Life, it is said, is not fair. You do not need to tell this to John Smoltz, not just because he is in his forties and is familiar with most cliches, but also because of the events of the past five days juxtaposed with the events of tonight. After scoring over six runs a game back with strong relief pitching during a five-game win streak, the Braves:
1. Couldn’t get a run, or any real threats of runs, off the pitcher to the right, and;
2. Gave up five runs in the ninth due to complete relief pitcher incompetence that may, at some point, have involved Chris Resop soiling himself.
Said Washington pitcher, whom ESPN did not have a photo of, is John Lannan, who
joined with Paul Macartny for one of the greatest songwriting teams in popular music history held the Braves to five hits in seven innings. It will come as no surprise that Lannan is a nondescript lefthander who entered the day with a 4.86 ERA which he lowered by exactly one run. He is the same guy whom the Braves pounded for six runs in four innings on the twelfth. Tonight, he looked unhittable.
Where is Yoko when you need her?
John Smoltz, meanwhile, picked up his 3000th career strikeout in the third inning on his way to perhaps the Braves’ most impressive pitching performance of the year. He didn’t walk anyone and allowed just five hits in seven himself, but unfortunately two were back-to-back doubles in the second — the second of them to Willie Harris, of all people — to score a run. And got hung with a loss.
Boyer (whose labrum, at this point, would not be insured by Lloyd’s of London) and Ring got through the eighth. But Jorge Campillo couldn’t do it in the ninth, throwing away a potential 1-6-3 DP ball that would have ended the inning. By the time he got out of there, two runs had scored. And Bobby, probably feeling that the game was lost anyway, brought in Resop.
I figured that Christopher Resop’s middle name would have to be something worse than “Kali”. “Lucifer”, perhaps. But it’s just “Paul”. At any rate, Resop pulled off the rare Triple Grybo, allowing three of Campillo’s inherited runners to score (all unearned, though) while not allowing any of his own to cross the plate. You have to be impressed by that.
The bottom of the ninth was remarkable only for the way it ended, Mark Kotsay striking out. The reason this was remarkable is that there weren’t two runners on base as there were the first time he struck out, or the time he popped out to short. The Braves “offense” was Francoeur — who had two four-pitch walks to go with a single! — Diaz (2-4), and Escobar (2-4). Prado had a pinch-hit walk, and that platoon is probably looking really good to Bobby right now, and I may yet come around on it. Chipper was hitless, breaking his streak, and all in all the switch hitters and lefties were completely productionless tonight. If you want to look on the bright side, the Marlins and Mets both lost, so the Braves could move into a tie for first place with a sweep of the upcoming microseries with Florida. This breaks my rule about talking about the race before the break, but I could use a little optimism right now.