Thank God for Venezuela.
The Marlins took a 1-0 lead in the first on a solo homer by Hanley Ramirez, and it easily could have been worse; Gaby Sanchez, hitting in front of him, just missed a two-run homer, which turned into a double play instead. After that, Kris Medlen settled down, and basically matched Josh Johnson pitch-for pitch.
But Johnson still had that one-run lead, and the Braves couldn’t cash in chances by getting a two-out hit. That is, until the fifth, when Gregor Blanco (of Caracas) tripled, and when Medlen couldn’t get him in Martin Prado (of Maracay) came through with a single to tie the game.
In the seventh, Ramirez and Uggla singled and Medlen left with one out and runners first and third. Peter Moylan came in and did exactly what he’s supposed to do, getting Commando Cody Ross, of all people, to hit into a GIDP to end the threat. In the bottom of the inning Blanco walked and went to second on a groundout, then Prado hit an impossible pitch, way outside, past first base for his second RBI of the night, giving the Braves the lead.
Saito gave up a two-out single in the eighth but otherwise was fine. Unfortunately, Billy Wagner proved to be human after all, giving up a solo homer to Sanchez leading off the ninth inning. The Braves didn’t really threaten in the first two of extras. Jonny Venters, meanwhile, was his dominating self in the tenth (a strikeout and two groundouts) but gave up a leadoff hit to Wes Smelms in the eleventh, which apparently was the signal for everyone to start playing like eight-year-olds.
Chris Coghlan bunted, and Troy Glaus threw the ball away; Prado maybe could have come off the bag for it, but you can’t expect that from a second baseman, and it was first and third. After a lineout, Bobby had Venters walk Ramirez to load the bases, and by all rights it should have gotten them out of the inning. The next batter, a pinch-hitter, tried a squeeze bunt but couldn’t get the bat on the ball, and Smelms was dead meat, but scored in the rundown when Venters dropped the ball in front of the plate. Brian McCann, admittedly, screwed up first when he threw to Chipper at third rather than running Smelms back (the runner from second was already going to third). In case you’re keeping track, that’s four different Braves who screwed up defensively in the inning. Venters then struck out the hitter, and Uggla following, to keep the game 3-2.
Then the screwups fixed things. McCann walked to lead off the inning; I wondered why Bobby didn’t run Brandon Hicks for him. Glaus doubled over the second baseman. Hicks, who would have scored, ran for him instead, and it’s a good thing, too. Omar Infante, of Puerto La Cruz, worked the count and then hit a little flare to left-center. Ballgame.
For the record, the Venezuelans were 6-10 with a walk, all four RBI, and two runs scored; the various Domincans and Norteamericanos were 4-28.
(I’m trying out this Baseball-Reference tool, what do you think?)