At a certain point, you just have to admit it wasn’t to be. Kyle Farnsworth, magnificent in the regular season, couldn’t hold a 6-1 lead, and the Braves couldn’t score for nine innings of tied baseball, losing in one of the strangest games ever played.
The Braves, for once, didn’t fall behind in the first. Hudson started and was extremely sharp, mowing the Astros down through the first four on one hit. LaRoche hit a grand slam in the third. Andruw got them a fifth run on a sac fly in the fifth. In the bottom of that inning, the Astros got a run but Hudson pitched out of a mini-jam. He got through the sixth and seventh.
The eighth inning was a disaster. Hudson gave up a hit to the leadoff man. Then the play that will be forgotten but essentially the first of the wounds that killed the Braves’ season; a grounder up the middle, fielded by Furcal, but he couldn’t get it cleanly out of his glove. He flipped to Marcus, who couldn’t tag the bag. Furcal should have thrown to first. Bobby brought in Farnsworth; I think he should have let Hudson have one more batter.
Farnsworth got a grounder to Chipper, who tagged the bag but couldn’t quite get the double play as Julio apparently came off the bag. (I don’t know. It was close.) Then Farnsworth walked the next guy, and Berkman (who kills him) hit a grand slam homer. 6-5. Another problem with bringing in Farnsworth there is that you can’t pull him to let McBride or Foster face Berkman. He got the next four men. But with two out in the ninth, Brad Ausmus hit a double that was scored a home run because the power alleys in this park are a joke. Tie game.
It went on and on. Garner overmanaged, running for Berkman. Reitsma pitched two great innings. Thomson pitched two good ones as well. Bobby probably wanted to leave him in, but had to hit for him with Orr, bases loaded two out; Orr grounded out. (McCann had struck out the batter before.) Brower went three shutout innings, getting Ensberg to hit into a double play. Out of relievers, Garner brought in Clemens. Jordan got a one-out double, but was stranded. Andruw reached on an error, but never got any further. Devine came in and was great in the seventeent. With one out in the eighteenth, he allowed a homer and the season ended.
I’ll try to have a postmortem starting tomorrow. I don’t know what the Braves can do at this point. I don’t know what the problem is.