Not only was that the kind of win that can provide ignition for your entire season, it was as close to a team win as I’ve ever seen in baseball. The Braves used 19 different players there, and all of them played an enormous role in the outcome. You truly can’t tell the story of that ridiculous baseball game without giving everyone a shoutout.
So instead of the usual format, I am going to recap this game player-by-player; everyone deserves to have their contributions highlighted after a win like that. These are in the order they appeared in the game, starting with Ian Anderson.
Ian Anderson: You can’t ask for much more than he gave you after the first inning. After the Braves fell behind 2-0 it was fair to wonder if this was going to turn into another night like last night’s 12-2 loss, but he grinded hard to get through six innings.
Also let’s not forget the double play he started in the fifth with runners on the corners and nobody out. It’s easy to forget in a game that had approximately a thousand other key moments after it, but that inning had serious potential to be the hammer blow with the Phillies already up 3-0. He held the score right there and set up everything that happened next.
Ronald Acuña Jr.: Alright, the elephant in the room. Ronnie was plunked again tonight for the third time this season and 24th time in his career already. Once again he dodged serious damage with just a lefty pinky contusion, but this has officially reached the point of being an issue. We know pitchers are going to try to jam him, but what do you do about it? Sooner or later if he keeps getting hit at this rate one of them will lead to a major injury.
Freddie Freeman: Our long national nightmare is over. The 2020 NL MVP snapped his 0-for-22 slump with a sixth inning home run. And just for good measure he stung the ball twice in his first two times up and drew two walks his last two times up. He’s not all the way back, but that’s a building block for sure.
Marcell Ozuna: This is going to sound like a stretch, but the walk he drew in the eighth inning was huge. The Braves didn’t score in the inning, but that walk pushed the lineup card one spot further, which meant Adrianza got a chance to hit in the ninth with two outs instead of the game just ending on Cristian Pache’s lineout. Adrianza drew a walk, Panda went boom, and here we are.
Ozzie Albies: It didn’t turn into a run, but the triple in the fourth inning was the first little flicker of life from the offense.He at least did something most Braves have struggled with this season in the 10th inning by moving the Manfred runner over to third with one out. Yes, I am calling it the Manfred runner now. You have a better name?
Austin Riley: The second best plate appearance of the entire game was his leading off the 12th. With the Braves down by three and the air out of the building, he battled to work a 10-pitch walk that brought the tying run to the plate. And not only that, it was a 10-pitch walk after he fell behind 0-2.He fouled off four pitches with two strikes; three fastballs and a slider. And on 3-2 he took a fastball, which to me is another sign of his maturity at the plate. That was a spot where the Braves desperately needed a baserunner in any way possible. Sure, his eyes probably got big when he saw he was getting a 3-2 fastball, but he stayed the course and took a walk instead of hacking.
And while we’re talking about Riley, that was one of four walks he took tonight. Four! In one game! For the player we have all bemoaned for a lack of plate discipline over the last two years! He even added a single for good measure and took that wicked hop line drive in the 12th inning like a champ. He just might have been the player of the game tonight.
Dansby Swanson: I’m not going to sit here and pretend Swanson had a great night; that first pitch pop-out after a four-pitch walk in the fourth inning was terrible on every level and he was 0-for-4 in regulation. But he did keep the line moving in the 12th inning with a single and came around to score the tying run on a ball that did not look like it would plate three runs. Better late than never.
William Contreras: My goodness, that three-run double. That was unquestionably the biggest moment of his young career, and it might stay that way for a while. Be honest: Did you have faith he would come through with a big hit after the night he had at the plate? I definitely didn’t. But by god, he found a way, and his slide into third on Pache’s bunt was absolutely crucial. We might still be playing without his hand getting in there! Shoutout to him for catching 207 pitches from seven different pitchers tonight, too.
Cristian Pache: Speaking of that bunt, it was the perfect time for it. He got it down into a good spot and gave the runner a chance to move up. That’s really all you want in that situation, especially from a struggling young hitter.
Grant Dayton: Top of the seventh, two on and two out for Bryce Harper, Phillies up 3-1. Grant Dayton strikes Harper out with a 2-2 curveball to end the threat. You could easily forget that even happened, but the Phillies had their best hitter at the plate with a chance to put the game out of reach right there and Dayton held the fort.
Ehire Adrianza: He checked into the game as a pinch hitter in the bottom of the seventh and reached base four times. I know everyone wants to talk about him tying the game in the 11th and winning it in the 12th, but I want to discuss that walk in the 9th. Earlier I said Riley’s walk in the 12th was the second best plate appearance of the game; this was the best.
There were two outs and nobody on base with the Braves down 3-1, and at that point the Phillies had a 99.8% win probability. Ninety-nine point eight. 998 times out of 1,000 in that situation, the game is over.
Adrianza fell behind 0-2. He took two splitters, fouled off a fastball and another splitter, then took two more splitters for ball four. That’s six pitches—and only one fastball—he saw with the Braves down to their final strike. None of the extra inning heroics would’ve been possible without this right here.
And I guess while we’re here, he put pressure on Didi Gregorious with a chopper in the 11th that led to the game-tying error, and he did walk it off (again with two strikes) in the 12th. Where would this team be without him?
Josh Tomlin: Alright, he didn’t actually do anything but stand at first base as a pinch runner after Acuña exited. But he saved Brian Snitker a bench bat, and that really mattered later.
Luke Jackson: He’s the most erratic reliever on the roster, but he chose a really good time for a 1-2-3 inning! Maybe we should’ve known there was magic in the air after the unicorn that is a clean Luke Jackson inning appeared before our eyes in the eighth.
Tyler Matzek: Just like Jackson, a 1-2-3 inning when the situation demanded it. The “hold” stat is pretty useless a lot of times, but it definitely mattered in this game.
Pablo Sandoval: The man. The myth. The legend. The Panda. What else is there to say? It’s May 9th and he already has four pinch-hit home runs this season. All of them have been against divisional opponents, all of them have been in the sixth inning or later, all of them have either given the Braves the lead or tied the game, and the Braves went on to win three of those four games. I think a lot of us raised an eyebrow when he was signed as a bench bat, but he has been a major part of this team this season. Long live the panda.
Will Smith: Easily one of his best outings of the season. He got Hoskins-Harper-Realmuto out in order with two runners on base in a tie game in the 10th. The 2-2 slider he threw to strike Hoskins out in particular was vintage Smith. In fact, he got all three of his outs on sliders. Isn’t it a thing of beauty when a pitcher’s best pitch actually performs like his best pitch?
AJ Minter: He did give up the lead on a Nick Maton RBI double, but he also held the fort after that to keep it 4-3. So much of extra innings with the new rules is just about damage control. Sure, the Manfred runner might score, but can you keep a second or third runner from scoring to give your offense a chance? Minter did that with a big out against Scott Kingery.
Max Fried: He came in to bunt, he got the bunt down, and he didn’t slide headfirst into home plate with his pitching hand. A successful outing for Atlanta’s designated starting pitcher pinch hitter.
Jacob Webb: Alright, I know what you’re going to say. Yes, he loaded the bases in the 12th. Yes, he got a tailor-made double play in a comebacker and airmailed the throw home. Yes, he forgot to cover home plate and allowed another run to score, then another one after a hit. If you have a kid who plays in little league who you think could’ve done better on that play, I won’t argue with you. It was one of the worst exhibitions in pitcher fielding I’ve ever seen.
But you know what happened with the Braves down 7-4 and the middle of the lineup still up for the Phillies? He got Alec Bohm to ground into a 6-4-3 double play and Didi Gregorious to ground out.
Because if on some miracle of miracles the Braves went into the bottom of the 12th and scored four times, those runs needed to matter. Scoring four doesn’t help if you’re down five or six, but it can create something pretty special if you’re only down three.
The Braves were only down three thanks to Webb.
What happened next was pretty special.