The excitement leading up to this game was so palpable and so intense that words cannot describe it. As Dusty put it in the last game thread, “tonight is Game 7 of our NLCS with the Dodgers. We shocked the world by taking the first two, only to see LA reel off three straight. Flowers had the dramatic decisive blow to send us to a game 7 tonight where it’s former Brave Alex Wood against newcomer Newcomb.”
Indeed, how many crucial game sevens had Atlanta fans witnessed in their home park in the fifty year history of the Atlanta Braves? Given the remarkable run of October baseball from 1991-2005, it’s not as many as you might think. The most famous of course is the 1992 NLCS against the Pirates—Francisco Cabrera, Sid slid, Braves Win! Braves Win! Braves Win! Braves Win! I never tire of hearing Skip on the call: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kYIPtLDWx-s. (BTW, tonight was the ninth anniversary of the death of Skip Caray; he was a gem.)
There was the 1996 NLCS against the Cardinals in which the Braves overcame a three games to one deficit and won three straight to win the pennant and advance to the World Series. That game seven in Atlanta, though, was anti-climactic as the Braves won 15-0.
And that’s it.* So no wonder everyone was so eagerly anticipating this game seven.
Well, maybe not so much. Man, I miss October baseball. I yearn for real game sevens instead of fake ones. But the cold hard truth is that this Braves team is a long way from competing in October. The Phillies are a very bad team, and the Braves have lost 9 of 11 to them. Yet against the Dodgers, who are having a phenomenal season, our Braves somehow managed to split the first six games of the season series (in fact, no one else has beaten the Dodgers in the last month). So, if the Braves could win this last game against the Dodgers and win the season series, that would be something.
But alas, even that minor consolation was not to be. Sean Newcomb again showed flashes of what he could be, but he also showed what he currently is, which is someone who walks way too many batters to be a successful starting pitcher in the big leagues. His line in 4 2/3 innings: 7 K’s, 7 walks, 4 hits and 3 runs. And 110 pitches! Jason Hursh gave up three more runs, and Ian Krol one more—because Ian Krol.
Offensively, the Braves didn’t have much going through the first 8 innings. They did have two memorable hits in the game. Early in the game Markakis got his 2000th career hit. In the 9th, Ozzie Albies, whose streak of reaching base in every game was already intact thanks to a walk, got his first big league hit—a three run homer to left. Too little too late to affect the outcome, but it’s exciting to see the kid up and playing. Even with just the one hit, his OPS is now .864.
Our old friend Alex Wood pitched six strong innings. In the 5th, when the outcome was still in doubt, the Braves loaded the bases with no outs. Thanks to a pickoff at second base and a double play, the Braves got nothing. That sequence was the most important in the game.
You know, every time I start to feel good about the trades and picks Coppy has made, I see Alex Wood and I’m reminded of the trade that should not be mentioned. That deal is still absolutely inexplicable.
Unlike a loss in an October game seven, the Braves live to play another day. Marlins in for three for the weekend.
*You recall that the clinching game in the 1995 World Series in Atlanta Fulton County Stadium was Game 6 of the series, and the greatest game seven in World Series history, in 1991, was played in Minnesota.