I have a confession to make.
I came to Braves fandom late, after cable came to my North Carolina mill town in 1981. I had been a Pirates fan before falling under the sway of Horner, Knucksie, and the Murph. And maybe Skip, Pete, and Ernie had something to do with it as well.
Anyway, my confession is that for some reason I hated the Giants more than the Dodgers. I mean, I hated the dodgers, but I LOATHED the Giants. It was probably that stupid Croix de Candlestick promotion they used to run. Or the fact that Bob Brenley could boot four (!) ground balls in one inning and still hit two homers (one a walk-off) to beat Atlanta. And Robby Thompson and Will Clark would drive me absolutely crazy. Later on, of course, we got the Slug, and of course, Posey is still out.
Anyway, I settled in after volunteering to do some recaps, and promptly watch Mike Minor, making his season debut, give up a lead-off homer to Angel Pagan and a vicious line drive single to Hunter Pence on his first three pitches. However, he settled down to get out of the inning without any further damage.
Minor wasn’t terribly sharp, giving up hits in each of the first 4 innings, but they were effectively scattered. Meanwhile the Braves weren’t doing much against Tim Lincecum, stranding two runners in the 1st and 2nd innings. (Regression with a ground out in the first, Heyward popping out in the second.) It was a theme they would revisit several times tonight.
They finally broke through against The Freak in the 5th, as Freeman battled through dry eyes to score Another Fredi Gonzalez, who had walked. Unfortunately Justin Upton’s liner to left stayed up just enough for Michael Morse to ooze under it for the last out. And then Morse continued to torment Minor by homering with one out in the 6th.
Minor wound up going 6 innings, throwing 80 pitches, striking out 4 with 7 hits and no walks. Certainly an encouraging season debut, despite the two solo shots. Ian Thomas walked the first two Giants in the 7th, and when the Original Fredi Gonzalez came out to get him, the potential for Anthony Varvaro to surrender the Double Grybo loomed large with Pagan and Pence due up. But, we got the Good Anthony, who fanned both to strand the runners at second and third.
The Braves put Heyward and Justin on in the bottom of the 7th, but Chris Johnson, celebrating his three year contract extension, struck out to end the inning. Justin followed his 7th inning walk by misplaying Pablo Sandoval’s two out liner in the 8th into a single, but Jordan Walden struck out Hector Sanchez to end the inning.
The Braves did threaten with two outs in the 9th, with B.J. Upton singling (after having seemingly been jobbed on a fair/foul call by the third base umpire) and Freeman working a walk off Sergio Romo, but Justin Upton looked at a called strike 3 to end the game, since it’s not April anymore.
The Braves left 12 men on base, and were 1 for 9 with men in scoring position. Vogelsong versus Teheran tomorrow. As Chip’s grandfather would say, “Let’s score some runs!”