Saturday, October 9, 2010

Braves Magic

The Phillies are clearly the class of MLB again this year, and it would appear they are on a course to meet the Yankees again in the World Series.

However, if you did not stay up for last night's 5-4 Braves victory over San Francisco, you missed one for the ages and a game that sort of sums up the Braves' season.

Down early 4-0 with one of SF's aces, Matt Cain delivering shut-out pitching against the Braves anemic batting order and with Bobby Cox ejected after the same umpire who blew last night's call on Buster Posey blew another one, the Braves battled out a run in the 6th to make it 4-1, then took advantage of some shoddy SF fielding and timely hitting by Alex Gonzales (who was 4 for 43 coming into the game) to tie the game against SF's closer (Brian Wilson, who had 48 saves) and force extra innings.

That would be drama enough, except, in the bottom of the 10th inning, the Braves were forced to play the gimpy Troy Glaus (who carried this team in May/June, but had been battling nagging injuries since, and compelled the Braves to trade for Derrek Lee at the deadline) at third base (for just the second time this season) as Billy Wagner was brought in, in all likelihood to pitch two innings (hopefully).

Former Brave Edgar Renteria led off, and knowing Glaus's health issues, bunted at him and reached first base.  On the play, Wagner likely hurt an oblique, and fortunately, the next batter sacrificed Renteria to second, with Wagner getting the out, visibly in pain.

If you were, like me, going UGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH at the site of Wagner flinching in pain, you thought, ":This is it.  Season's over."

Kyle Farnsworth, who did not distinguish himself in his last time through Atlanta, was brought in to replace Wagner, and promptly hit a batter and then walked a batter to load the bases with 1 out.

If you watched the game, you know what happened next.  If not, a ground ball was hit to Glaus (again), who, instead of going home to get the out there, started a double play, and the Braves were out of the inning!  At that point, you had some inkling that something special was going on here.

In the top of the 11th, Rick Ankiel, the former Cardinal's pitcher, and reconstituted center fielder, hitting just .220 for Atlanta since coming over from KC in July, hit a monster homer into McCovey Cove to make it 5-4 in the 11th.

Farnsworth worked an uneventful bottom of the 11th, and the Braves return to Atlanta having split the first 2 in SF 1-1.  In 5 game series since the format began, teams that split 1-1 are 25-10.  So, the odds favor the Braves, but, Wagner is out for the series and the season, and we may seen him throw his last pitch.

It's too bad he's not planning on coming back next season, but Craig Kimbrel and Johnny Venters have been awesome.For now, Wagner is out this series and the next (if the Braves make it).  The guess is Takashi Saito will take his place.

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