It doesn’t make up for last year, but it felt good. The Braves got five runs on ten hits in seven innings off of Kerry Wood. They hit two homers, and only struck out three times. After Wood’s performance in the clincher last year, it was nice to see him get slapped around and take a loss.
The Braves almost blew it, however. Or rather, Chris R—— (I won’t use his name anymore after this one) almost blew it. Handed a 5-1 lead in the ninth, with Smoltz in the booth talking to Skip and Joe, He Who Will Not Be Named came in to allow two singles and a two-run double while getting only one out. R——, whose ERA for the season is now over four, actually had to get bailed out by Gryboski, of all people, who allowed one run on a wild pitch and single but then got a couple outs to end it, and possibly the Cubs’ season.
Mike Hampton had a terrific day. In six innings he allowed four hits and one run, striking out five, though he did issue four walks. But besides that, his slumbering bat awoke with a 2-3 day, including a two-run homer in the fourth. DeWayne Wise also hit a two-run homer, in the second; Wise was the only player in the lineup today who normally wouldn’t be; I don’t know if there’s something wrong with Thomas or if Bobby just wanted to get Wise some ABs, but all the other regulars were in. LaRoche scored on both the homers, and Estrada drove in Drew for the Braves’ last run in the fifth.
Tom Martin needed only five pitches to retire the Cubs in the seventh. Before the bottom of the eighth, the ever-churlish Cubs fans caused a delay by throwing garbage on the field. That didn’t stop Base12 from retiring the Cubs in order.
Thomson is going tomorrow, or is on the schedule at any rate. That would mean that most likely the rotation against the Dodgers or Astros (with the Cubs all but dead) will be Ortiz-Wright-Hampton-Thomson. Wright did throw in the bullpen today, but all reports are he won’t be available until Game 2 at the earliest. It’s a lot of faith they’re showing towards Ortiz, who hasn’t beaten a good team since the game before the All-Star Break, and that was the Phillies.