For those who desire a summary of the game before my idiosyncratic ramblings about matters related and unrelated:
Top first, Max Varsity Fried Pie (I prefer the peach, but my wife insists on the apple)—retires the Fish without any damage. First pitch bottom of first–RAJ bomb. Immediately thereafter, Ozzie triple (don’t pay attention to the official scorer on this one)—score on FF groundout. 2-0 Braves.
Top Second—Harold Ramirez solo homer; bottom second—Austin City Limits solo homer. 3-1 Braves. Looking good.
Top Third—Starling Castro solo shot; bottom third—Ozzie double, JD BB, Nick double, scoring Ozzie, JD out at plate. Despite the failure to plate the fifth run, things are looking even better. Marlins hurler Caleb Smith isn’t fooling anyone—this could be a rout.
Then—hibernation mode. Smith retires the next 9 Braves, and the Fish pen also shuts out our side.
Which wouldn’t be so bad, except that Max was very hittable today. In the fateful fifth, he gave up 3 runs on single, single, double, single. Fried hung a breaking ball to Alfaro to plate the third run. And then he allowed the go ahead runs on another breaking ball delivered to one Yadiel Rivera (who was hitting .150 on the season). Max’s fastball was in the mid to upper 90’s—maybe he should use it more.
After the fifth, the Braves relievers did their now typical stellar job: four scoreless innings, with two by Tomlin, and one each from Webb and Sobotka.
But as noted, the Braves impersonated bears in winter the rest of the way. Final score 5-4.
Even so, the Braves’ ability to score runs in the seventh or later has come to seem inevitable, so I (and you too, I bet) were convinced the Braves would score the go ahead runs late and claim victory. Just goes to show nothing is inevitable.
* * *
Well, some things are inevitable. In the bottom of the 8th, with the Braves trailing by one, and the top of the order up, there was zero chance that Chip would not say “The right guys are up at the right time!” And in the top of the 5th, with the Braves clinging to a one run lead, Fried struggling, and the tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position, there was never any doubt that Chip would remind us that a starting pitcher must go 5 to earn a win. It’s not so much that wins are an overrated stat. The problem is that Chip emphasizes this when the outcome of the game is very much in doubt with four innings left to play. And of course Fried promptly gave up the lead, making the whole subject moot. I don’t know why this bugs me so much. It’s not a big deal—it’s really more my problem than Chip’s.
(On the subject of announcers, I was in the car so I listened to the first three innings on the radio. I find Ben and Joe to be much less interesting than Jim and Don. I understand about Sutton’s health issues, but why is Powell not on the radio more?)
* * *
How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=snTaSJk0n_Y
Except that I haven’t, really. I’m with Seat Painter (see yesterday’s recap)—I’ve always preferred a good pitchers’ duel to a slugfest. All these homers and runs scored are a little unsettling to me. I came of age in the 1960’s when 1-0 and 2-1 games were the norm. As a Braves fan in the 1960’s, 70’s, and 80’s, I saw a lot of Braves teams that led the league in runs scored and still finished below .500. It was only after the Braves developed all the great starters of the 1990’s that they became consistent winners.
And yet, the power display by this year’s team is pretty thrilling. The two bombs today insured that this team set the Atlanta record for homers before the all star break. The fact that the two guys who did it today were born in 1997 makes it all the more exciting—and their 1997 comrade Ozzie ripped three doubles. This team is the most fun of any I remember—and the bombs are a big part of it.
* * *
In a pinch:
Fried pinch hit for himself in the bottom of the 5th. Really. He’d thrown right at 100 pitches and given up 11 hits and 5 runs through 5. There was no way he was going back out in the 6th. So, a pinch hitter was called for. Snit looked at his bench. With Dansby resting his sore quad, the only two noncatchers were Joyce and Charlie Clutch. It was an entirely reasonable decision to save them for higher leverage situations later. The hell of it was, Fried drove it to deep center and only an excellent catch kept it from being extra bases.
What I don’t understand is the failure to pinch hit BMac for Flowers with one on and two out in the ninth. McCann was on deck, but unless Tyler reached he could not hit. What were the odds that Flowers was going to hit a Romo slider in that situation? Nothing is inevitable, but his whiff on an outside slider was pretty close to it.
Tomorrow, last game before the break, Keuchel vs. Richards. If the Braves win, they will go 15-2-2 in series since the trip to LA in early May.