Itâ€™s Wednesday and the games are starting later â€“ 1:06 instead of 12:10. MLB is still doing its best to make sure I can see the game and still make the Early Bird Special for dinner.
When I last left you, we were all in SSS heaven: leading baseball in runs scored, winning every series, comparing Preston Tucker to Matt Diaz and Ryan Flaherty toâ€¦ well, nobody was really comparing Ryan Flaherty to anybody, but you get the idea. One week later weâ€™re in an orgy of hat-tipping (Iâ€™m not going to dwell on this trope, but it sounds more than a little kinky) weâ€™ve lost our first series, are trying to avoid a sweep, and are planning to DFA Â¼ of the team. So I guess I have to come to the rescue again. I beat Scherzer last week. How hard could this be?
Keeping up my 1966 nostalgia tour, the 12th game in 1966 found the 7-4 Braves losing in the second game to split a Sunday doubleheader with the Mets in the Launching Pad in front of 40,477. HOFers in the game: Aaron, Torre, Mathews, Niekro and the father of a HOFer, Sandy Alomar. Faith Hillâ€™s father-in-law got the win from back when he was a starter. Felipe Alou hit two homers.
The Nats pitched AJ Cole, who came into the game with a 24.55 ERA and a WHIP of 3.5. SSS, Albies gives the Braves their first lead since the Mountain Time Zone with a first inning mammo as the second batter, which actually does trivially increase Coleâ€™s ERA, though by the end of his stint he had lowered it to 12.00. McCarthy gets double plays behind him in the first two innings, but gives up a run on a single by Trea Turner in the 3rd. Suzuki responds with a foul pole shot in the top of the 4th to regain the lead (Noâ€¦ I refuse to call it a â€œfair pole.â€ Just no.) George Washington won the Presidentsâ€™ Race. The bottom of the 4th brought the Braves 3rd DP of the game.
People have criticized Brandon McCarthyâ€™s ability to stay healthy, which seems a little uncharitable for a guy who was almost killed by batted ball. But in the bottom of the 5th he dislocated his glove shoulder fielding a flip from Freddie for the last out. Wikipedia notes he dislocated the same shoulder while weight-lifting last year, leading to a long DL stint. New Head Trainer George C. Poulis popped it back into place on the field, but he came out of the game to be replaced by the other Freeman. Hopefully this will be more like Tony Finau than last yearâ€™s McCarthy.
The bottom of the 6th brought the 4th DP, made even sweeter by the fact that it was a Harper DP. Winkler got in some 2 out trouble in the 7th. He gave up a single to Difo with 2 on but Bourjos threw out Matt Adams at the plate by about 10 feet. Adams is no swifter than he was last year. If Barry Bonds couldâ€™ve made that throw the Pirates would still be celebrating their 1992 World Series win.
Minter for the 8th with Harper due 3rd. K-K-K. Easy peasy.
Arodys in the bottom of the 9th with his first save opportunity of the yearâ€¦ pretty odd for a closer on a 6-5 team. RendÃ²n out on a kick save by VizcaÃnoâ€¦ but then Matt Adams ties it up with a blast to center. Blown save, but I got a chance to use two accented letters. Single, bad pickoff, wild pitch. Ouch. But a groundout leads to free baseball.
Free baseball. Leadoff walk to Ender. K-SB. IBB to Freddie. Neck:K. Double steal. Inciarte steals home! Called out initially. Review calls him out. I donâ€™t think so, but there you are. If we were a really good team this play and the Bourjos slide are the ones you remember.
Actual folk hero Kurt Suzuki with dinger two in the top of the 11th. Bourjos off the schneid with a double. Close but no cigar as the inning ends with runners stranded on 2nd and 3rd again.
Bottom of the 11th. Shane Carle for the save. Harper single to lead off, natch. Goes to second on a groundout by RendÃ²n. Down to the last outâ€¦.. but no. Tied up with a Howie Kendrick double. We go to the 12th. Iâ€™m gonna be too late for the Blue Plate Special. Back to back singles by Oz and Fred off Madson. Neck: BB. Folk hero up â€“ bases loaded and no out. Infield fly â€“ legitimate one. (Still sore about thatâ€¦ just like last week.) Bourjos â€“ two in a row! Two run single! Dansby:K. Braves are out of hitters so Carle hits and â€¦ well, he goes to the plate and doesnâ€™t touch one.
Proving himself incapable of a save, Shane can now go for the win. FO-2. K. Last outâ€¦ again. 6-3.
We wonâ€™t see Harper again until the end of May unless heâ€™s traded to us in return for Bourjos (â€œDefense wins championships and Bourjos has it â€¦plus he outhit Harper in that last game where we saw himâ€). Get it done AA, while Bourjosâ€™ value is high.
OK. Iâ€™ve righted the ship. See you next week.