So last week I shelved my 1966 reminiscence to dwell on what I hope we will agree, in retrospect years hence, to have been the low point of the 2018 season. Since then, it has all been just ducky. My shelved retrospective was of Wednesday September 14th, when the Braves won a tight game 3-1 game in 10 innings in Wrigley Field before 961 (!!) fans. I closed my remarks with “This is the kind of game good teams win. They beat bad teams in close games.” That game capped a stretch of 8 straight wins. From September 5th-September 22nd the Braves were 14-1. A team that was languishing below .500 was suddenly 82-71. Since this was before divisional play, they were still out of contention for the World Series, but they were suddenly a team you could be optimistic about.
On the 14th, Dick Kelley walked in a run in the 4th and Hank Aaron knocked in Felipe Alou on a fielder’s choice in the 6th, his 113th RBI of the season. A couple of unearned runs in the 10th gave the Braves the win.
That was not so different from September 12th 2018. The Giants scored first on a day that Anibal Sanchez didn’t have his best control, but excellent defensive play got him out of jam after jam. (Defense also rescued Biddle in the 8th after he committed a stupid error.) The Braves tied it up in the 6th when Freddie Freeman singled in Ozzie Albies through the shift. Both teams had numerous wasted opportunities, including the top of the 7th when the Braves loaded the bases with no outs to no avail. To be fair, it is slightly inaccurate to say the Braves had loaded the bases with no outs, since their next batter was Adam Duvall. It is perhaps fairer to say they failed to score with the bases loaded and one out.
In the 9th, Culberson, subbing for the groin-tweaked Camargo, found himself at 3rd with two outs and Tyler Flowers pinch hitting. Flowers was thrown out by Evan Longoria but the 1st base ump ruled that Brandon Belt had come off the bag early. He hadn’t, but replay couldn’t prove it, so the winning run came via Chelsea Piers in NYC. I am still not entirely certain what MLB thinks it’s up to with replay, but it now just seems like a random element thrown into games. Those who thought that MLB has it in for the Braves need to consult this game to show that it really is just random. This is the kind of game good teams win. They beat bad teams in close games.
The Giants have now lost 11 in a row and do not look like a major league team. I find it hard to hate the Giants. They beat the truly hated Dodgers to send the Braves to the playoffs one year and will forever be the only team to win 100 games and not make the playoffs, again at the hands of the Braves. I was a little miffed when they swept the Braves in Atlanta this year, and Posey was out and all, but they’ve made up for a lot of that in the last three days.
The Natinals are on the verge of catching the Phillies. Some of you are worried about them. I’m not — yet. And even if they pass them, I’d rather have only three games with the team chasing you than seven.
Finally, this game was my third of the year on Facebook. Maybe the fact that I watch the vast majority of my games on MLB.TV (which runs only four different ads a game such that my teeth begin to grind in frustration) colors my opinion, but the complete lack of commercials in these games makes up even for Jason Marquis‘ Staten Island-inflected monotone. Others complain of freezing or other technical glitches. I had none, and I find the games refreshingly laid back in announcer’s tone. And they don’t let Chip do the games, which is a major plus.