Another great win:  Kyle Wright turned in another impressive start (six innings, two runs, seven k’s); Austin Riley blasted a three run homer to put the Braves up 3-0 in the third; after the Stros cut the lead to 3-2 in the fifth, Dansby Swanson in the sixth smacked a two run double off the right center field fence to push the lead back to three; Olson drove in a sixth run with a sac fly; Colin McHugh pitched a perfect seventh and eighth; and Kenly Jansen closed it out with a scoreless ninth for the 6-2 win.

Much to be encouraged about.  Our deep lineup had twelve hits, three by Swanson, and two each by Ronald, Riley, and Rosario. Top of my list is that Wright looked strong after missing a turn due to a “tired arm.”  I was afraid that might be a euphemism for something worse, but sometimes a tired arm is just a tired arm.  The rest did him good.  Kyle faced only one over the minimum through the first four, then ran into trouble in the fifth, with a leadoff homer followed by three singles.  But he struck out Alvarez with two on to preserve the lead.  Most encouraging of all was that he came back for the sixth and got them 1-2-3.  He’s really learned to pitch through adversity.

The Braves have the best bullpen in MLB.  The back end guys get most of the attention, but McHugh is quietly turning in an outstanding season, especially given his ability to work multiple innings. 

The 2015 draft showed well in this one.  Five of the Braves’ six runs were driven in by members of that class; Riley was number 41 that year and of course Dansby was number 1 overall.  The Astros had only three XBH’s, a double and homer by Preston Tucker’s little brother (he was number 5) and a double by Bregman (number 2, right behind Swanson).  The Astros pair are excellent, but I’ll take our two from that year, and also hope that Mike Soroka (number 28) will return to excellence.

  *    *   *

Yesterday was the fortieth anniversary of the infamous Pascual Perez I-285 game (for those who haven’t heard or don’t remember, see The night Pascual Perez got lost — and found a spot in Braves history (  People remember the goofy story of Perez driving around and around and missing the start.  I was there that night, and what I remember was not knowing what had happened to the announced starter Perez (no iPhone, MLB app, or twitter) when I saw Niekro warming up in the bullpen.  With only about 30 minutes notice, Knucksie started the game on short rest, and went seven innings and surrendered only three hits.  Two of those hits were two run homers by Carter and Wallach, but the Braves took a 5-4 lead in the bottom of the seventh to give the team and Niekro a win.  Knucksie will always be my favorite pitcher.  That game also turned the season around.  They had just lost 19 out of 21, losing 13 games in the standings going from a 9 game lead to a 4 game deficit.  After this fateful game, they won 13 of 15 to retake the lead and go on to win the division by one game.  And Perez managed to get to the park on time from that point on and pitched very well down the stretch.

My wife and I were there that August 19 night.  It was the day before our fifth wedding anniversary.  She was not a baseball fan then, but she loved me, so she indulged me.  I’m pleased to say she still loves me—and she’s also become quite the fan after 45 years of our partnership.  Even on those rare occasions that we’re apart during a game, she watches the game.  And she tolerates me doing recaps on Friday games.  I’m truly blessed.  Thank you for everything, and happy anniversary, sweetheart.

  *   *   *

The Braves will try to make it 11 of the last 12 behind Aragorn Saturday night.  Y’all will have to pull them through without me; I love the Braves, but we will be out for an anniversary dinner.