Javy Lopez found his Cheerios somewhere and all of the sudden catcher may not be a source of concern. Javy hit a grand slam homer as a pinch-hitter today; he’s homered in every game of the series. This one turned the game around, as grand slams often do, turning a 2-2 tie into a 6-2 lead. The Braves held on from there to win 6-4. Maybe Javy isn’t all the way back, but it’s certainly a promising sign. He got hot late last year only to get hurt headed to postseason; if he can stay both hot and healthy it will be a big boost.
John Smoltz got his 52nd 51st save. The major league record still looks unlikely, since he needs six to tie Bobby Thigpen, but the NL record shared by Randy Myers and Trevor Hoffman is only one two away, and whoever wins the save race between him and Eric Gagne (who is now four three behind him) should wind up with the NL record. [Fixed because I’m a screwup — MT] Damian Moss had a good start, giving up only two runs and four hits but only going five innings. Atypically, he only walked one batter and threw 55 strikes in 86 pitches.
The latest Bobby lineup still had Mark Derosa at shortstop and Darren Bragg in center. But Matt Franco played right field for Gary Sheffield (who had a pinch-hit single later in the game) with Julio at first, and Marcus Giles actually got the start at third. Andruw and Furcal both have the flu. I suppose if they’re going to have the flu this is the time for it. Usually when someone has “flu-like symptoms” that means they’re hungover, but that shouldn’t last two days so I guess they’re actually sick.
Braves came back to win, 10-5. Tom Glavine won for the first time in six starts, but he really didn’t pitch any better than he had been. It’s just that the Braves scored five runs while he was out there and he only gave up four. His ERA went up a tenth of a run despite the win, though he certainly pitched better than Maddux the game before. The bullpen wasn’t brilliant, with Spooneybarger allowing a couple of inherited runs and Remlinger a solo shot, while Holmes and Ligtenberg each gave up two hits but pitched around them. All pitched a single inning. It was a typical September/playing out the string game, really; the Marlins used seven pitchers.
Gary Sheffield had a solo homer and three walks, Javy Lopez the biggest hit, a three-run homer that put the game out of reach in the eighth, plus another RBI hit. Mark DeRosa led off and played shortstop, and had three hits. Even Vinny was 2-5, and all eight starting position players had at least one hit. Andruw took the night off, with Bragg playing center, while Julio Franco played first against a righty as Bobby’s indecipherable usage pattern continued. It doesn’t really matter. Arizona also won, and the Braves are still three up for the best record in the NL. The D-Backs’ magic number is nine, so they should play hard for at least the next week and a half or so.
Day game tomorrow, night game Monday, then back to Atlanta. Is it me, or do we play a lot of wraparound series in Florida?