Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you Bartolo Colon, Master of the Unearned Run, and his troupe of Merry Defenders, starring in a Comedy of Errors that culminates in one delicious, suspenseful mystery: What, if any, role will Colon have on this team when his bobblehead night rolls around next week? Stay tuned to find out more!
This show is better than Ripley’s Believe It or Not, because with this cast, you can really never believe what you see. Truth is definitely stranger than fiction.
As evidence, I give you Exhibit A: the third frame of last night’s performance. To build up to a bigger twist in the plot line, Matt Kemp hit a two-run home run to start the scoring in the top of the frame, twisting the viewers’ fantasies toward something quite tantalizing—the possibility of the team finishing the game with the lead. Ah, yes, but at the exact moment the thought danced across the viewers’ minds, the ensemble played the biggest joke on them yet, pulling the rug out from under all that is good and true about baseball.
It started with our esteemed star, Mr. Colon, giving up a single to start the inning. It was a rather odd play on Dansby‘s part, as he slid and the ball kind of went under his glove, close enough that you get the feeling he probably should have made some sort of play, but far enough away that no official scoring can do anything about it. But, all in all, an innocent enough gesture, not really anything to attract attention, and definitely not anything that would allow you to guess what would happen in the very next stanza. Ah, yes, but that is the brilliance of the performance, you see. You simply can’t guess what comes next. Colon coaxed a double play ball to get out of the unthreatening situation. It’s true. He did. Quite a boring turn of events, actually. Of course, his defense up the middle only managed to get the lead runner for the first out, but, no mind, he simply did it again with the next guy, and this time two outs would end the inning. Only this time his defense on-upped themselves, with a full-fledged error by Jace Peterson, who just looks overwhelmed out there, no matter where he is standing on the field. He didn’t exactly dazzle defensively last year as the starting 2nd baseman, but this year he just looks totally lost. Makes me wonder if he’s got something going on behind the scenes.
In any event, after only getting one out on the first double play, the Braves managed to get no outs on the second one. It was at the point that your humble scribe commented she was going to watch Albert Pujols hit a home run to give the Angels the lead, and then she would go to bed. So she watched Albert Pujols hit a home run to give the Angels the lead, and then she went to bed. Upon awakening this morning, she found to her dismay that she missed all the fun that came after. Thankfully recordings exist that allowed her to relive the clown show in all of its glory.
Bases empty, one out. The perfect stage for a collapse. First came a single under a diving first baseman’s glove. Then a bouncer to short that should have at least been one out, but the current shortstop was intimidated by the former shortstop, who hit the ball, and he let it get by him. The runners ended up on second and third, and another run came in when the next batter hit a weak ball to the charging first baseman, who couldn’t get the ball out of his glove and spent the next moments charging toward the plate in a twisting and turning sort of way, watching while the opponents jogged contentedly between bases. Next came a ground ball back to the pitcher, the perfect double play chance to get out of the inning! But the pitcher threw home after a double clinch, an off-target deal that allowed everyone to be safe yet again. An actual, legitimate single followed that and chased home another run making it 6-2. Boring. Back to the good stuff.
Another ground ball to the pitcher, and the sixth chance in the inning for the Braves to turn a double play. Sixth time’s the charm! Except, not so fast, my friend, we are talking about the Braves here. The pitcher did attempt to go to second base this time, and threw the ball into centerfield. Now we know why he threw home the first time. So, now it’s 7-2 and still only one official out (about eight unofficial, though, so that makes up for it). Then a bunt up the first base line that didn’t appear to be all that great, but the Braves managed to turn it into a bunt hit and another Angel run. At some point this has to stop, right? Wrong. A grounder straight to shortstop would have, once again, ended the inning with a double play. Only the Braves had the shift on, so the shortstop was playing on the other side of second base, and the third baseman was playing normal since there was a runner on second. At this point the playwright was, admittedly, getting a little absurd, but the cast dutifully played out the script.
Colon was finally yanked, after having induced 27 outs that inning and given up nine runs on six hits, four that made it out of the infield (although two should have been knocked down and kept there). For his efforts he almost lowered his ERA. Had one or two of those outs actually been recorded, he would have. Unearned Run King, indeed.
That offense was all the Angels got, but, really, that was much more than they needed. In the 7th, Tyler Flowers added a solo home run for the Braves, which was cute but not really all that necessary.
For those brave at heart, this cast will perform an encore performance this evening. What tantalizing possibilities lie in store for the audience tonight? Well, as I said earlier, stay tuned to find out more!