Charlie’s Team 10, gNats 1

Charlie “Clutch” Culberson has won many games for the Braves over the past couple of seasons.  On Saturday, the Braves won one for Charlie.  The Braves broke open a tight 1-1 game in the top of the 7th with 4 runs to take a 5-1 lead.  They scored two more in the 8th, three more in the 9th, and cruised to a 10-1 victory.

The top of the 7th was one of the more memorable and momentous innings of the season, but not primarily because of the runs scored.  Charlie Culberson was hit in the face by a fastball.  It was one of the more horrifying sights I’ve ever seen on a baseball field. As I write this, there is no word on the extent of his injuries, but it is obviously very serious.  It was certainly sickening to see.

Here’s what went down in the 7th:   With the score tied, Wander Suero walked the first two hitters, McCann and then Swanson .  Hamilton pinch ran for McCann, and Culberson was called upon to bunt the runners over.  The first pitch was a fastball up and in headed straight for Charlie’s face.  Culberson was leaning over to bunt, but didn’t have time to get away from the pitch—and it hit him square on the cheek.

As Charlie was lying in the batter’s box and being attended to by the training staff, Snitker started arguing with the Umps.  I couldn’t figure out what that was about, until Chip told us that the umpire called the pitch a strike.  Evidently, the call was that Charlie offered at the ball.

I couldn’t tell everything Snit was saying, but “Bullshit” and “Shame on you” were among the words we could make out.  Snit got ejected, but stuck around for a while letting the umps hear from him.

At that point the floodgates opened for the Braves offense, which had been dormant up until then.  Acuña doubled home two, Ozzie (who had 3 hits for the second night in a row) followed with a double of his own, Markakis (who had  4 hits in his second game back, casting grave doubt on the utility of rehab games) added a run scoring single, and the rout was on.

Foltynewicz was terrific.  He went 6 innings, giving up one run on 4 hits with 5 strikeouts and only one walk.  After allowing a run in the first on a leadoff walk by Turner and a double by Rendon (uh-oh—here we go, I thought), he shut the Nats down, and retired the last 11 he faced.  The Folty we’ve seen since he was recalled from Gwinnett would be fine in a postseason rotation.  He’s been throwing the two seamer much more, getting great movement, and his slider has been excellent.  

As to the Braves offense through the first 5, AAR said it well: “This feels like a vintage Braves performance where the bats fall asleep against an anonymous mediocre NL East rookie. We used to do this against crappy Phillies farmhands every year.”  That anonymous mediocre rookie shut the Braves out through 5, although bad baserunning and bad luck contributed greatly.  In the 6th, however, they tied it up on singles by Albies, Donaldson, and Markakis.  That led to the fateful 7th.

After the Braves took the lead in the top of the 7th, they got shutout innings from Newcomb, Jackson, and Tomlin, respectively.

One piece of good injury news on a dark injury day: Freddie Franchise was back in the lineup, after leaving the night before with a sore elbow.

Chippisms of the day:

–Chip believes every out that advances a runner from second to third is a “productive out.”  It’s not always a productive out when you advance a runner to third.  It’s almost never the case when you do so with one out.  In the first, Rendon was on second with one out.  Soto hit a deep fly to center that advanced Rendon to third.  Chip called that a productive out.  It was only “productive” if you are a Braves fan.  It was a great thing to keep Soto, one of their two best hitters, from getting a hit, and leaving Cabrera at the plate with two outs.  Folty struck him out to get out of the inning.

–Several times a game, Chip says “the Braves have the right guys up at the right time.”  He says that whenever Albies or Acuna lead off an inning.  Today it was the top of the 4th with Ozzie leading off.  He said it again in the top of the 6th, with RAJ leading off. But isn’t it always a good thing when they come up, knowing that Freeman and Donaldson will follow?  When is it not a good time for them to come up?

But enough Chip-bashing.  All is forgiven.  Chip was all over the umpire for missing the call when Culberson got hit, and I really appreciate that.  Unlike Simpson in the Infield Fly Game, Chip is on our side, and reacted with appropriate outrage at the call.  The call was outrageously bad, and our guy had been carried off the field.  Anger was appropriate.  Good for you, Chip.

The lead is 10 and a half, and the magic number is down to 4.  When it has mattered the most this month, the Braves have taken 5 of 6 from the Nats.  Fried faces Sanchez in the series finale, and final game this season against the Nats, on Sunday.

 *  *  *

On this date in 1978, Jim Bouton was the winning pitcher in the Braves’ 4-1 victory over the Giants.  That was the 39 year old Bouton’s only win that season.  In fact, it was his first and only win after 1970, when he had retired from the game.

The Bouton comeback with the Braves in 1978 is one of the more interesting episodes of Braves history.  Bouton is one of the most fascinating–and important–people in baseball history.  If you’re not especially familiar with Bouton, I recommend his bio on the SABR website:  (The bios on this site are generally excellent.)

The 1978 season, in which Bouton made that unlikeliest of comebacks, stands out as particularly significant among my 55 years of obsession over the Braves.  It’s not because that team was good. The late 70’s was perhaps the worst stretch in franchise history.  You think the 3 years from 2015-17 were bad?  Check out these 5 year win totals from 1975-1979: 67, 70, 61, 69, 66.  (The “perhaps” in the sentence above is needed because 1985-1990 may have been worse.  Win totals: 66, 72, 69, 54, 63, 65. Would you rather smell a dead skunk or raw sewage?)

I wrote a few weeks ago about my wife’s patience with my doing Saturday recaps.  Even her Job-like patience has limits, though, so I was relieved for today’s 4:00 start.

We got married in August of 1977, and the 1978 season was the first full season that my wife had to experience with me.  She knew next to nothing about baseball, but she loved me, and we watched most of the games on Channel 17.  The team was interesting: two 20 year olds, Bob Horner and Glenn Hubbard, made their major league debuts, and Dale Murphy was starting to show his potential.  At age 39, Phil Niekro had a typical year for him, which was terrific: 42 starts, 2.88 ERA, 19-18 record.  Larry McWilliams had a very good rookie season on the mound. Still, in retrospect, it is odd that we found some excitement in such a miserable team.

Forty-two years later, she’s still watching with me.  At this point I don’t think she’s doing so out of starry eyed young love; she’s only watching because she is interested herself. This year’s team is the most appealing—and fun–of any we have followed together. We’re both looking forward to October baseball.

Author: tfloyd

Tfloyd was born on the site of Atlanta Fulton County Stadium. Before the stadium was built, that is; it was then the site of Piedmont Hospital. It took the Braves another 11 years to arrive on what is now Hank Aaron Drive, but I‘ve always liked to arrive at the ballpark early.

63 thoughts on “Charlie’s Team 10, gNats 1”

  1. Beautifully done, man. Sitting in the stadium watching him not move was agonizing.

    Mazel tov and congratulations to you both on this PLAYOFF BOUND TEAM – we clinched our berth for October baseball and in a couple days we’ll clinch the division.

  2. I read what the HP ump said after the game (Tim Timmons). He said they only reviewed the call after Dave Martinez asked them to. And 1st base ump, Bill Welke said he offered. More specifically, Timmons said he had only been concerned for Culby and didn’t see it. So Martinez was a real jerk and the gNats deserved every bit of the beat down they got. I’m not sure this won’t be a karma crushing event for the gNats. Welke could use a karma beatdown too.

  3. @2 Snitker was absolutely right and his reaction was perfect. He is a great guy to have as a manager for our team.

  4. I didn’t see the game, or had a chance to see hat went down with Culby. Hope he’s okay. That’s a scary thing.

    For anyone who saw it, was Culby squared around, and Rodney just had one get away? Or was Culby squared around and Rodney went up and in on him with intent to back him off?

    And to touch on something on the twitter pop ups that Bowman brought up about Dave Martinez, what kind of human being requests to know if that was a strike!? You see so much about Martinez being a “good guy”, and maybe he is? Do you sell your principals for a glimmer of a chance to win a game, and make a desperate bid for a playoff spot though?

    Washington is a classless, trash organization, which I despise every bit as much as Miami. That’s not just something I feel based on today, either.

  5. Thank you Mr. Floyd.

    I enjoyed the 82 team more, They represented a false hope of a run.

    But otherwise, yes this one is more fun.

  6. Thank you for the thoughtful recap, tfloyd. Gutted over what’s happened to Charlie, and I hope his long term health isn’t impacted.

  7. @6 whether it was asking for the appeal, or leaving Rodney out there when he was pretty clearly shaken, it is clear that the Nats flat out quit after that. Whether this has longer term ramifications, only time will tell, but something very bad is brewing in htat clubhouse.

  8. JC’d

    The line of the game…

    2nd base…top 7th…

    Cabrera to BMac, gripping his shirt as, finally, Billy Hamilton comes into view…

    ‘No. You’re not leaving. We need you to stay here.’

  9. Great recap, tfloyd, how you manage your wife in such times of stress is commendable, you both.

    When we have recaps in essentially two parts yours is the pioneer I believe in putting the recap where it belongs, first, then the great trips down memory lane etc second, to close everything out in a nice balance.

    Nothing should preempt the recap – it is the raw guts of the evening battle still so fresh in our minds but through an other’s pair of eyes. Thank you again for tonight’s demonstration of how it should be done.

  10. Are we now able to accept just how good Markakis has been at the plate, the consistent hard contact, the hits and the runs driven in?

    Some are finding that more difficult to swallow than others we might assume.

    In the field of human conflict never have so many been so wrong about so few. WSC, with apologies.

  11. @2. To be very honest Smitty, I like Snit way more than Bobby. Snit is much more flexible in his style and strategy.

  12. Thanks for the wonderful recap, tfloyd. And good for you and your wife.

    Let’s hope Charlie is okay.
    A lot of the Braves and Nats players seem to like each other quite a lot, it seems, watching them on the field. Rendon is a great guy. Gotta feel bad for Rodney, too, he was clearly shaken.

    We clinched! What a season, what a team.
    Go Braves,

  13. Thanks for the wonderful recap, tfloyd. And good for you and your wife.

    Let’s hope Charlie is okay.
    A lot of the Braves and Nats players seem to like each other quite a lot, it seems, watching them on the field. Rendon is a great guy. Gotta feel bad for Rodney, too, he was clearly shaken.

    We clinched! What a season, what a team.
    Go Braves.

  14. @6–yes, the bad call was Welke. He violated a cardinal rule of umpiring: he called something he didn’t see. He was guessing. We know he couldn’t have seen Charlie square around because Charlie plainly didn’t square around.

  15. I phrased it wrong above. Of course Charlie squared around. What he didn’t do—and what is necessary for the pitch to be a strike—is to offer at the pitch as it is coming his way.

  16. DOB tweeted that Charlie has a fractured cheekbone. If you look down the chain, someone else posted that Charlie’s wife said there are “no injuries to eye, nose, or teeth thank goodness”. I find that somewhat hard to believe with all the bloodiness talked about. He may also have a broken nose or at least a deviated septum.

    But it sounds like the ball may have hit lower than we may have thought which would be a good thing. Above the jaw but below the orbital bones. Sounds to me like the perfect placement for the least damage…. considering….. I hope.

  17. At this point, the physical healing is one thing. It’s also going to be important to make sure he has a chance to see a sports psychologist and ensure that he doesn’t lose any of his aggressiveness or confidence in the box. What makes him so clutch is his confidence and calmness in high-pressure situations, and he may just need to do some mental rehab along with the physical rehab to get comfortable again in the box.

    Baseball America gave out some year-end honors at various Minor League levels, what they call their Classification All-Stars. Bryse Wilson, Ian Anderson, Tucker Davidson, and a 22-year-old in rookie ball named Bryce Ball all got nods.

  18. From the sidebar beat writers, Charlie’s injuries are less than I would have imagined. Getting hit in the face with a major league fastball wow: good luck, Charlie. Heal quickly and hurry back.

  19. @22 Seconded. Charlie seems to uniquely benefit from a mental advantage. An event like this could really hurt that more than other players.

    Between Martinez and Welke, they’re both wrong. No issues with Timmons. But Martinez didn’t have to appeal, but he did. Welke didn’t have to ring him up, but he did. Martinez shouldn’t have done what he did for respectful reasons, and Welke shouldn’t have rung him up since I don’t think he could have known.

    It was an unfortunate situation for everyone though. Martinez and Welke are both trying to do their jobs so I can’t fault them too much. I don’t think either had any ill-will towards the Braves or Charlie. It just sucks.

  20. We need Camargo back before the playoffs more than ever.





    Blevins (he’s gotta be a lock at this point, right? He’s killing lefties)

    No Hech, Dayton, Duvall, or Hamilton.

  21. @ #26

    Martinez had a choice. One could argue that he had a job to do by demonstrating good sportsmanship. Very bad form. In the end, it’s just a game.

  22. @26 @28 GNats pre-game is piling on. Bo Porter throwing the fault over to Timmons at HP. Said Timmons should have asked 1B ump on his own and never should have “said” Martinez asked him to. Martinez quoted saying he had an obligation to try and win the game and put his team in the best position to win. He also said “the last thing I want to be is a jackass”. I think he managed to be one.

    That all being in addition to the fact that Welke was wrong to begin with.

  23. Seems like Culberson missed a serious injury in his eye area, which is great news. Hopefully he will be physically healthy for next March and won’t have any mental fears after this.

  24. 27 — I hope you’re right, but I have doubts that Camargo will be healed until about 4-6 weeks after his injury. I would replace him on the roster with Hech.

    Also, I think Duvall makes it over Riley, though Riley’s ability to play third base becomes more important now with both Camargo and Culberson out.

  25. @27–we do need Camargo, but my understanding is that with the broken bone there is no chance he is ready to play in October. Has there been an update?

  26. @26 That assumes both Ender and Camargo will be back. Without that both Hech and Hamilton are in. I also think Duvall comes before Riley unless we really believe that Riley will 100% hit better. Minus Ender/Camargo/Culby leaves only 15 position players on the 40-man roster. If you take 14 then everyone goes except Riley or Ortega. And Ortega is the only lefty other than Hamilton (S)… If you take only 13 then both Riley and Ortega are out.

    If you take 12 pitchers, you may be right. seems like we should have that third lefty unless you believe O’Day is the equivalent (he does have a historical split though). Blevins does have to be a lock at this point. The last spot has to go to O’Day or Dayton unless they only take 11. Tomlin should have a role but Folty/Teheran fills it.

    I want to see more O’Day and Dayton…..

  27. I think Hamilton also makes it over Cervelli, who has gotten buried on the bench despite his hot start.

  28. If either Culby or Camargo ends up on the 60-day, why not call up Pache to be the defense/pinch runner? He’d probably hit better than Hamilton anyway. Pache must be on the 40-man over the winter anyway (eligible for Rule 5).

  29. 37 — It could be a consideration, though Pache is not a good base stealer. They could use another middle infielder.

  30. I hate to even ask this question, but who plays 1B in the event it would be needed with Freddie’s elbow without Culby? Even if Camargo does recover in time for the playoffs, he’s played all of 1 inning at 1st in the Bigs.

    If you’re sliding Donaldson over in a break glass situation, I think it’s increasingly likely Riley is carried on the playoff roster. It’s becoming construction through attrition.

  31. @35 I can’t see Camargo back, unless you’re planning a WS roster. I’m not really for carrying Ortega either, unless it becomes a must. I got…


    If Camargo can go, you of course boot Hech. I’d also swap Duvall in for Riley at that juncture. Without Camargo though this is the only way where I see you can cover the IF

  32. Markakis has played 6 games at first in his career. But let’s hope to God we don’t need to decide that one!

  33. I sure would like a sweep considering but there’s really no downside today. We took the gNats out already. And the magic number is already small. I like giving Walker a shot.

    Today looks like the inevitable emotional letdown after yesterday. I could see Snit emptying the bench after the 5th or so.

  34. @53 See I disagree with that. For starters, height helps. It’s also a different view of the diamond, with different responsibilities. Picking a ball out of the dirt also requires a bit of skill. I think the challenges of the position get undersold a bit.

  35. Just for fun I checked out our opening day roster. Because of injuries our starting pitchers included Kyle Wright and Bryse Wilson. The bullpen is the amazing part. It consisted of:

    If you would have asked me to lay odds on the one least likely to be on a post season roster I would have said Luke Jackson without hesitation. He’s probably the only one that we’ll see on the post season roster.

  36. Culberson out for the year. In all likelihood, Camargo will be out for the first round. Ender is a ?. Braves are really fortunate they have Cervelli and Hech as fallback options. If they didn’t…yikes.

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