Citizens Bank Park giveth and Citizens Bank Park taketh away.
Santana was, again, great. Six solid innings of work. 11 Ks with 2 walks. He made one bad pitch to Ryan Howard. These things happen. But he left after 6 innings with a one run lead, courtesy of an Evan Gattis CitiBank special… A 2 run homer to the first row in right field. (ESPN lists it at 362 feet… that’s an infield fly in the playoffs.) Before that, the Braves played as if they were trying to recapitulate my high school experience… they kept getting to third base where they were abruptly stopped. One of those excursions ended in a Nats-esque baserunning play which saw Heyward caught in a rundown between third and home followed by Freddy thrown out trying to get to second during the rundown. I blame Dascenzo even though he had nothing to do with it. He was in the neighborhood… good enough for me.
So it’s 2-1 in the seventh, time to settle down to see a bullpen battle, waiting for the inevitable pop fly home run that makes this park so irritating.
The Braves struck first in the eighth, courtesy of BJ Rosenberg, who skipped his Passover seder last night with disastrous consequences. Three batters faced… three dingers: Oso-Owlo-Gloveo (Gattis-Uggla-Simmons). All of them were homers in the Polo Grounds, so the stupid dimensions of the field were not implicated.
At this point, Rosenberg departed, unfortunately. One might think that a 5-1 lead would be good enough, but we got the bad Avilanche. A Gwynn-ette walk, a Rollins single, and a Dark Lord single loaded the bases with no one out for Howard. Briefly recovering his poise, Avilan strikes out Howard. Then came a killer blow:
Ruiz Byrd hit a ball six inches outside the strike zone to right for a two run single. This brought up Domonic Brown, who Avilan faced because, unbeknownst to anybody, Kimbrel was unavailable (shoulder trouble?!?) — it was pretty much down to Pickles and letting Avilan do to Brown what he did to Howard. Fredi went with Avilan, and the three-run homer gave the Phillies the lead.
But we still had the top of the ninth, and Pimplebon was unavailable, too. So we saw the first save attempt by one Jacob Diekman. Diekman should also have attended a seder. BJ walked and was safe at second on a poor choice by the Dark Lord on a weak grounder from Freddy. A Jupton walk loaded the bases with no outs. Gattis struck out, but Uggla, realizing that a second home run in this game would raise his OPS ahead of Heyward, made a 4 run deposit in the Citizens Bank.
Carpenter was good enough to finish off the ninth with his first Braves save. Avilan pitched one inning, gave up 5 runs, and got the win. Just another day at the Bank.