Well, we’ve had a couple of eventful days. Let’s tick off a few of the news items first: Peter Moylan‘s back, the Braves acquired utilityman/pinch hitter Jeff Baker for a PTBNL or cash, and as September rosters expanded, the Braves called up Moylan, Lyle Overbay, J.C. Boscan, and Jose Constanza — so get ready for a tiny bit more pinch running and a few more pinch at bats from Ross or McCann. Exciting!
Last night, the game was over after the second inning. That’s when I turned the game off, and judging by the fact that there were exactly seven comments between 5:47 pm and 7:24 pm, it seems fairly likely that you did too. It’s easy to understand why. Paul Maholm came out of the gate unable to find the plate. Or, at least, he was unable to find Ed Hickox’s plate, and when you’re a finesse lefty and you’re not getting the corners, you’re going to struggle.
“Struggle” hardly begins to describe it. He faced fifteen batters; he gave up four doubles, two singles, and three walks, while recording exactly six outs. Then Cristhian Martinez came in. He shouldn’t pitch the 10th inning of a tie game, maybe, but games like this are EXACTLY what The Lisp is good for. He gave up a double to Cole Hamels and Grybo’ed a couple of runs, but he got out of that inning and then pitched two more scoreless innings after that. It was 7-1 when he got finished in the third, but it stayed 7-1 until the 6th, when he was relieved by the 41-year old Miguel Batista, who… pitched two more perfect innings. Go figure.
Of course, in the meantime, our offense was performing about as well as you’d think they’d perform against Cole Hamels. They put runners on first and third in the first inning, when Michael Bourn singled and stole second, and Chipper reached first on a throwing error by third baseman Kevin Frandsen, who was in for the gimpy Placido Polanco — remember that. But Freddie Freeman and David Ross struck out to end the threat. They got a run in the second when Jason Heyward and Reed Johnson led off the inning with back-to-back doubles — remember that. But Paul Janish grounded out, Maholm struck out, and Bourn grounded out.
The Braves finally got two runs in their half of the sixth, on another double by Heyward and a two-run single by Johnson. That made it 7-3, and that’s where it would stay until the 9th, thanks to Jonny Venters, Luis Avilan, and Moylan, who came in to get Bravekiller John Mayberry in the top of the 9th. For facing exactly one batter, Pete became the pitcher of record.
In the bottom of the 9th, the Braves loaded the bases on a Reed Johnson single — I told you to remember him — and walks by Janish and Bourn. Two outs, Jonathan Papelbon on the mound. Prado at the plate. Prado then hits an inning-ending grounder to third base. But Frandsen tried to backhand it — I told you to remember him — and it literally bounced over his glove, into left field, going for a two-run double. Now it’s 7-5, with men on second and third, and Chipper Jones at the plate. That’s when Mac took over.
It was the 9th walkoff home run of Chipper Jones’s career. Mac wrote up at least five of them, from 2002-2012. (He almost certainly wrote up the one that Chipper hit on September 17, 1999, but those 1999 posts appear to have been lost in the mists of time, except for the ones he excerpted in this Kindle Single, which I recommend as a way of reliving the Braves years of the past.
Considering where we are in the race, I proclaim this to be Chipper’s clutchest walkoff home run of all time. We’ve got a long way to go before anyone can start talking about the P-word. But last night sure helps.