What we have here is what Bill Simmons has christened a “No F-ing Way Game“. There was no reason that the Braves should have lost, but the Gods of Baseball, or the programmers of the video game the celestial 14-year-old was playing, or whatever, would not allow them to win. Other than two hits by Howard, I don’t think that the Phillies hit a ball hard all night. Four of their five runs came on hits by Jayson Werth, none of which were hit at all hard and the last of which (a single in the seventh that ended up the winning margin) was a pathetic popup that Blanco somehow couldn’t get to.
Not that the Braves didn’t play a part in this loss. They got three runs in the first, two scoring on a two-out single by Francoeur, but after that it was back to the Pittsburgh series. Eleven runners left on base, plus a GIDP and a terrible blown bunt leading to a caught stealing, more about which later. They didn’t score again until two out in the ninth, when McCann doubled over the centerfielder to score Kotsay (after Chipper almost tied it with a homer), but after a walk to Norton (still filling in for Teixeira) Francoeur put himself into a hole by swinging at two outside pitches, then flew out to end it.
The bunt. I think Bobby actually lost consciousness in the sixth inning. Joseph Reyes was actually pitching pretty well, except to Howard, but was trailing 4-3 because of numerous pathetic singles. With one out, KJ (moved to the seventh spot in the order, with Escobar leading off and Kotsay second) singled and Blanco walked. This is the most obvious pinch-hit situation you could think of before the ninth inning, but Bobby sent Reyes up to bunt. This was stupid enough. When you throw in that Reyes had already blown one bunt earlier in the game… Reyes again blew the bunt, even worse this time, getting KJ picked off second, and scoring chance wasted. It was a horrible, horrible managing job.
Chipper had three hits and is at .415.