Atlanta 3 Pittsburgh 2 – MLB – MLB RECAP

Just like that, you can redeem yourself. Rafael Furcal, as I wrote below, seemed top be trying to win the game for the Pirates singlehandedly, committing two errors and starting 0-4 including a double play. And then, with one out, the bases loaded, and the game tied at 2 in the ninth, he singled home the winning run off of Jose Mesa. Yes, the Jose Mesa, who’s worth an elite prospect to hear the Pirates tell it.

The Braves fell behind 2-0 after three innings. John Thomson was pitching as well as he has in months, striking out five, walking one, and allowing only five hits, all singles, in six innings. It looked like he’d get hung with a loss, though, because the Braves (as predicted last night) went into hitless wonder mode versus Josh Fogg. (Actually, he allowed five hits in 5 2/3, not six hits as I’d predicted. Sorry.) The Braves’ only run entering the ninth came when Nick Green (who went 3-4 starting for Marcus Giles) singled in Marrero in the fifth.

But in the ninth, Estrada singled and Franco hit an infield single; DeRosa, running for Estrada, went to third on an error. DeRosa scored when Mesa — showing the brilliant baseball instincts for which he’s been long noted — tried to turn a double play and didn’t get anyone. Green screwed up the bunt, getting Julio forced at third, but Eddie Perez walked and Furcal singled in Marrero.

Meanwhile, the bullpen was great again. Juan Cruz not only pitched, he pitched the eighth in a one-run game, threw a 1-2-3 inning with a strikeout, and got a win! Alfonseca allowed a single but erased the runner on a double play to end the seventh. Smoltz, of course, got the Pirates with no problems in the ninth.

In addition to Giles, Andruw started the game on the bench, with Drew playing center, Marrero right, and Thomas left. Andruw hit for Thomas in the eighth, I’m not sure why — perhaps to get a lefty out of the game. He singled, but in the ninth popped up with one out and the bases loaded, thereby adding fire to the Andruw-Haters Club. Giles pinch-hit as well, and in fact Bobby emptied the bench.

The Marlins mugged the Phillies again — I can’t believe Larry Bowa is still employed — and both teams are now 3 1/2 out. I told you, never count out the Marlins. The Mets are winning big late and will stay six out. The Braves now host those Mets for three, starting with another Hampton-Trachsel classic. Get out the No-Doz. It will be the Braves’ last series in the division until the end of August when they play at Philly. Considering that the Braves are 31-15 against the division and 23-30 against everyone else, they need to step up. The Marlins play the Expos, the Phillies the Cubs.

16 thoughts on “Atlanta 3 Pittsburgh 2”

  1. You didn’t mention Charles Thomas’ catch in the first, which resulted in a double play when Thomson wasn’t getting anyone out. That loomed huge late in the game.

  2. Well, in common with most of the games lately I haven’t actually seen any of it. I have to work, you know.

  3. I didn’t see the game either, so can someone please explain how Franco, of all people, managed to leg out an infield hit??

  4. I watched the game on TIVO and the last few innings live during my lunch hour.

    The play by Thomas was awesome, and really did save the Braves from getting blown out early.

    Mesa wasn’t the one responsible for attempting to turn a double play in the 9th, let me tell you how it unfolded:

    -Estrada grounded a ball into RF as the first batter, a play easily made by Craig Wilson if the Pirates aren’t guarding the lines in that situation. Would someone please explain to me why you guard the lines here? Is the difference between a single and double really important enough to significantly increase the chance that the batter will reach?

    -Derosa pinch-ran for Estrada

    -Franco hit a weak grounder to the hole between SS and 3B. Jack Wilson got to it, but fired his throw into RF when he attempted to force DeRosa at 2nd base. This shouldn’t have been an infield hit, it should have just been an error, as Wilson had plenty of time to throw out either runner. DeRosa moved to 3rd

    -Eli Marrero hit a weak grounder to 2b with the infield playing halfway in, and for some inexplicable reason, Jose Castillo decided to come home with the throw, way too late.

    -Nick Green laid down a good bunt, but the Pirates took a weird gamble by throwing to 3rd base, where Julio Franco messed up by sliding too soon going into 3rd base. He would have easily been safe if he had just run to 3rd base and stopped.

    So… Mesa actually should’ve had a 1-2-3 inning in the 9th, but the Braves got a lot of weird breaks and circumstances to break for them.

  5. Juan Cruz’s last 10 appearances:

    3-0, 0.61 ERA, 14.2 IP, 9 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 16 K

    Unfortuanately, it has taken him nearly 6 weeks to accumulate these 10 appearances. I’m not sure what it’s going to take to get Bobby’s attention. You would think he would notice since the rest of the non-Smoltz bullpen guys are looking very shaky.

  6. Hate to say it Mac, but sweeping the Phillies just ain’t that much of a big deal. The Marlins got swept by both the Expos and Pirates and are 8 games under .500 if you take out the Phillies wins. So, they are not back in it yet. They still have to play teams they can’t beat.

    Both the Braves and Marlins play teams they should beat a lot. The winner of this division will be determined over these next two weeks. The Phillies have it a bit tougher, so look for Millwood to hit the waiver wire by August 10-15 along with Bowa.

  7. Well, look at the bright side – Juan actually got into a close game. That has to count for something, and I imagine it got Bobby’s attention.

  8. -Eli Marrero hit a weak grounder to 2b with the infield playing halfway in, and for some inexplicable reason, Jose Castillo decided to come home with the throw, way too late.

    Joe Simpson was all over this before it happened. He noted that the Pirates were playing the infield halfway, and said it puts the infielders in a bad position. Either you play in and cut off the run, or play back for the DP, but to play halfway forces the fielder to make a decision on the fly, which Castillo screwed up. The grounder by Marrero could have resulted in an acceptable outcome for the Pirates, if only they had committed to a decision beforehand. The Braves don’t make this mistake often.

  9. Well, in common with most of the games lately I haven’t actually seen any of it.

    I haven’t seen many Braves games lately either. Why aren’t they on TBS anymore? Of course they were on today, but I was at work. I am in Virginia and don’t get Sports South or whatever the alternate station is. Instead, I get Orioles games.

  10. Andy – get the Extra Innings package if you can, or something on through

    It really is a nice investment in a summer’s worth of enjoyment.

  11. Mac, what is the story exactly with why the Braves don’t appear as much on TBS? I seem to remember reading an ESPN story two or three years ago which was about a new MLB agreement that clubs with “superstations” would show no more than half of their games on that station, with the rest of their games scattered among regional stations only (Turner South) and the rest for FOX and ESPN. Presumably this was set up to boost things like the MLB league pass, or whatever it is, that lets you watch or listen to games for a monthly fee. What I don’t get is why the bigger clubs, like the Yankees or Red Sox or Braves for that matter, with fan bases across the country, would ever agree to this. Bill Simmons, the Sports Guy on ESPN, has a funny article about how he was in Vegas during the Yankees-Red Sox brawl and couldn’t see it because it was blacked out. I just can’t think this has worked out well for MLB or the bigger teams.

  12. I finally gave up on TBS. I think that, in anticipation of eventually selling the Braves and having to pay a true arms’ length price to beam them across the country, Time Warner is trying to wean folks from baseball. Who wouldn’t rather have an expurgated Sex and the City and the fiftieth Friends rerun? In any case, I finally signed up for the DirectTV MLB package, so I can get the games even up here in dreaded Mets- and Yankee-land. Even Wednesday’s game was available on FSN Pittsburgh. Another $150 well spent.

  13. There was a big lawsuit over this. Local stations complained that TBS, and to a lesser extent WGN, and to a much lesser extent WOR, the three superstations, were ruining the local market for their games, and MLB was mad because their exclusivity to make deals with others had diminished value. The settlement involved a dramatic reduction of games on TBS and WGN (WOR doesn’t do baseball anymore). What we’re seeing now, of course, is a reduction far below that level, so I’m pretty sure it’s TBS’s call, not any part of the settlement.

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