– MLB – Recap – Braves at Expos – 09/16/2003

Excuse me, I’m going to just bang my head on the desk for a moment.

Okay, I’m back. The Braves had a 4-1 lead with two out in the eighth, and lost. Ray King, in relief of Maddux, had retired the first two batters of the inning, but walked Endy Chavez, of all people. Bobby brought in Jaret Wright, who had nothing, and on a HBP and a single allowed one run. Will Cunnane got out of the inning, but then allowed two doubles and an infield single, getting only one out, in the ninth. Mercker came in and will wind up with a blown save, but realistically did as well as anyone could to get out of the inning with the game tied. Having used his top four relievers (lefties good, righties bad) trying to hold the lead, and probably hoping to hold Darren Holmes back in case he got another one, Bobby brought in Roberto Hernandez. Boom-Boom managed to get an out before losing the game.

In a similar situation a few days ago, I blamed the offense for not getting more runs. This time, it’s more the bullpen’s fault, but don’t let the hitters off the hook. The game was scoreless until the seventh, but the Braves had many opportunities to score after that. After Chipper drove in two with a single in the eighth, Andruw and Javy (more on him later) struck out with two men on. And in the tenth, they had first and third nobody out and bases loaded one out, and couldn’t score, Andruw again striking out.

Javy did catch, with Maddux pitching, and it went splendidly. Maddux went seven, allowed only four hits, struck out three, didn’t walk anyone, and needed only 82 pitches to do it. I think it’s safe to say that Maddux and Javy can work together. Unfortunately, Javy made the choice to hit like Henry Blanco, going 0-4 with two strikeouts… Chipper had a great game, a homer, three hits, three RBI. He now has 101 RBI for the season, the fourth Brave to hit three digits.

The Braves clinched a postseason berth anyway; the Phillies and Marlins play so many games against one another down the stretch that they can’t both catch the Braves, and the Dodgers lost. The Marlins’ loss to the Phillies moves the magic number to two. A Braves win, no matter what happens, would eliminate the Phillies; combined with a Phillie win it would clinch the division. Mike Hampton pitches tonight, and I bet Bobby has a slow hook.