A Glorious Day Turns into a Glorious Win

A graphic featuring pictures of A.J. Minter, Luke Jackson, Tyler Matzek and Will Smith with the words "THE GAS STATION."

Quarantining sucks. I’m a social butterfly. I want ALL the people, and when my youngest daughter Finn went down with COVID, I knew our school’s protocol: 10-day quarantine. But today’s piece is a tail of triumph, pure joy, and a beautiful ending.

It was the end of last week when we got the news. The whole fam had to stay home. My daughters both attend the school where I teach, so protocol had to be followed. My oldest, like her father, wants all the people so she was devastated to be away from her classmates, but the biggest issue was Halloween. If anyone else in our family came down with COVID, no Ohanaween (our school’s Halloween celebration) and no Trick or Treating or neighborhood Halloween Dance party.

But this isn’t a sad story. On Wednesday morning of this week, my youngest tested negative with an at-home rapid test but my wife starting experiencing symptoms. Wednesday afternoon, all 4 of us had PCRs scheduled at CVS. Amidst screams and tears, we pinned our daughters down and shoved that damn Q-tip up their noses. Then came the waiting.

2 hours into Friday, at 2 AM, 3 tests came in via text: negative. I was happy, but also concerned. Why only 3? When morning rolled around, I waited until CVS’s customer service lines opened to find out why the Murphy’s test wasn’t sent over. They found the test, sent it via email and…NEGATIVE. There were tears of joy. I was going back to work. The kids were going back to school. And more importantly, Halloween was NOT cancelled.

When the Braves kicked off yesterday, I watched on the phone at Ohanaween. They scored their first run while I was in transit home and Ben Ingram’s beautiful voice was my source of happiness.

When we got home, my kids were in candy comas, tired out, and nearly asleep on the couch when my wife said she’d put them to bed while I finished watching the game. After kids got to sleep, my wife joined (which happens rarely), watched the game with me, and was cheering. Actually cheering.

It was a glorious, glorious day for the Cothran house. Tonight, as a consolation prize for not being able to attend in person, my best friend opened a new brewery down here and is throwing a World Series watch party that I get to host. Life is good, y’all. Wish you all could be there.

Top Performers of the Game

  • The Pitching Staff: Eddie Rosario should’ve made the catch to keep the no-hitter alive. Dansby Swanson should’ve gotten out of his way. These 2 things do not subtract from the remarkable jobs in terrible conditions from Ian Anderson, A.J. Minter, Luke Jackson, Tyler Matzek, and Will Smith. I’m fully convinced that A.J. stands for Adrenaline Junky because he’s been brilliant when the stakes are the highest. Collectively, the pitchers carried a 0.56 WHIP on the night.
  • Travis d’Arnaud: Sure, he was charged with an error that almost gave the Astros a run, but that’s a catchable ball for Dansby Swanson. d’Arnaud caught a really good game in harsh conditions and supplied the Braves with a much needed insurance run. Anderson’s the MVP of the night, but d’Arnaud deserves runner-up.

At game time tonight, it will be in the low-50s but rain chances are minimal. The Braves will be facing Zack Greinke in a bullpen game, but we are at home and it sure does feel like there’s a big home field advantage right now. Take tonight and let’s not let Houston get back to Houston.

Author: Ryan Cothran

Ryan is the site editor and manager of Braves Journal. Follow him on Twitter.

202 thoughts on “A Glorious Day Turns into a Glorious Win”

  1. I liked Covid. Certainly not the experience for the elderly and vulnerable, but it slowed me down for a few days, I got some good reading in and didn’t eat like crap because I lost my taste and smell. Sometimes it’s good when life slows you down. Like 99.9% of the young and healthy, glad the Cothran’s pulled through and didn’t trigger some mass quarantine.

    Go Braves.

  2. I think if the Braves had been up even 2 – 0 then Anderson might have stayed in another inning. But if there’s one common theme about these playoffs, it’s that Snitker does not fool around when he has a lead. Waiting until Anderson got into a bit of trouble wasn’t a luxury the Braves had with a one run lead.

    Snit seems to have 5 guys in the bullpen he trusts, and those are the guys that are going to get the innings. It will be interesting to see how it goes in games 4 and 5 when he has to get 3 or 4 innings each from people he doesn’t trust.

    Has he named a starter? My money is on Chavez again.

  3. Great recap, great news.

    I think Travis and Ian are my co-MVPs. One doesn’t exist without the other.

    Yes, let’s destroy the Astros the Astros tonight.

  4. God bless, Ryan — thank you so much for the update, that’s wonderful to hear!

    To be perfectly honest, I thought the decision to yank Anderson was absolutely the right move and I’m impressed with Snitker’s fortitude. As he has all postseason, he didn’t hesitate and he didn’t leave his man in too long. Anderson was working behind in counts, and while they mostly weren’t squaring him up, he was not exactly on pace to throw a Maddux. In October especially, better to take a guy out an inning too early than an inning too late, especially in a one-run game. Snitker brought in his four best relievers, one after the other, played to win a one-run game, and won exactly according to plan. I thought it was a terrific call.

  5. Great game, wonderful recap and family news. Enjoy the brewery and party – you deserve it, Ryan.
    Go Braves!

  6. Good to hear, Ryan. Good health is desired by all.

    And yes, I’ll repeat – I’d have taken Ian out there too. Would really like to know who we are starting today, but I think we have plenty of a shot against Grienke.

    Definitely echo ububba from the last thread – Go Dawgs! It’s gonna be a long one for mine.

  7. I’m going to the game tonight. I’m really pumped—I’ve been to hundreds of Braves games since 1966 but this will be my first World Series game.

  8. @4 I agree but a little less strenuously. As I said last night, I had hoped Ian could go 7 or 8 but after pitching a tough 4th, I knew that wasn’t going to happen. I said I’d have been happy with 6 but I wasn’t surprised or alarmed after he was taken out after 5. I was just worried about the pen – especially Minter and Matzek – covering four innings. But the bullpen guys were extraordinary. they all showed a gear I didn’t know they had. Matzek kept showing 99 and both Minter and Matzek were better at home than at Minute Maid.

    I am hard over on wanting to see Wright today. It is absolutely the correct move for reasons mentioned above and the fact that the Astros have struggled against good righties. I think that Chavez will be a good choice for game 5 opener. Unless Fried changes his game plan along the lines mentioned by Smoltz, I don’t have any faith that he would succeed as either a starter or reliever. As long as we have Anderson for game 7, we should be able to win this series.

  9. Thanks, Ryan. So pleased for you and your family. And it sounds like you’ve got a delightful evening ahead of you.

  10. @14 What??? An inexperienced lefty against a team that mashes lefties. I don’t get this at all. I was hoping for Wright but assuming Chavez.

  11. This makes sense given the top of the Astros order — if somebody gets on Lee faces Alvarez with the platoon advantage. I imagine Lee gets 5 batters and then we see Wright with the braintrust hoping he can be effective for the next 13 batters. Then we play matchups. Chavez/Smiley tomorrow

  12. @16 I’m thinking or hoping the same thing. I’ll be happy if he makes it out of the first unscathed. I’ll be holding my breath when Altuve hits.

    At this point the key is hitting Greinke. The Braves have to gear up for nothing but junkballs. Slow, slower, and slowest (Greinke’s Eephus). This can sometimes not be so easy when you’re geared up for 95-99.

  13. @16 I do not want to see Drew Smyly ever pitch again. I’m assuming Tucker Davidson is now ahead of him on the depth chart.

  14. Lee is just misdirection to hopefully get an easy, cheap inning. I still think Wright is the pitcher they try to get the most innings out of.

    How great would it be to get a clean inning out of Lee, then Wright, and then use Davidson the 3rd time through the first half of the order?

  15. I imagine we’ve all seen the MLB tweet about Anderson having the 3rd best ERA of any pitcher in his first 8 postseason starts (since 1913, when ER became official). The other pitchers in the top 5 are Orlando Hernandez, Cliff Lee, Orel Hersheiser, and Stephen Strasburg. All big-game pitchers whose performance in their first 8 postseason starts suggested they were going to continue dominating, or at least pitching well, right? In their 9th starts, Hersheiser went 8 innings with 1 ER, but Hernandez gave up 6 ER in 7 IP and Lee gave up 6 ER in 4-2/3 IP. Strasburg hasn’t yet had a 9th postseason start. That’s a 5.95 ERA for the other three. I think we’re all hoping and expecting better from Anderson if there is a 7th game, but I’d rather avoid a game 7 and not tempt fate.

  16. Methinks they’re trying to get 5 out of Lee/Davidson/Sanchez and then start Wright tomorrow more traditionally. Then close it out with Fried and Anderson, if necessary.

  17. I think Lee is opening because he’s an opposite hand of Kyle Wright, who will likely be the bulk pitcher.

  18. @22 Better to take the big gamble after you have booked 3 wins. I’m thinking Lee/Wright as long as they can go and Chavez/Davidson tomorrow. One of those two games is likely to involve a large enough deficit to pitch Martin and Smyly.

  19. Dylan Lee has got to be the most inexperienced pitcher to ever start a World Series game, right? What, a grand total of 4 2/3 innings at the ML level including this postseason?

  20. Let’s see what Lee has tonight. Going up against a potential Hall of Famer in Greinke – that’s just cool as hell. I think the Game 5 strategy depends completely on what happens tonight.

  21. Haha, I am at peace, coop. If Georgia doesn’t win a national championship this year, then it’s never going to happen. The universe has handed the natty on a silver platter to Kirby.

    Florida, much to the chagrin of the fanbase, went really conservative with two minutes left in the first half against Kentucky with their fourth-year quarterback. But against Georgia, they were compelled to put the kid starting in his first game’s ass in the jackpot 3 drives in a row against the best defense of the decade. Completely unnecessary.

  22. No sarcasm, this day is for the state of Georgia. Dan Mullen helped. Now Astros need to help. I hope the Braves make this one of the best days ever for state of Georgia sports fans.

  23. @23 Apparently Joc owns Greinke. Really hate taking Soler’s bat out of the lineup though.

    Jason Castro is out of the series with Covid.

  24. I’m in the Battery (no ticket). It’s absolutely nuts. We got here at 4:00 and there wasn’t enough room to sit next to our friends that were already here. And it’s only gotten more jam packed since. Ready to take a 3-1 lead with several thousand of my closest friends!

  25. Ububba, you’re there too, aren’t you? Braves Journal is well represented. Pretty sure Mac’s there too.

  26. 43 — Yeah, if they had to do this over again I think they would have gone with Chavez.

    Now Kyle Wright inherits a mess.

  27. Looks like snowshine @16 was right on point. I think I would have let Lee stay in for another batter. Now Wright doesn’t even hardly get a chance to succeed. Things could blow up on one pitch even if Wright ends up pitching really well. To me, in this case, screwing around with an “opener” has set up everyone to fail.

  28. Yeah, that didn’t work out. Not a great move, Snit. And now you throw Wright into the fire when he could have started clean. I might have preferred Ryan’s choice of Strider but it’s too late now.

  29. Why in hell you start a guy never pitched in this kind of game. . Stupid .. why didnt they have Kyle muller on team .. we are screwed.. we have no starters .. touki would have been better choice ..

  30. Wright got out of that with very little damage. They should’ve just started Wright dangit. Now they need to stick with him like he’s a real starter.

    @53 doesn’t that just figure. Lee didn’t really look that bad but sure didn’t get any help.

    If we can get 5 or 6 off of Greinke then no one will care any more. It’s all about approach now.

  31. There haven’t been any lead changes in the first 3 games, and only one run scored to tie a game briefly (Braves early in game 2). Let’s change that.

    Maybe Wright not pitching to the first four batters means he can pitch to 14 batters and only go through the top of the order once.

  32. Is it the Houston catcher who’s yelling “swing” as each pitch arrives? Haven’t noticed that before.

    (I assume it’s not the umpire.)

  33. Wright’s not getting any help from the ump either.

    Great play by Riley.

    I am still on the Kyle Wright train. We get him some runs and he is going to come up huge tonight.

  34. The announcers have said a couple of times that Greinke was “on the list” as a pinch-hitter last night. What does that mean? Do teams have to declare possible PHs? Seems strange.

    Hmm…not looking good to give up hits to their 8 & 9 hitters.

  35. Unless we change our approach at the plate, I’m not sure about this game. We’re not getting calls and these are AAA/AAAA pitchers. They’re gonna get their hits (Grienke, for Christ’s sake!) Keep battling Wright. I’m rooting for you.

  36. @74 he was in the dugout instead of the bullpen and Dusty likely told everyone he might pinch hit.

  37. #38
    Was there last night & going tomorrow.

    Today was about chilling at a friend’s house & enjoying the afternoon carnage… then get nervous for Game 2.

    Go Braves

  38. Is D’Arnaud a bad framer or is there something to all the borderline calls going against us?

  39. If Bobby was manager he would have already been thrown out of multiple games this postseason.

  40. If there’s one thing I’ve learned watching playoff baseball, it’s that I need to take up a gambling habit to finance my cryptocurrency speculation while eating a lot of Taco Bell.

  41. Greinke is not even paying attention to the runner. Steal 2nd!

    Or not. Once again. How have we gone back to hibernation mode and against this guy??

    @91 and 93 – Yes it is. It looks so good before you eat it. And then…not so much.

  42. @97 – I doubt he’s thinking about a contract. I’m not sure what he or any of the others outside of Rosario and D’Arnaud are thinking. Just swing, swing, swing. Not gonna cut it against this Astro team in a long series. Wright (despite that HR) is doing his best. We need runs and they are not providing it against hitable pitchers.

  43. Only giving up 2 runs through the first 4 innings is all you can ask. The blame is on the bats right now.

  44. The umpire just called a strike for Greinke that was literally an inch and a half off the part of the plate that he was calling a ball for Wright and Lee.

  45. @106 Yep, they should get Soler’s bat back in the lineup.

    I hope Langeliers is ready next year. Geeesh.

  46. How in the hell is a pitcher supposed to find any success if the umpire is taking the outside of the plate away from him and calling clear strikes balls? This is like the exact opposite of Eric Gregg! Wright has done an amazing job working through that, but it may well be something that matters to our hitters thinking the same pitch will be called the same. It won’t apparently.

  47. OK, this is probably it for Wright. After 4-2/3, he can’t come back tomorrow or in a game 6 with two days rest, and I assume he’d be too low on the depth chart to come back in a game 7 unless it goes 16 innings. Very good Series – 5-2/3 IP, 1 ER, 1 Grybo, & 2 inherited runners stranded.

  48. With Wright out of options for next season, I think it’s time to put him in the rotation and just leave him there even if he struggles at first.

  49. @114, I’d still like to see some piggybacking, maybe with Muller or Davidson. With some combination of Morton, Fried, Anderson, Soroka, Ynoa, Wright, Muller, Davidson, and maybe Strider (& I’m probably forgetting someone), it seems like there’ll be lots of starting options even if/when some are injured or ineffective. Having two of them, preferably opposite-handed, partner up to each go 4 or 5 innings almost no matter what could give them regular work without overworking them and could help make sure the bullpen gets some rest.

  50. Has a Brave or an opponent been thrown out stealing in any Braves postseason game this year? I can’t remember one. Maybe teams aren’t attempting enough steals?

  51. I’m sort of over this stupid game (and it’s irritating that we’re still in it because it doesn’t feel like it thanks to the umps and our bats.) I do think that Wright deserves a chance next year. He wasn’t really given one this year (only 6.1 innings pitched in 2 games but…he gave up 7 runs in those games.)

  52. @134, it just seems that way. In the regular season, with the bases empty, Albies hit .220/.275/.382. With runners on, he hit .315/.360/.638. For his career the split is similar, if not quite as extreme.

  53. Matzek!

    Can we please get some f-ing runs?!

    EDIT – Let it be known that I’ve gone to the old school rally cap. I encourage all to do the same.

  54. The thing about Jorge Soler is he hits the ball just so damn hard. That is a good thing, I think.

  55. @148 I would like to see all four OFs come back. With the DH there will be plenty of playing time.

  56. I’m sure JonathanF will tell me there is no mathematical or scientific reason the rally cap worked (works) and he’d be right. But I put it on and then boom. Runs!

  57. It looked like he just waved his glove in the general direction of the ball and the ball went in. Unbelievable!!!

  58. I was sure that was past Rosario and off the wall and Altuve would get to third before anyone could track it down. Wonderful catch, but let’s move Duvall to left rather than right when Heredia comes in next inning.

    Luke looked a little shaky there. Hope he doesn’t have to pitch tomorrow (b/c we win a blowout, of course). I also didn’t get the organist playing the Imperial March from Star Wars as he was warming up – I thought Matzek was the Death Star.

  59. @157: Rally caps actually have 18% efficiency. Whistlepig shots, however, are currently running at 100%, albeit with a smaller sample size than rally caps.

  60. I’m currently having a 17-year old gorgeously sherried Highland Park released by Single Cask Nation in conjunction with the documentary called Water of Life. It is the single best bottle I currently have open.

  61. Travis looked great at the plate the first two games but not so much today. I believe you are making a common mistake of grouping all rally caps together. AL’s old school rally cap has at least 35% efficiency.

  62. HANCOCK! Smith does it again! Just win, baby.

    DESTINY

    Stick with the plan. Chavez/Davidson for tomorrow. Fried for game 6; Anderson for game 7. Hope we need neither.

  63. Will Smith has really been an unsung hero this postseason too. He has been money. Much better than the regular season.

  64. @176 – The hat goes back to the 90s so…I’ll let the smarter folks than I figure the efficiency. It does have some history.

    Huge win!!!

  65. That Dansby interview just now was incredible. I hope he gets to stick around a long time.

  66. I put on my Hammers shirt this morning. Had a feeling I’d want it on. Ryan, did you know it was a lucky shirt when you made ’em?

  67. @181 it’s tricky because when you’re the closer you’re expected to blow zero saves.

    He was good but not great during the season.

    During this playoff run he’s been what everyone wants him to be.

  68. The more I think about it the more I think there is no one MVP. The MVP has to be Matzek/Jackson/Smith. Or just the Braves’ bullpen. Supposed to be our weakness but has definitely been our strength.

  69. They literally won a World Series game with Dylan Lee and Kyle Wright pitching five innings.

    WOW. Snitker is the guy hitting on 19 and drawing a 2. Just need him to be lucky for one more game in the next three.

  70. Kyle Wright was awesome. I know people were critical of Snitker for starting Lee, but I think his plan was pretty solid. He wanted to take the pressure off Wright starting and keep Houston from preparing for Wright. One thing Lee was able to do all year in AAA was throw strikes. The adrenaline was too much for him tonight and his control was way off.

    Tomorrow’s version of a bullpen game will feature Chavez, Davidson and possibly Smyly. I think the strategy is a good one.

  71. @189, I assume Minter is part of the Night Shift too, so it should be a four-way award. For the postseason as a whole, Smith has thrown 10 innings and given up 4 hits and 3 walks with 8 Ks and no runs. Certainly better than I expected.

  72. I am still in disbelief of this situation we are in- unbelievable this team has come this far. Wow, still in awe of that catch by Eddie….. The clincher is the hardest one to win! Gotta come up big 1 more time.

  73. What an intense game. All kudos goes to Wright for keeping them in it. The Astros had so many baserunners, but Wright made the pitches when he needed to. Apart from Altuve’s home run, there really weren’t many hard hit balls. I hope he gets a good opportunity next year to start. He’s earned it.

    I’m still on a high after the game. What a jolt that was from Dansby and Soler. Let’s end this tomorrow boys.

  74. Astros are starting Framber tomorrow. I don’t care what he did against the Red Sox. The Braves have only smacked around one pitcher this series – Framber. And they’ll do it again. Dusty should know better than to start a lefty against this team. Worst case this is going be a 10-9 game; best case is the Braves blow them away and Davidson awes us with an unbelievable performance. We don’t really want to face Urquidy/Garcia again.

  75. @186 – very good

    All this talk of lucky shirts, single malts etc – all in vain

    The real reason the Braves won last night is that I went to bed at the end of the 5th (well, it was 3am). Whilst this means I shouldn’t watch any of Game 5, I’ll take that one for the team

    For all the frustration with the standard of umpiring in this (and, indeed, previous series) the Braves have come up with the goods in the big moments, and from a variety of sources who may all have been maligned at one point or another. We all know momentum is a flawed concept, but confidence? I dare suggest that is a different matter entirely

  76. What a glorious season!

    Thank you all so very much. It has been a blast.

    Win that last game, Braves. Hammer time.

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