What a terrific, timely, exciting win for the Braves. For much of the game it was a real nail biter; mine were pretty ragged by the 7th inning. It was 3-3 after 3 innings, and stayed that way until the bottom of the 7th, when the Braves took a 4-3 lead. A 4 run 8th gave the Braves the final cushion in an exhilarating 8-3 victory. A truly well played game in one of the most crucial contests of the year.
As noted, the Braves took the lead for good in the 7th when Dans hustled a single into a double. Duda followed with double ripped into right field corner. Then in the 8th, Camargo and Suzuki lead off the inning with back to back singles. Ozzie was called upon to sac bunt. After two attempts that went foul, he managed to draw a walk (!). Dansby followed with a bases loaded walk. Three more then scored on sac flies by Culberson and RAJ and a hit by Ender.
Props to the pitchers. Gausman was shaky early, giving up 3 runs on 5 hits and a couple of walks in the first 3 innings. But then he turned a corner, retiring 11 straight to take it into the 7th of a 3-3 game. His strong 4th, 5th, and 6th innings were a key to the game. After Gaus retired the first batter of the 7th, Biddle got the final 2 outs. Snit turned to the recently activated Vizcaino in the 8th to preserve a narrow one run lead. Against the 2, 3, and 4 hitters, Viz got them on a groundout, a groundout, and pop up. I was a little surprised that Snit used him in such a high leverage situation; was this a show of confidence in Arodys, or a lack of confidence in the other options? If Viz can pitch like this, he could be a much needed asset in postseason. Then in the 9th, with a 5 run lead, Sobot-K came on looking like someone who ought to be on the playoff roster. He stuck out the side with an unhittable combination of 98 mph heaters and a wicked slider. So, they retired 18 of last 19 batters. (And the one who reached was erased on a caught stealing when he overslid the bag, and Ozzie wouldn’t let him back on.)
Did I say above that this was a well played game? I was referring only to the Braves. It ought to be pretty demoralizing for the Phillies; they played poorly. They matadored ground balls all night; the pitchers tossed three wild pitches in crucial situations; and their bullpen imploded while the Braves’ pen shut the door. And although it wasn’t the most significant play of the game, I got a lot of pleasure out of this one: A run scored in the first when Hoskins made a mental error. A sharp ground ball could have led to an inning ending 3-6-3 double play. But when he stepped on the bag first, a heads up Kakes stopped and got caught in a rundown long enough for Freddie to score from third.
For the past month or two, we’ve been anticipating these final 7 games with the Phillies, knowing that the pennant was likely to come down to these games. After last night, the lead is 6 1/2 with 9 games to play, and the magic number is down to 4. Win 2 of the next 3 this weekend, and it’s all over. It would be nice to use the last week to rest some guys and figure out the playoff roster. Let’s end this thing.