Where to begin… Chris Reitsma makes Danny Kolb look like Mariano Rivera. Well, that’s one place to begin. There is no way to make an ordered recap of such events except chronologically, so here goes…
The Braves took a 1-0 lead in the first with a solo shot by Renteria, who had been in a mini-slump (.200 for the road trip coming in) but broke out big today. Unfortunately, Smoltz then allowed four runs as the Cubs batted around in the bottom of the inning. It looked to me that with the wind blowing out, he might have been trying a little too hard to get the ball down and wasn’t in control, as he hit one guy (that is, he brushed his uniform, and why is that a HBP anyway?) and walked two others.
But then the Braves came back, chasing the Cubs’ starter Jae Kuk Ryu. LaRoche homered, Langerhans homered, and then Marcus hit a three-run homer to take the lead. Glendon Rusch came on and the Rob Deer Derby commenced, as for the next several innings the Braves either struck out or hit a homer. The Cubs tried to rally, but Francoeur threw out the catcher Barrett trying to score from second on a single to end the second. Rusch struck out the first five men he faced. Pena, in for Pratt who was hurt in a collision at the plate, was sacrificed to second and scored on a Renteria single to make it 7-4.
The Cubs got the run back in the bottom of the inning on a sac fly, Langerhans singled in Francoeur to make it 8-5 in the fifth. Then in the sixth, Renteria hit his second homer, his fourth hit. Two batters later, Andruw hit one to the street, then Rusch came out and LaRoche hit his second of the day to make it 11-5 and the Braves are cruising, right?
Only Smoltz then tires (it was about 95 degrees on the field) and after making an error allows hits to three of the next four batters to make it 11-8. Brayan Pena leads off the seventh with a homer, his first career and tying a franchise record for homers in a game. Smoltz is pinch-hit for by Orr, who strikes out and then starts yelling at the umpire for some reason, maybe because he’s from Canada and not used to the heat, I don’t know.
Paronto allows a walk in the seventh, McBride a single in the eighth, but that’s it. Bobby hits Jordan for Chipper, for some reason, maybe Chipper was feeling sick or something, and he was 0-3 with two walks on a day where everybody else has a couple of hits, and Betemit stays in after hitting for McBride to play third base. Bobby comes in with Cormier, who allows singles sandwiching a fly to the warning track. Reasonably, he comes out. But Bobby comes in with Reitsma, this time without Ray or Remlinger getting ready just in case.
What happened next was inevitable. The pinch-hitter doubles off of Betemit’s glove (some people on the game thread blamed Betemit — I was listening to the radio and didn’t see the play, but Betemit generally is a better third baseman than Chipper, especially going to his left and right) and then Neifi Perez, of all people, just misses a homer, winding up at third, the tying run, with one out. Reitsma got a dribbler to the mound and threw home, but Pena couldn’t get the tag. He finally got an out, then a single to make it first and third, and he’s still out there, and at last gets a groundout to send it to extra innings.
It’s hard to see what Bobby was thinking there, as he’s usually had someone ready just in case in Reitsma’s last few outings. I can only see it as a passive-aggressive sort of “You gave him to me, I’m going to use him” to Schuerholz, or an attempt to make it so obvious Reitsma can’t be used as to get him disposed of somehow. I don’t think of it as “stubbornness” so much as hanging a guy out to dry.
Anyway, the game goes to the eleventh, where Langerhans leads off with a pop-fly that Aramis Ramirez allowed to bounce off his head, putting the hitter at second. Pena got him to third, but Betemit couldn’t get him home. Marcus hit a liner, the left fielder trapped it, and the Braves took a 13-12 lead. After all that, Ken Ray came in and got a 1-2-3 save in the twelfth, capping it with a strikeout. Oscar Vultureal went to 7-0 after pitching the tenth with no damage.
Let’s see… The Braves struck out eighteen times but had that many hits as well, and hit eight homers. The Braves’ pitchers, meanwhile, didn’t allow a homer but struck out only two. (18-2 in strikeouts and you lose? Has that ever happened before?) Renteria had four hits; Giles, Andruw, LaRoche, Francouer, Langerhans, and Pena all had two.
The Braves play a day game against the Dodgers tomorrow. It will be 137 degrees out there, so drink plenty of fluids.