so they say.