Braves come out on top on crazy afternoon in Philadelphia

Well, that was quite a game. In a crazy, back-and-forth game where things looked bleak at least three different times, Atlanta pulled out an 8-7, 11-inning victory that kept them a game-and-a-half back in the race for the NL East.

It seemed to be a clear, blue day when the game started out. The box score has it at 70 degrees and partly cloudy at first pitch. Chip and Jeff were commenting on what a fantastic day it was weather-wise. And yes, the fact that I’m mentioning this might serve as foreshadowing of some sort.

The Braves jumped out to a 2-0 lead before Philadelphia came to the plate. Travis d’Arnaud doubled home Michael Harris on a routine fly ball that Phillies center fielder Brandon Marsh somehow tracked all the way back to the warning track and then lost. Matt Olson then followed with a sharp liner down the right-field line to collect a more standard-issue double, scoring d’Arnaud.

However, Charlie Morton was not fantastic this afternoon. He wound up allowing six runs on six hits and three walks over 4.2 innings. In the first, he allowed a leadoff homer to Kyle Schwarber that kissed the outside of the right-field foul pole. He then allowed three straight baserunners after that, with a Rhys Hoskins double, a Bryce Harper walk and an Alec Bohm single to drive home the tying run. An RBI fielder’s choice followed to give Philly a 3-2 lead.

The Braves tied the game on a two-out RBI single from Dansby Swanson in the second, but Schwarber untied it again with another homer in the third. Dansby continued to keep the Braves afloat in this opening half of the game, bombing another two-out hit in the top of the fourth, this one a two-run homer to straightaway center. That gave Atlanta a 5-4 lead. Morton had a rare uneventful fourth and the Braves maintained their one-run advantage into the bottom of the fifth.

It was at this point that something started to go seriously wrong with the previously idyllic weather in Philly. As the bottom of the fifth started, the broadcast began to show images of giant gust fronts blowing in and downtown Philadelphia getting consumed by angry-looking storm clouds. Getting the game to official status seemed to be an imperative (at least for Chip) until you stopped to remember that all unofficial games now get suspended if they’re unable to be finished. The thing where you have to start the whole game over again is no more. This is a fact which seemed to be lost on Chip and the umpiring crew as the squall bore down on Citizens Bank Park.

Meanwhile, Morton let the first two Philly hitters of the inning aboard and allowed the Phillies to take the lead on back-to-back sacrifice flies from Harper and Bohm. This actually made the game official, as the same principle applies to this as applies to the home team taking the lead in the ninth or extra innings. This was a fact that also seemed lost on Chip and the umpiring crew. The fact that it was lost on Chip was merely bemusing if you were listening to him. The fact that it was lost on the umpires (at least the crew chief) proved more problematic. The storm finally arrived with the game official, and yet the umpires did not take the players off the field. The prodigiously bearded Marsh was at the plate at the time, and Francoeur cracked a joke that he looked like Tom Hanks in “Cast Away” as the wind-swept rain swirled around the field. It was absolutely ridiculous. The umpires eventually had enough with two strikes and two outs and called the grounds crew onto the field, but one wondered about the condition of the field by the time they got the tarp on.

I continued to wonder about this as reports came in that it had stopped raining but the tarp was still on the field, and I then saw this tweet from Mark Bowman:

If they had called the game at this point because the field was unplayable, you’d have found me channeling Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey (at the end of a game I watched during the rain delay):

Thankfully, they did get the field back in order and restarted the game after an over two-hour rain delay. Immediately after the restart, Marsh doubled but the Braves threw out Jean Segura at the plate for the final out of the inning. The replay made the call seem like a break for the Braves, but I guess they didn’t see enough evidence to overturn it.

The 6-5 Philadelphia lead held until the eighth inning. With two outs and nobody on, William Contreras walked and Eddie Rosario doubled against Philly right-hander David Robertson. The Braves pinch-hit the suddenly healthy Ronald Acuna for Vaughn Grissom. Leaving whatever’s going on with Acuna aside (this recap is already running too long), I thought this was a nifty move by Brian Snitker, as it forced Robertson to either face Acuna or the left-handed switch-hitter Robbie Grossman. They elected to walk Acuna and, though the Grossman AB didn’t work out, the Braves got a gift run on a wild pitch to tie the game.

So it stayed going into extra innings. The Braves elicited the sad trombone sound effect in the top of the 10th, scoring nothing. Obviously, this did not bode well. However, enter the inimitable Jackson Stephens, the rare reliever who deserved every bit of the win he was awarded. He intentionally walked Harper to set up the double play to start the 10th, then struck out Bohm, got Jean Segura to ground into a force out, and induced a looping liner to left that Rosario ran down to keep the game alive.

The Braves finally broke through in the 11th. Acuna lined a single to center to score Manfred Man Guillermo Heredia (who pinch-ran for Contreras). The rally continued, as Dansby singled Ronald to third and Harris followed with an opposite-field hit, driving home the all-important follow-up run.

Much to everyone’s surprise, Jackson Stephens came back out for the 11th and proceeded to gas Bryson Stott, get Matt Vierling to harmlessly ground out and rack up two strikes on JT Realmuto. He caught two much of the plate with an 0-2 pitch to Realmuto, who singled home the Manfred Man, but no matter. Stephens closed out probably his best outing of the year by blowing away pinch-hitter Nick Maton to finish off the marathon win.

Maintaining the game-and-a-half deficit seems like it was essential to our division title chances heading into the final full week of the season. We head to Washington for three before going home to host the Mets next weekend. The Mets fly all the way home from Oakland to take on Miami in a short two-game series before heading south.

47 thoughts on “Braves come out on top on crazy afternoon in Philadelphia”

  1. ESPN had the Phillies feed and their announcing team and they were just as clueless. Segura and Marsh must have understood since they didn’t give themselves up to make the game “official”.

  2. Got a question… right now, it looks like Friday will see the worst of Hurricane Ian in Atlanta. If the game is postponed to a double-header on Sat or Sun, what is happening to the Friday tickets? Are those automatically transferred to the “double-header-game”? Thanks!

  3. I’m coming around to the view that Harris is our team MVP. I think he’s been our single most valuable player, even allowing for the fact that he didn’t break camp with the squad.

  4. @4 It’s not coincidental that the Braves funk ended when Harris was called up (and to a lesser extent when Strider was moved to the rotation).

  5. #2
    My Guess: If Friday’s game gets rained out & the weather allows for a doubleheader one of the next 2 days, your Friday ticket will get you into Game 1 of a day/night doubleheader.

    And they’d do their very best to get at least one game completed on Saturday, as there are no more off-days.

  6. Okay, this is cool. Per DOB:

    Charlie Morton was hardly in any mood to celebrate it, but when he got his fourth strikeout Sunday, it made this his fourth 200-strikeout season and gave the Braves their first 200-strikeout duo in baseball’s modern era since 1900…

    But before Morton and Strider did it, the last duo in franchise history to have 200 strikeouts in the same season was Charles “Old Hoss” Radbourn and Bill Stemmyer with the 1886 Boston Beaneaters, when the sport barely resembled today’s in terms of pitching.

    Stemmyer had 239 strikeouts in 348 2/3 innings that season, while Radbourn had 218 strikeouts in 509 1/3 innings.

  7. 509 innings?! Throwing overhand? Would love to see one of these games re-enacted. Some of those older rules are quite funny.

  8. @9, it does appear they were throwing overhand, but only by a couple of years; 1884 looks like the year they lifted restrictions on that.

  9. Maddux has 204 strikeouts in 1998. If Smoltz had been healthy that year we could have had another 200 strikeout duo.

    As a consolation, the Braves had 5 pitchers with 150+ strikeouts in 1998. They are the only team ever to accomplish that feat.

  10. I wonder what MLB would do if it turns out that we can’t play baseball in Atlanta this weekend due to weather. They didn’t leave any room at all in the schedule. You’d have to either move the series to a neutral site (huge loss for the Braves), or try to play a game Thursday since both teams have the day off and aren’t traveling all that far. Not ideal. Hoping it doesn’t come to that. Looks like we’ll be able to play a double-header Sunday if needed, but Fri/Sat are questionable for sure.

  11. If they can’t play any games this weekend, yes, it’s a potential scheduling disaster. Any Thursday make-up games would be a nightmare for the losing team, which would have to host the WC series the very next day.

    But why a neutral site? Any Thursday make-up game(s) would be in Atlanta.

    Also, keep in mind that if they play any games in ATL this wknd and the Mets win just one of them, the Mets win the season tie-breaker. So, they won’t play any make-up games on Thursday if the best the Braves can do is tie for 1st.

    It would be pretty crazy, though, if the Braves win 2 vs. NYM, get one rained out & they’re in a flat-footed tie with the Mets (or are 1 game up) come Thursday…

  12. @15

    In all seriousness, nowadays I own several large vacation rentals in evacuation areas very close to the beach. I’m, uhh, I’m a feeling a little stressed right now.

  13. @14, to clarify, I meant play one game early this Thursday if it would help us guarantee we get 3 games in this week.

  14. #19
    Not sure that’s ever happened before, but it might make some sense, given the situation.

    And on that note, certainly glad UGA is playing in Columbia, Mo., this weekend.

  15. MH2 batting cleanup tonight. Ronald is playing. Grissom and Grossman getting the night off, Arcia and Osuna (meh) getting starts. I like it overall. I’d have moved Olson down more but I guess it doesn’t really matter.

  16. Harris will now have started games batting 1st, 2nd, 4th, 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th. This calls for some data dredging…

  17. According to the radio guys there was an Elton John concert Saturday night at the stadium and the Nats had to put down turf and replace a large portion of the outfield grass. It could be treacherous. I don’t think it’s a good idea for Acuna to play in the outfield tonight

  18. I was just about to poor-mouth Olson some more too. That ball was kilt. Rosario’s would’ve been gone at Truist. At least we got a grade-A Chipgasm out of it.

  19. Until the 6th inning, Elder’s outing was one of the most efficient and effective any starter has pitched for Atlanta all year. After loading the bases in the 6th and giving up a walk, he still has only 75 pitches through 6.1 innings.

  20. @23, bRef’s Harris batting order splits table didn’t seem all that interesting – poor results in a combined 19 PA hitting first or second but good in the other spots. .383/.396/.660 hitting sixth, but in only 48 PA.

    What I didn’t like to see were his platoon splits. I thought Chip liked to say that he hit well vs. LHP, but in 125 PA vs. LHP, he’s at .252/.288/.347. That’s a little better than Heredia’s line this year vs. LHP, but well below Heredia’s career line. Hope it’s just a small sample size.

  21. Great job Bryce! What a time to throw a complete game shutout. The bullpen should buy you dinner all week!

  22. I want a game like this to recap Wednesday.

    What is the secret on the call ups. Is Bryce Elder making a jump? Plug and play the AA way!!!!

  23. To be fair, he wasn’t exactly facing Murderers’ Row.

    But hats off to Bryce! A shutout is a shutout!

  24. @33: I was looking at how many positions a batter can bat from playing 107 games or less.

    I got some interesting stuff, but I’m going to save it for an off-day post on Thursday.

    But FYI: Dansby batted in all 9 positions last year (though he played 183 games, counting the playoffs)

  25. Would you guys rather play the Nats or the Marlins? I think I would rather play the Nats, but any advantage we have over the next 2 games is taken away by the Mets having the home field advantage against Miami. It would be nice to go into the weekend series tied.

  26. The Marlins are a substantially better team than the Nats… Marlins have a number of good (or at least high-ceiling) starting pitchers, including Alcantara who is a legit top of rotation guy. The Nationals have, uh, a lot of opportunities for improvement across their roster. And a cluster of highly regarded prospects like Abrams and Ruiz who haven’t really started producing much yet.

    Frankly I think I’d rather play the Nats in Washington than the Marlins in Atlanta.

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