Another year, another division title.
It began with the Braves taking a 2-0 lead in the first on a double by Marcus, a triple by Drew, and a sac fly by Chipper. Then the Marlins scored two runs in the second. Then the Braves got a solo homer by Andruw, another one by Thomas, and Drew drove in Marcus again to make it 5-2. But Ortiz really didn’t have anything — yet again — and was pulled after loading the bases in the third. Unfortunately, Gryboski came in to allow a three-run double to make it 5-5.
The Marlins took the lead on a homer (by Alex Gonzalez, who hit the first one as well) in the sixth off of Cruz. Then Alfonseca, the other guy who’s been pitching well in the bullpen, allowed a run in the seventh.
But it can happen to anyone. Guillermo Mota, one of the best relievers around, allowed the Braves to load the bases on a walk to Julio, a single by Andruw, and a bunt single by Thomas. He got Marrero to strikeout as a pinch-hitter, but Furcal hit a sac fly, with Andruw also moving over to third. The Marlins brought in Benitez, who has been lights-out. But for some reason, they just let Charles Thomas steal second, then Marcus hit a two-RBI single to right to win the game. Smoltz wasn’t great, but got a double-play grounder to end it.
The Braves used eight pitchers, Travis Smith getting the win. The unsung hero might have been Colon, who pitched two innings, the fourth and fifth, of perfect baseball. Marcus was 3-4 with a walk; Estrada, Drew, Andruw, and Thomas all had two hits apiece.
The teams will play again tomorrow, with Mike Hampton pencilled in as the starter. We’ll see. I expect that several normal reserves will play for the Braves. Most certainly, Green or DeRosa will play second for Marcus, who’s gimpy, and either Andruw or Drew will take a game off.