Great game and a big win for the Braves. The offense was much better than it had been in the last six games; 13 hits overall, every starter had at least one hit, and the six runs were driven in by six different Braves.
Gausman had an excellent start. To my eye at least, Gausman was very sharp. His splitter was diving, and he struck out several D-backs with high heat at 96 or 97 mph. He went six, giving up just five hits and one run.
Although the Braves’ offense had been in slump, I think for most of them it’s been more bad luck than poor approach or bad mechanics. A lot of the guys have been making good contact but without the balls falling in. That happens over the course of the season. The good news is, you keep hitting the ball hard, you’re going to score runs.
The Braves scored two runs through six, and it seemed like more of the same bad luck. They could have and should have scored more. In the bottom of the sixth, the Snakes finally broke through against Gausman, with a double by Peralta, a single by Flores, and a sac fly by Ahmed. Gausman showed he wasn’t completely out of gas when he ended the inning by striking out Avila swinging on a 97 mph heater with the go ahead runs on base.
At 2-1 after six, and knowing the pen would have to go three innings, I didn’t feel good. The most effective relievers lately have been Winkler and Jackson, and neither were available, both having pitched in the first two games of the series.
Fortunately, BMac led off the seventh with a long homer, restoring the two run lead. With our bullpen, you knew we’d need all the cushion we could get.
Sure enough, Adam Jones, pinch hitting, leads off the bottom of seventh with a line drive homer to left off Tomlin. Tomlin had fallen behind 3-0; at least he didn’t walk him. I couldn’t have taken another lead off walk given up by a Braves reliever. Tomlin was able to finish the seventh without further damage.
The Braves hitters never went into hibernation. In the top of the 8th, FF tripled off the center field wall. Markakis, with a professional at bat (I’m not sure whether Chip and Joe said that this time, but it is a rare AB by Nick that they don’t call a professional at bat), had a hit to the opposite field to drive in Freeman. Ozzie drove in another run with a hit to right. So the lead is up to three.
Did we ever come up with the Tomlin counterpart to Reitsma Room? In the 8th Tomlin in for another inning. Swanson made a phenomenal play very deep in the hole to get Walker. That was even more important when Tomlin gave up a single and a homer to make it a one run game again.
In the top of the ninth, Camargo pinch hitting in the 9 spot, jumped on the first pitch he saw and hit a no doubter home run to right. His first at bat of the series, and on the first pitch he crushed it. I know Camargo hasn’t been hitting well, but they need to get him more AB’s for many different reasons.
So as they head to the bottom of the ninth, I’m wondering who will attempt to close it out. Johan’s shot provided a little more breathing room. But was it Webb Woom (as Elmer Fudd might say)? Yep, Jacob Webb came on to try for his second career save. He got a huge strikeout of Dyson to open the bottom of the ninth. Then he got Marte on a routine fly ball to center. But of course he walked Escobar, bring David Peralta to the plate as the tying run. Exactly the situation on Thursday, when Peralta crushed our hopes with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. So Snit, to his credit, brings in a lefty to face Peralta. Problem is, the only lefty he had available was Venters, who had not pitched in a big league game in a month. And you may recall Jonny was none too effective the last time he appeared in an Atlanta uniform. But on a 3-1 count (and that strike was a long foul that just missed tying the game), Jonny V induced a weak grounder to FF that ended the game.
It was nerve wracking, but a great game to watch. And as Chip kept reminding us, the Braves have now guaranteed at least a .500 road trip. Having watched the games earlier this week in Chavez Ravine, that is hard to believe.
Speaking of Chip:
I said a week or two ago that I have not been bothered by Chip as much this year. Now I remember why. Joe “Get off my lawn!” Simpson made the trip and has been in the booth with Chip. With Frenchy, Chip plays off the goofiness pretty well. With Joe, Chip just reinforces Joe’s know-nothingism. Early on, Joe went on a rant about how Wins are still the most important thing for a pitcher. Chip also seems obsessed with the Win stat for starting pitchers. Joe really doesn’t like starting pitchers going only 5 or 6. That’s fine, and a legitimate opinion. But that led to an odd discussion of CC Sabathia. Joe says he belongs in HOF. But Chip points out that CC is far below Johnson, Glavine, and Carlton in WAR. And Chip even suggested that WAR is supposed to allow comparisons from era to era (good for you, Chip!).
I think Joe was suggesting that CC doesn’t get the same chance to accumulate the important stats that pitchers in earlier eras did. At the same time, Joe insisted that the traditional standards—counting stats–ought to be what gets someone into the hall. I’m still not sure what the point of all that was. But the clear impression you get from the discussion was that they neither understand nor appreciate WAR or any other 21st Century stat. I know Joe is pretty old, but he’s not much older than I am. I read the Bill James Abstracts in the 1980’s, and it forever changed the way I look at baseball. I know many of y’all did too. Is it too much to ask that someone who makes his living talking about baseball make some effort to understand the game?
But now I’m sounding like a grumpy old man, and I don’t mean to. It was a great win, and the Braves, improbably enough, can come home with a winning road trip. Max Fried goes for the Braves on Sunday afternoon. I like our chances.