Atlanta 6 Houston 5

ESPN.com – MLB – Recap

Do the Astros have a curse? I think that the Astros might have a curse. The Curse of Joe Morgan?

The Braves started out today’s game scoring two runs in the top of the second. But then Ortiz allowed five runs in the bottom of the inning, highlighted by Biggio’s three-run homer. And the Astros looked like they might finally have won a postseason series.

But Ortiz, somehow, got through the next two innings without allowing a run. Gryboski pitched two scoreless innings. Then one of the Braves who’d actually shown up for the series, Adam LaRoche, hit a three-run homer off of Qualls (who’d relieved Clemens to start the inning), scoring a pair of Joneses, to tie the score.

Alfonseca allowed a hit and a walk, but this time Bobby let him pitch out of it in the bottom of the inning. Hampton came in to pitch the seventh and walked one, but that was it.

Lidge came in with one out and one on in the eighth. He got Andruw and LaRoche — no small task, in this series — but Garner once again screwed up. He didn’t double-switch, and Lidge was due up fifth in the next inning. And he’d already used up his better “other” relievers.

Sure enough, Smoltz started the eighth. (His spot in the order was safely far away.) He got the first two, but then allowed a pair of soft singles. And Lidge’s spot was due up. Garner pinch-hit, Smoltz got the pinch-hitter… And Russ Springer was the Astros’ pitcher.

He got Perez and Thomas, but hit Furcal. Rafael stole second, and Drew singled him in. (Bobby, as you can see, fiddled with the lineup, flipping Drew and Giles, and also Andruw and LaRoche.) 6-5 Braves. Springer got Marcus to end the inning.

Smoltz got Beltran leading off, but then allowed back-to-back singles to Bagwell and Berkman. Then Jeff Kent came to the plate, less than two out and the tying run at third… GIDP, 6-3, game over, we’re headed back to Atlanta for Game Five.

It’ll be a day game if the Dodgers extend their series tonight, a night game if the Cards win. Wright will face Oswalt, who will be on three day’s rest and warmed up in the pen yesterday. Both managers should be in an anyone-will-pitch mode, with Ortiz and Clemens the only likely holdouts. I don’t know who that favors. 55 percent chance of a Braves win, most likely scenario (there are only two, of course) Braves in five.

40 thoughts on “Atlanta 6 Houston 5”

  1. I thought we were done as soon as Ortiz gave up the homer, but then again, I’m an idiot. The bullpen continues to alternate between wonderful and horrible; Giles looks like his shoulder is hanging on by a thread; and Andruw is playing like Reggie Jackson on steroids. What are the odds we can sell out the game tomorrow? I wish I still lived in Atlanta.

  2. I’m just glad we didn’t go out because of some bullshit roof on a shitty park. That would leave me far more pissed off then just getting beat.

  3. I amazed. I was at the Falcons game and saw the 5-2 score. I got to catch the end of the game at home. Just like last year so far. Let’s hope this ending is different than last year. I’m thinking it will either be a close win by the Astros or a blowout by the Braves.

    The Braves will have to use 6 pitchers a game to get through the next series though. With Thomson and Hampton both ailing, it’s gonna be fun.

  4. Since my response (which I already posted) to certain questions posed to me in the comments section of Mac’s post from yesterday will probably go unread I am including it here:

    I don’t really think that the Astros are punks. I said that to inspire a little spirit in those who had already notched the Braves a loss in today’s game. I brought up the 1996 team for the same reason. Rhetorical devices. Also, I think one is hard pressed to say a team from one year is better or worse than a team from another year if they both make the post-season — an argument that can’t take in to account the so-called “intangibles” that make every team and situation different otherwise the argument is subjective and therefore inferior since it relies on suppositions based on personal beliefs and observations and not facts that are verifiable. That is not to say that statistics can’t be definitive but I think we all know that they’re not always capable of painting the whole picture. In addition, the Braves *are* under the same leadership as they were in 1996 which *is* relevant to the 2004 Braves. Plus, the post-season changes everything. A cliche for sure but nonetheless true. The desire to win, to be the best as well as the pressure involved can make average teams great and great teams pathetic despite their regular season accomplishments — something all Braves fans know and have experienced (much to our dismay). However, the point is that anything is possible when great teams rise to the occassion and the 1996 NLCS is a great example of that principle. I thought that was clear. Apparently not. My apologies. Of course, I am assuming that you all think that the Braves have a very good team this year even if they don’t belt home runs out of the ballpark every two seconds or have the services of Glavine and Maddux. Somehow, we still made it, folks.

    Guess I was wrong about Russ but Bobby made things work and Smoltz was great even if things did get a little tight for him. Also, looks as if Chipper and Drew are getting things together which could be a harbinger of an explosive Game 5.

    Go Braves!!

  5. Root for a Cards win tonight to set up a nighttime start for the Braves on Monday. I don’t know about anybody else, but I’d rather not have to contend with Jaret Wright’s day game demons if we can help it. He definitely has the potential to dominate game five either way, but inexplicably more so at night. Go Cards…for now.

  6. Correct me if I’m wrong, but the Braves seem to be showing more discipline at the plate. That and the fact that they’ve played error-free ball has kept them in the series. For example, Drew’s discipline forced Springer to groove a pitch, which Drew hit for the winning RBI. I don’t have a TV, but it sounded like Chipper caught a break on a split-finger fastball that he rolled over and got through the right side when Clemens was still in the game. And Andruw has been laying off that stuff down and away. The Braves are showing patience and discipline at the plate the way the Yankees have done so well in the past. Go Braves!

  7. I am particularly impressed with Andruw’s performance. Talk about “locked in”. I was hoping that he would eschew his regular season habit of swinging at junk pitches and show some patience. It seemed in 2003 that he was better at that type of behavior but this year he seems a different hitter. I guess you can’t take the Andruw out of Andruw but at least he’s making things happen now when it really counts.

  8. This game completely drained me to watch. Just amazing. That was just the kind of game where they folded in past years. Kudos for the comeback.

    Big concern for tomorrow is the bullpen. Alfonseca and Gryboski have pitched a lot, as has Smoltz. So that likely means we’ll see Reitsma and/or Tom Martin out there *shudder*

  9. Do the line-up shifts continue tomorrow? Are you tired of Joe Morgan belaboring mental mistakes?
    I had to agree with him, though, on Garner’s pulling Biggio and his use of Lidge. I can’t think of any explaination, either.
    Go Braves!

  10. Joe Morgan is a lot better now than he used to be. Years past, I hated listening to him but he has mellowed considerably and actually offers some thoughtful commentary IMHO. However, he still plays favorites from time to time. For instance, I won’t listen to any game he calls that has anything to do with Barry Bonds although I can’t stand Bonds and perhaps that is the reason. I’m not big on “cult of personality”. Bonds may be the greatest player in baseball but I have utterly no respect for him because I have watched him play for many, many years and know… That is not an indictment of him as a person, per se, but I think it is difficult to make some judgements about him as baseball player that don’t touch on that. Let me put it this way: Whether he breaks the Hammer’s record or not (and he is certain to do so), he’ll never be the Hammer or come close to Aaron’s prestige because Bonds is not a leader of men. Period. I could go on an on and I’m sure I’ll get flamed but, hey, that is my 2 cents. Ask Jeff Kent (thought it was appropriate since we’re playing the Astros). A little off topic, I suppose, so my apologies but that 12 pack is working its magic.

    Cheers!!! Go Braves!!!!

  11. sansho1,

    “I can dig it — I think I called the Tennessee Vols punks just yesterday…..”

    Yeah, so did I. I grew up a Bulldogs fan during the Hershall Walker era but I’m a UF alumnist and have every reason to hate both Tennessee and Georgia although I can never truly hate the Dawgs but my Gators take primacy and it would have been better for us if Georgia had beat Tennessee and then we could beat Georgia and…you get the picture. Unfortunately, the Gators got whacked by LSU and I’m still trying to figure that one out so the whole issue is moot.

  12. Andruw is hotter then fire right now. nice job by bobby to move andruw to the #6 spot in the order.. BRAVES IN 5.

    GO BRAVES

  13. Choosing between Joe Morgan and Jeff Brantley is like choosing whether you’d rather drown or burn to death. I’m really glad I have MLB Radio, because there’s not an ESPN or FOX baseball team that I want to hear for any amount of time.

  14. Brian,

    (Rest of you forgive me but I’ve got to know)

    What exactly happened against LSU? I’m still a high school loser, so I had my homecoming dance last night and I missed the UF-LSU game. Did Zook insist on calling the damn prevent defense again or did LSU just stick it to us in the second half. I left when Dee Webb picked Russell and took it to the five so I figured things would go Florida’s way, but I was sadly mistaken. So yeah, let me know what the hell happened. I’m very subtlely furious.

  15. I agree with Boyd — it’s a good thing to have a night game on Monday. Let’s have Jaret go 7 with Alfonseca and Smoltz finishing, OK?

  16. Former Brave and 96 MVP Ken Caminiti has just died at 41

    As has Christopher Reeve. I think, towards the end, that Reeve was the better first baseman.

    (Rimshot, followed by hurled tomatoes….)

  17. A think we should flip Andrew and Giles in the order. Maybe even let Andrew hit second so he can get a few more fastballs with Furcal on base. I hope we sell out Turner Field. i would go, but every playoff game I go to they lose. I don’t want to be the jinx. Too bad Braves fans in Atlanta suck like the Georgia Bulldogs. Go Vols!

  18. One thing I am enjoying hearing, whether it is warranted or not, is the criticism of Garner’s late-inning moves. I’m not able to point to anything specific, but it usually seems like that sort of stuff has been on us the last few years. It’s nice to get some “breaks” during the playoff; although don’t get me started on that stupid roof . . . .

  19. I will guarantee a sellout tonight. The fans in Atlanta are truly fired up and it would have sold out even if it was a day game. It’s a holiday and many schools are out as are adults from work.

    I think Garners two major errors involving Lidge, which I believe cost them both games could be his undoing. I said Lidge was the wildcard in all of this and he was. Not effective enough in game 2 and used at the wrong time in game 4. If Garner gets manager of the year over Cox, someone should check to see if the voters are getting those Iraqi Oil for food bribes.

  20. I despise Joe Morgan and I strongly dislike Jeff Brantley, but my question is WHERE IS SKIP CARAY? Why is he not on the Braves’ radio broadcasts since the post-season started? You can’t have the Braves in the post-season without Skip!!!

  21. 1. In the 9th inning yesterday, I promised God that if JD got a hit, I’d stop calling him Sheffield.
    2. I saw a brief note on the web that Thomson is “unavailable for the rest of the post-season.” Any confirmation on that?
    3. No tickets available on Ticketmaster as of 2 PM.

  22. i would go, but…I don’t want to be the jinx. Too bad Braves fans in Atlanta suck

    Sorry Billy, but that’s a terribly flimsy excuse. Shouldn’t you come up with something better before making ignorant generalizations about fans in other areas.

    I hope we sell out Turner Field.

    What do you mean by “we”? You’re not going, remember? I think you need to find another bandwagon to jump on.

  23. go Braves, baby! This has been a nail-bitingly close playoff so far. More so than either of the last two years, even, methinks, because of the way we’ve fallen behind in the game count and in each game we’ve won so far to tie the series, we started the 9th inning tied.

    I must admit, I’ve been wondering where Julio has been, since last year a lot of us blamed the Fick-over-Julio choices for us losing the cubs series. But Mr. LaRoche has put an end to any of that. He’s another big hit away from series MVP consideration.

    Yet another decisive game 5 at Turner Field. You know, it cuts both ways. You can be down that the team may just lose a third straight division series and fourth in five years.

    Or, you can prefer to be optimistic, at least for the next six hours, and think ‘you know, there are 25 teams whose fans are mourning their seasons right now, and maybe thinking about next year.’ But once again, our Braves are right there in the thick of things, still playing. We’ve got a scrappy team that can be very fun to watch, a “chemistry”-laden amalgam of new faces and old warhorses. One thing you can say for the team is they don’t simply follow convention. And whatever prognosticators might predict, and however many people think they know who the better team(s) are, nobody in the world could tell you with conviction what’s going to happen tonight.

    The stage is set. We’ve been waiting for this since March. But though the days of summer might be slipping away (it’s really cold in NYC today), there’s time enough to take the field and play another baseball game. Go Braves!!!

  24. The Ted will be sold out tonight.. I would go.. but I live in NC.. I’ll be watching it on TV like always.. Go Braves.

  25. Thomson is out for the duration of the playoffs — which hopefully is more than one game. That’s a killer. I don’t know who the Braves would swap in for him in a putative NLCS.

  26. All I can say is go Braves….I really hope this is the year that we can finally win this fifth game of the NLDS…I’m looking forward to the game, although I’m worried due to the fact that our last two losses were to teams with horrific playoff histories, the Giants and the Cubs. I just hope we don’t become Houston’s first playoff victim…

  27. What makes this Braves team so special is their ability to come back from a deficit, which is something they have in common with the ’95 team. I’m confident they’ll find a way to beat Oswalt and the Astros tonight.

    To pick up on Mac’s comment about Thomson’s potential absence from the NLCS, would the Braves call up someone from Richmond to bolster the bullpen or would they try to strengthen the bench? Now that Jesse Garcia is gone and Wise is already with the team, who do the Braves have in reserve?

  28. Please, oh please folks, we need all the karma we can get. Don’t jinx tonight by talking about tomorrow.

  29. Or, you can prefer to be optimistic, at least for the next six hours…

    Although it’s against my nature, I think I’ll give that a try. This team has really shown me something this series. In past years there is just no way we win Game 4, not after the four run rafter fiasco. But everybody is pitching in, we are getting a few breaks here and there, and suddenly I’m a believer. How weird is it that when we need some runs I’m thinking, “If we can only get someone on and get LaRoche up there…”

    With Wright pitching a night game, Oswalt on three days rest, Lidge fatigued, and Garner doing is best Bob Brenly impersonation, I think we can win this thing.

  30. Sorry, guys. Didn’t mean to look that far ahead; it’s just that I got caught up in all the excitement. “One game at a time,” etc.

    Go Braves!

  31. What’s the weather like in Atlanta right now? A postponement would help my Astros a bit. :)

    Great games this weekend, the Braves showed some clutch hitting and good bullpen work yesterday, while Garner totally botched things on his end.

  32. Since you ask, there appears to be some fairly large clouds rolling in south of the stadium with some clear patches mixed in here and there. It had been very clear and sunny at the stadium up until just a few minutes ago. There may be some light scattered rain tonight. I doubt that it will be enough to delay the game. But I’m not a weatherman so don’t take my word for it.

    Interesting trend in the series: Braves run totals over the first four games have been 3,4,5, and 6 respectively. Looks like we’d have a shot if we just hold them to six runs or less. : )

  33. It’s raining in Tuscaloosa. Normally, that means it will start raining in Atlanta in a few hours, but I think this is coming from the south, not the west, so it depends on the size of the system.

    Hmm. I don’t know how fast this is moving, but by the radar it’s hit Columbus, heading north. It’s not really very heavy and they could probably play through if need be.

  34. John Smoltz was on the Jim Rome show today and according to Rome, Smoltz is a very solid guy. Indeed. Also, apparently Peter Gammons has a “special feeling” about the Astros tonight. Gammons, you are the man but keep your special feelings to yourself. Go Braves!!!

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