Those two extra innings almost felt like their own game.
By my unofficial count, it was 56 minutes from the final out of the ninth to Scott Kingery’s walk-off home run. By comparison, the Braves and Yankees got through an entire seven-inning game in an hour and 58 minutes.
On a night where Ender Inciarte homered off a left-handed pitcher and the worst bullpen in baseball didn’t allow a run in its final five innings of work, it was only fitting the walk-off home run was hit by a man with a .319 OPS and a wRC+ of -11 entering play tonight.
It doesn’t make it any more enjoyable to talk about, though.
- Disastrous 0-2 meatball to Kingery side (we’ll get there), that was a herculean effort from Atlanta’s bullpen. Seven relievers combined to fire 6 ⅔ innings shutout innings with eight strikeouts and two (intentional) walks before the three-run home run by Kingery. They pretty much carried this game on their backs without a lot of support, only for the weight to eventually become too much in the 11th.
- A special shoutout should go to Shane Grene here. His ERA for the season is down to 0.59, and his 10th inning was an incredible feat of pitching.
You have to seriously trust your breaking stuff to throw anything down in the dirt with Roman Quinn—the league leader in sprint speed—standing on third base as the winning run. Greene threw three sliders and three sinkers to JT Realmuto with the game on the line in that scenario. He only threw one fastball throughout his 22-pitch 10th inning, and it was the 1-2 one that Andrew McCutchen got under and skied into left field for a flyout. That was a masterclass in how to calmly trust and execute your pitches with the game on the line.
- Austin Riley caught a heat seeking missile in the tenth inning and hit one into the left field seats in the seventh. Riley is 10-for-28 (.357) with two home runs in his last eight games and struck out just six (!) times in that span. After 22 strikeouts in 65 plate appearances to start the season, that’s a huge improvement. Stay hot, Austin.
- Ender Inciarte homered off a left-handed pitcher for the first time since August 23rd, 2018 and just the fourth time in his career. Alexa, play “A Whole New World” from Aladdin.
- Marcell Ozuna hit a baseball 115.6 MPH off the bat for an RBI double. It’s hard to even comprehend how fast that is. You could fit two Zack Greinke eephus pitches in there and still have speed to spare. A cardboard cutout might have been uprooted from its seat if that ball had landed over the wall.
- Alright, about that last pitch. Scott Kingery has been awful his season. It’s impossible to say otherwise. I’m pretty sure you could send the Phillie Phanatic up to the plate with a blindfold and no bat and the numbers would rival Kingery’s. A .319 OPS is ghastly when you consider Inciarte entered tonight at the dizzying heights of .516.
But here’s the thing. He’s still a big league hitter who hit 19 home runs last season. No matter how much he has struggled, you still can’t leave a cutter that far over the plate; even more so when the count is 0-2. Melancon threw a professional hitter a high school pitch, and it was deposited into the seats.
- What do the Braves have to do to get a big hit with runners in scoring position? Get Ozzie Albies off the IL? Say some prayers? Sacrifice one of Blooper’s costumes to the RISP gods? Tonight was another brutal tonight; 1-for-14 with RISP and 0-for-5 in extra innings to be exact. In both the 10th and 11th the Braves had a runner on third with less than two outs and couldn’t cash in. Of course when you get a lot of chances to score you’re going to leave a lot of men on base, so in some ways it’s good to see that they’re at least knocking on the door with regularity.
But until they start kicking it down a little more frequently? Still really frustrating to watch.
- I have a few theories as to how Inciarte was called out on his stolen base attempt despite clearly getting his foot in before the tag.
- When instant replay is called, it’s actually just the umpires listening to a podcast through the headphones for two minutes and there is no review room in New York.
- The umpires in New York were in the break room making food when the review came in.
- The Phanatic cut the phone line and the review request never reached New York at all.
But ignoring the obvious nature of the missed call, what was the idea there? With Ronald Acuña Jr. standing in the on deck circle and the go-ahead run on third, the only thing that matters is giving your superstar a chance to decide the game. Whether Inciarte was called out or safe there, the run that had to score was still on third. At best, you’re staying out of a hypothetical chance to give the Phillies two outs. At worst, you’re giving them one for free and a chance at the other without Acuña ever reaching the plate.
- Nobody is expecting Robbie Erlin to be Greg Maddux, but he shot himself in the foot a couple of times. Walking the No. 9 hitter Roman Quinn meant Andrew McCutchen’s blast drove in two runs instead of one, and of course that extra run came home to roost. And despite his curveball being by far his best pitch—he threw 16 strikes with it on 25 attempts and recorded six outs on curveballs he abandoned that in a possible strikeout spot by throwing Jean Segura a 2-2 fastball at 89 MPH in the fourth. The second two-run home run in as many innings was the result.
- It’s safe to laugh about it because the runner was stranded, but Darren O’Day joined Matt Garza in the “Worst throws to first base ever” Hall of Fame tonight. It’s a good thing he remembered how to accurately throw the ball to home plate in the aftermath.
- Chip Caray got Chip Caray’d away again several times tonight. He used his patented “HIGH FLY BALL!” home run call on a Matt Adams swing in the ninth…that traveled 321 feet and lands for a hit 2 percent of the time according to statcast. And again on an Austin Riley flyball that went 358 feet and had a 9 percent chance of being a hit in the 10th. He does deserve a little slack because he’s not actually at the ballpark, but he judges fly balls about as well as a bird judges clear windows.
Former Brave Of The Day:
Mike Minor turned the clock back tonight. Way, way, back. October 4th, 2013 to be exact. That was the day he made his only career postseason start, allowing one run in 6 ⅓ innings against the Dodgers at Turner Field. Tonight for the Rangers he threw six shutout innings against the scorching hot Dodgers to help Texas pick up a 6-2 win.
Quote Of The Day:
“Baseball is like a poker game. Nobody wants to quit when he’s losing; nobody wants you to quit when you’re ahead.”
– Jackie Robinson
Josh Tomlin has to find a way to eat some innings. The bullpen is drained and they won’t have the benefit of an off day until Thursday. Tomlin needs to at least get through four or five frames to give the Braves a chance in the middle game of the series.