The Braves haven’t been the same since the 18-inning loss in game four of the Division Series in 2005. Is it too much to ask that this might change things back? Probably. But still…
After a nearly two-hour rain delay, the game got doing about 2 o’clock my time. It ended at just about eight o’clock. I was thinking that this was going to be the first day game I ever had to go to bed before the end of. Chipper hit a two-out solo homer in the first to make it 1-0. The Braves had a shot to take a big lead in the third, when Infante doubled leading off and Prado followed with a single. (Sunday lineup, plus they started a lefty. I think. It was a long time ago.) Infante might have scored, but had pulled his hamstring again and could only make it to third, and Perry wound up running for him. Norton couldn’t get Perry home, and of course the Hamster failed utterly, and Morton grounded out.
Morton then had an Episode, giving up a two-out run, and then walking the bases loaded with a lot of help from the umpire. (Again, time to fire some of them.) He then gave up a grand slam to Ty F-ing Wigginton, and it was 5-1 and I figure, “ballgame”.
The Braves got two runs in the bottom of the inning, thanks largely to a triple from Chipper. (He wound up 3-5, the double short of the cycle, and four walks.) But that was it. Bobby got ejected protecting Blanco in the fifth after a bad half-swing call. Morton gave up a run in the sixth to make it 6-3. The bullpen took over — did they ever, going eleven innings of seven hit, nine-strikeout ball, most spectacularly Gonzalez, who threw two perfect innings with four strikeouts.
Teixiera doubled in Chipper in the seventh. In the eighth, Prado singled and KJ had a pinch-walk. McCann entered the game (this “off day” turned into a full nine-inning game for him, because Corky sucks) and struck out. But Blanco walked to load the bases, and Escobar singled to tie it.
And then it just went on and on and we all started to have flashbacks. Some of the things that happened today, I think: Ausmus left the game, which certainly took a load off my mind. Acosta failed on a bunt in the fourteenth, and wound up failing again in the sixteenth, and then strained his hamstring running it out to avoid the double play. Chipper kept walking. Perry, Kotsay, and McCann, none of whom started, wound up going 1-15, with the one hit by Perry, who doesn’t seem to be the answer. Buddy Carlyle threw three innings and had a single. The Braves left 21 men on base. Escobar made a game-saving play in the fifteenth, catching a one-out lineout with runners second and third, one out, after Prado committed an error on an easy double-play ball; Escobar’s play presumably gave Astros fans Walt Weiss flashbacks. They deserve it.
Finally, in the seventeenth, Blanco singled to center leading off. Escobar bunted, about which… sigh… but the throw brought the first baseman off the bag. Chipper singled hard to right, too hard to send Blanco with nobody out. The Astros, because he hadn’t quite seen everything yet, brought in Lee from left field to give them five infielders. Teixeira took the first pitch (getting out of the way of a ball that might have hit him) and then swung at a terrible pitch to make it 1-1. The third pitch was a towering fly ball that hit off the wall in left field. By rule, that’s a single.
Ring got the win — he was the second-to-last man in the bullpen, or actually the last, since Bennett was in the dugout. The Braves had seventeen hits and eleven walks. I expect that at least one of, if not both, Acosta and Infante will be put on the DL tomorrow; after a long game like this, they’ll probably bring up two pitchers, one only for a couple of days until Diaz is activated..