never trailed against the Dodgers on Saturday, cruising to a 4-3 victory.
kidding. The Braves really did defeat
the Dodgers, and the Dodgers never led.
But those of you who watched the game, didn’t it feel like the Braves
were trailing throughout? Given the recent struggles of the Braves bullpen, one
could be forgiven for lacking faith.
Alex Anthopolous does know what he is doing.
With the Braves leading 4-3 going to the 8th, Shane Greene
struck out the side, and Melancon got the save by allowing only one baserunner
in the ninth, getting the Dodgers’ best hitters, including Bellinger on a weak
pop to third to end the game.
But back to
the beginning. The matchup of starting
pitchers certainly favored the Dodgers.
Ryu has been the best pitcher in the league this year, and Mike Foltynewicv
has not. An ERA of 1.4 vs. and ERA over
The Braves jumped
out to a 2 run lead in the third, on an Hecheverria double (delighted to have
him, but get well soon Dansby!!), a walk to Acuña, and an Albies double on an 0-2
pitch. RAJ had been running on the pitch
and scored easily.
was holding his own. He gave up a run in
the 4th on a laser shot homer to Matt Beaty (where do they find
these guys? They’ve got about 10 guys on the IL, and they keep running guys out
there who can crush it.) Then in the 5th
a walk, single, and a single by “Ned” Beaty (our organist played the theme to
Deliverance when Beaty came to the plate) tied the game at 2. At that point, Folty had given up 2 runs in 4
2/3 innings of work. The problem was, he
tossed 107 pitches and still couldn’t get though the 5th. He only walked two, but it seemed like every
hitter worked the count to 3-2.
have two starting pitchers named Mike. Other
than their given names, they don’t have much in common. I realized tonight that Folty is the Bizzaro
Soroka. Soroka is very efficient–at his
best he averages 10-12 pitches per inning.
Folty is incredibly
inefficient. Did you note what I just
said above? 107 pitches to go 4 2/3! Soroka
is is cool as a cucumber on the mound; Folty is as agitated as a cat on a hot
tin roof. Most importantly, Soroka is a
delight to watch. Watching Folty, even
when he is relatively effective as he was on Saturday, is almost excruciating.]
turned to Sean Newcomb to try to close out the fifth. What?! Wasn’t he watching the night before when Newk
single-handedly surrendered the lead Soroka had left him? Give Newk a tremendous amount of credit. He not only got Rios to end the 5th
with the game still tied, he then pitched a 1-2-3 6th. To be fair,
one of those was the pitcher and one was Joc Pederson who hits like a pitcher
against lefties. Still, Newk did his
job, and it’s got to be a big confidence booster for him.
Ryu had settled down and was looking like his usual efficient self. But in the bottom of the 6th,
Donaldson and Duvall went back to back off Ryu and the Braves led 4-2. Luke Jackson caught JD’s blast in the Braves bullpen,
so I guess that meant he had the right to pitch the seventh. Given the choices in this pen, that seems
like as good a reason as any to choose a reliever. Jackson gave up a solo shot to Max Munchkin
Muncey, but managed to escape with a 4-3 lead thanks in part to a vicious liner
that was speared by Donaldson.
That led to
the sterling efforts of Greene in the 8th and Melancon in the 9th. What a terrific but nerve wracking victory!
By the way, I
watch most of the games. Paul Nauert’s
pitch calling behind the plate was the worst I’ve seen all year. It wasn’t quite Eric Gregg level bad in the
Livan Hernandez playoff game, but at least Gregg was consistent. Nauert called several pitches strikes that were
six inches off the plate, but he also called a few balls on pitches that were plainly
in the zone. Let’s give him a pass, only
because his bizarre calls didn’t really favor one team over the other, and after
this great win I’m not in the mood to complain.
As I write
this, we don’t know whether the Braves lead will remain 4 ½ or go to 5 ½. The gNats and Brewers are 12-12 in the 12th. The Nationals overcame deficits of 5-0 and
8-5 to take an 11-8 lead going to the 9th. But Doolittle surrendered 4 and the Brewers
led 12-11 going to the bottom of the 9th. Hader allowed the Nats to score 1 run and then
loaded the bases with no outs and the top of the order coming up. The Nats win probability must have been about
99%. But of course Hader then struck out
Turner, Eaton, and Rendon to send it to extra innings.
I’m going to bed before that one is over. But whatever happens there, remember that the Braves and Natspos play seven games in September. It’s going to be a great race, but I like our chances. If the new bullpen guys can give us more like tonight, we’re in good shape.
Braves try to
win the series Sunday with Max Fried on the hill facing his hometown team. He grew up idolizing Koufax and trying to
copy him. Show them what you learned
from that, Max.