The Braves offense has proven that they hate all of their starting pitchers, but they especially hate Alex Wood and outright refuse to score when he is in the game. In the wake of their division-clinching victory last night, the Nationals started the Syracuse Chiefs lineup and threw a rookie in place of Gio Gonzalez. Wood starting against a rookie, the Nationals countering with a AAA lineup…against the Braves, that script would seemingly write itself.
Wood looked like his normal awesome self. Then in the 5th, someone named Steven Souza hit his first career home run. Ballgame? For the first five innings, it seemed as though Clayton Kershaw had sneaked his way on the Nationals roster, celebrated Halloween early, and disguised himself as a Blake Treinen, holding the Braves offense in check. It would have been an impressive performance, but IWOTB.
To be fair to the Braves, the Chiefs did win their division, so it’s not like the Gnats were throwing any old AAA team out there.
Then the 6th inning happened. I saw it, or else I might not believe it actually happened. The Braves threw the script out of the window, scored multiple runs for Wood, and took the lead. Phil Gosselin led off the inning with his second of three hits of the night, and Ramiro Pena followed that with a single of his own. Freddie Freeman tried to Barve it up and hit into a double play, but he beat the throw and so the Nationals settled for a fielder’s choice. Justin Upton struck out looking on a breaking ball (an improvement over the first inning, when he grounded into a double play in a similar situation), and then Jason Heyward was hit on the thumb to load the bases. Christian Bethancourt guided a ball off the first baseman’s glove into right field (basically, the moral of the inning was hit the ball on the ground to the right side of the National’s AAA infield, and good things will happen), clearing the bases when the Nationals lobbed the ball back into the infield and Jason Heyward took advantage of that to score from first on a ball that didn’t make it more than 30 feet away from the infield. Heart and Hustle Award recipient right there.
Suddenly the Braves had scored Wood a month’s worth of runs in one inning and he had to quickly relearn how to pitch with a lead. The excitement was too much for him, and he gave up back-to-back hits to open the 7th and end his night. David Carpenter came and and got out of the inning unscathed. Jordan Walden pitched a perfect 8th and Craig Kimbrel a perfect 9th. That is how you win ballgames.
Other Braves items of note:
- Evan Gattis’s mystery illness is a kidney stone. He apparently had strep throat and then developed the kidney stone. Weird. That man gets the strangest illnesses.
- Tonight was Tom Glavine bobblehead night. Most of the time, bobbleheads look somewhat like the person they are representing. Glavine’s…not so much.
- Craig Kimbrel was presented with the Braves Roberto Clemente Award before the game. It was nice to see him alive and breathing, since it had been awhile. It was even nicer to see him in the game in a save situation.
- Andrelton Simmons took a big swing in the 3rd inning, fell down, and ended up leaving the game. It’s painful to watch him play right now, since it is so obvious he is in pain. Once the Braves are officially mathematically eliminated, maybe Fredi will sit him more.
So, is there hope? A small ray of light piercing the gloom? For this season, no. Mathematically, the Braves are still “in”, but even the world’s biggest optimist would have to come to grips with reality at this point. However, in the midst of speculating on who loses his job this winter and how many changes will be made, consider this: the Gnats looked good on paper last year but had a rotten season. This year they’re one of the better teams in the league. The AL Wild Card game last year was played between the Rangers and Rays—neither of which will get close to the playoffs this year, and one has the league’s worst record. The Red Sox, of course, were World Champs last year and were so far out of it by July this year they became sellers at the trading deadline. The Angels finished six games under .500 last year, but this year have clinched a playoff spot and are currently 37 games over. The Giants were 10 games under last year and 16 over this year with a large lead in the Wild Card race… I think you get the point. So, just because this year didn’t work out, and we are all left scratching our heads wonder what in the heck went wrong with this offense, remember that 2015 is a new season and anything can happen. This is baseball, after all.
Natspo(s) delenda est in October. Take it away, the NL contenders.
(I’d also like to apologize to my fellow recappers for hogging all of the wins this month. I’d love to share…maybe the Braves can help me out with that this week?)