With Thursday’s forecast looking even more ominous than Wednesday’s, the Braves waited out a rain delay that was over two hours before, like lambs to the slaughter, they took the field.
In a shocking turn of events, playing baseball tonight was actually not an exercise of futility for the home nine. June—and the June swoon—is over!
Chipper’s favorite ump, CB Bucknor, was behind the plate tonight, so the strike zone moved from inning to inning, batter to batter, and often pitch to pitch. As a result, the game felt very uncertain until the last out was recorded, and even then the results may be negotiable. It’s Bucknor, you never know.
Doug Fister held the Braves hitless for the first three innings, and it looked like Matt Wisler might have to figure out a way to win without any offense. Then the 4th inning happened. Cameron Maybin singled to ensure Fister would not record a no-hitter tonight, and A.J. Pierzynski hit a two-run home run to get the team on the board. Not content with two runs, even though that is par for the Freddie-less course, Juan Uribe followed with a shot to center to make the game 3-0. Kelly Johnson singled and went to second on a groundball off Simmons’ bat on an attempted hit-and-run. An intentional walk to Eury Perez brought Wisler up with two-outs and two men on. Wisler made contact and guided a hanger into right field to pick up his first major league hit and first RBI. Suddenly it was 4-0, and Braves fans started thinking that maybe, just maybe, the Braves might be able to snap Washington’s 9-game winning streak against them.
Wisler, on the other hand, looked really sharp. He went 5 1/3 innings of shutout, 1-hit baseball, struck out six but gave up five walks. Fredi was ready with his hook, and rather than letting a guy making his third big-league start begin to falter after a strong start, he pulled him after he allowed a walk followed by a deep fly ball off of Yunel Escobar’s bat that Maybin caught with his back to the center field wall. Luis Avilan relieved him and promptly gave up a single to Bryce Harper, but the double-play combo of Andrelton Simmons and Jace Peterson pulled off a beautiful play to end the Nationals threat and get the Braves out of the inning.
In the 7th inning, Dan Uggla came within a foot of hitting a 3-run home run on a hanging slider, but this time the ballpark held the ball and Dan Uggla, Braves killer and most expensive player this year, ended up with just a noisy out. Denard Span followed that with an RBI single to put the Nationals on the board, but David Aardsma came on in relief of Nick Masset and struck out Danny Espinosa to end the inning.
To remind you of how far this team has come, Andrelton Simmons was the only player in the starting lineup tonight who was even on the team a year ago. In fact, the Braves have now had 46 different players on the 25-man roster this year, which is pretty amazing considering the All-Star Break is still over a week away. For comparison’s sake, on July 1 last year, the starting lineup was:
Barring more rain, the series against the Nationals will wrap up Thursday when Manny Banuelos takes the hill for his major league debut against Max Scherzer at 7:10. With the win tonight the Braves have a chance to win the series against a team that has owned them this year. It’s baseball. Anything can happen.
Banuelos vs. Scherzer. The Braves could win. Ha. Ha, ha. Hahahahahahaha. I crack myself up. And I yield the floor.
Natspos delenda est.
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