The Cubs were in town for one game, a makeup of a May rainout. It turned out to be a tight, tense game, and a tough loss.
Folty had been dominant lately; tonight, not so much. He wasn’t dominant, but he wasn’t hit all that hard either. He gave up two in the second, aided in part by a throwing error by Ozzie and a questionable balk call.
But after Folty surrendered another run in the third, the Braves went to work. Freddie Freeman, who had not done much at all at the plate in the last week or so, drove in a run with a single. Then in the fifth he tripled in two runs, and when Zuk drove him in with a sac fly to left, the Braves took a 4-3 lead. He was able to drive in those runs because Acuña and Camargo are still hot. Ronald was 3-5 and Johan 2-3 on the night. Ronald is fabulous, of course, but I’m also liking Johan better and better. He is the real deal.
Folty had settled down, and Snit sent him out for the sixth. Did I say a moment ago that Folty wasn’t hit very hard? Well, I exaggerated. After a Schwarber hit, our old friend Tommy LaStella put the Cubbies back on top with a pinch hit two run homer. That ball was crushed. TLS has turned into a preeminent pinch hitter.
Still, it was just a one run lead with 4 innings to go. And Winkler and Jonny V would combine to pitch three perfect scoreless innings in relief. The problem was, the Cubs bullpen was also nearly perfect. Four Cubs relievers tossed four and two thirds scoreless innings, with only one hit and no walks. In the bottom of the sixth, newest Brave Lucas Duda was robbed on a deep drive to right center. Alberto Almora, who was only in the game because Heyward was injured on Freddie’s triple, made a terrific diving catch on the warning track. I think Duda could be an inspired pick up. Of course, I thought the same about Adam Duvall a month ago, so what do I know? Some have said that Adam’s problem is a lack of regular at bats since he came to Atlanta. He started tonight’s game against the lefty and went 0-4. I doubt he starts again any time soon.
In the bottom of the seventh, Camargo lined a rocket up the middle; Jesse Chavez was lucky his head didn’t go into center field with the ball. The Cubs turned to Justin Wilson, the Cookin Cajun, to face Freeman and Kakes. Joe kept saying this guy can’t throw strikes, but against Freddie and Nick he threw every pitch exactly where he wanted it. I gar-awn-tee.
In the ninth, Baez made a terrific catch on a bloop by Ender. Acuña came up in the ninth with two outs and nobody on. Still, with one swing he could have tied it up. I convinced myself that is exactly what he was going to do. He worked the count full, took a mighty swing, ……and popped to short to end the game.
Oh well, still a month to play and the Braves are in first by three games. I’m pretty pumped about being in a pennant race, and I’m pretty confident that we will still be watching the Braves in October. But it will help my spirits a lot if the Braves have a good series at home this weekend against the Bucs before the Bosox come to town on Labor Day.