Ed. note: For those of you with heart conditions, or who are with young and impressionable children, we ask that you turn around in your seats.
August 28th, versus the Yankees.
The Best Pitcher of the Night
He didnâ€™t do much this seasonâ€”in fact, he may have pitched his way off the continentÂ for a few yearsâ€”but on August 28th, Sugar Ray Marimon played like a real big leaguer when the club needed somebody to step up. Inheriting an ugly game in the 6th inning, his mission was two-fold: keep the big deficit from getting embarrassing, and stay effective enough to eat up a couple of innings on a bullpen-heavy night. Sugar Ray more than delivered, erasing a lead-off walk with a double-play, and retiring the next 4 batters he faced without incident. He might have thrown a third frame, but our Dear, Departed Andrelton Simmons roped a 2-out double in the bottom of the seventh to bring on a pinch hitter. Michael Bourn struck out looking at three pitches, prompting Sugar Ray to mutter, â€œHey, I couldâ€™ve done that,â€ softly into his Korean-Spanish dictionary.
The Worst Pitcher of the Night
A tie between William Perez and William Perez. Whatever it is they have when the game is working for them, they didnâ€™t have it tonight. Two hard-hit outs augured ill for the twins. Shaken despite the favorable outcomes, they pitched around the strike-zone until they absolutely had to throw something to hit, at which point they surrendered a ground-rule double to Chase Headley and a 3-run Didi Gregorius home run. They tried to pull themselves together, but the 2nd inning slipped as quickly as the first. Fredi yanked the chain after they walked the bases loaded. A New York reporter looking for a couple of quotes to add to her game story found one of the Williams lingering in the clubhouse. She asked him how it felt to be out there knowing he didnâ€™t have his best stuff. â€œI was beside myself,â€ Perez answered.
The Second-Best Pitcher of the Night
Matt Marksberry was that rare creature in 2015: the reliever who kept his job. Frankly, Iâ€™m not sure what they see in the kid. The Big Club called him up in late July, and he pitched 31 times in the last two months, and he wasnâ€™t much good for any of it. While he never saw his ERA balloon over 7, it was only rarely under 5. He struck out a good-enough 8 batters per 9 innings, but walked a ghastly 6 per. It was probably a case of good timing: no one on the Never-Say-Live Braves really cared at that point, and itâ€™s not like he really stood out much from his peers. Well, in the 5th inning he walked New Yorkâ€™s pitcher right off the bat, but he didnâ€™t let the Yankees cash it in, thereby lowering his season ERA to 5.14.
The Second-Worst Pitcher of the Night
The outlook was, if anything, worse entering the 8th inning than it was at the end of the 2nd. No one can deny, however, that the bullpen had performed admirably, keeping the Yanks off the board in the 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th innings. The game wasnâ€™t really in play anymore, but a bit of dignity was, and dignity is no small thing to come by in a long, losing season. Having the last hopes of the team on his shoulders proved just too much for poor Andrew McKirahan to bear. The Yankees were on him from the word go as Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann, Headley, and Gregorius hit him hard. He didnâ€™t walk anybody, and he got three outs like he was supposed to, but four more Yankees crossed the plate. None of the runs were cheapies. I donâ€™t think itâ€™s entirely a coincidence that the team would go on to lose its next 9 games.
The Third-Best Pitcher of the Night
Ross Detwiler couldn’t stick the landing in the 2nd, but he came awfully close. Pressed into emergency mop-up duty with the bases juiced and two away, he threw like he needed another warm-up pitch or two. He walked Gregory Bird to score a run. He walked Chase Headley to score a run. Next Didi Gregorius dribbled a seeing-eye single between Adonis and Andrelton to score McCann from third and set up Detwiler for theâ€”honestly, if there were only one out, I think heâ€™d have done it. But with 2 outs, Bird out at second was moving with the pitch, and he beat Swisherâ€™s throw easily. The elusive Triple Grybo thus slipped away from our man Detwiler. He followed this nonsense up with 2 scoreless innings, so on the whole he was only half bad. Give â€˜im a butt slap, fellas. Good work.
The Third-Worst Pitcher of the Night
By late August, it was no longer unusual to see a Braves pitcher make his major league debut. The established protocol was for the young man in question to shuffle up to the mound like it was his 9th-grade homecoming date, throw some strikes for the span of a batter or three, and thank his maker when Fredi came out for him before things got too real. All of that was turned on its head in the ninth inning when the aforementioned â€˜young man in questionâ€™ proved to be the snarling, wild-eyed, fearless, punchless, gritty mascot of the Braves, Jonny Gomes, who spent the inning making a travesty of his reputation as a guy who always plays the game the right way. I’Â€Â™m not sure to this day what he was doing out there. The Braves didn’t play on the 27th. Peter Moylan, Edwin Jackson, and Arodys Vizcaino were all technically available. I think what we saw was either a badly thought through attempt to raise team morale or a subtle protest aimed at the front office. Whatever moved Frediâ€™s hand, Gomes looked like a cartoon up there hemming and hawing and snorting and generally throwing a fit while he threw batting practice. He didnâ€™t get away with any pitches, but he got three outs to end the game as the undisputed Third-Worst Pitcher of the Night, which says a lot less about Jonny Gomes than it says about his teammates. If any of you need to stay up really late tonight, click “Play.” You will not sleep.