Not many bright spots for the Braves, but they edged the out Dodgers Sunday night to show they weren't dead yet. Hard for me to do anything but watch, and jot down the following notes from the game.
Good job by Newcomb in the bottom of the second to take four pitches, driving in the first run of the game with a four pitch baes loaded walk. Then Acuna hit his grand slam, breaking Micky Mantle's record as the youngest player in MLB history to hit a grand slam in the playoffs. In the next inning Acuna gave back a run, letting a routine roller get past him. In his next at bat the rookie struck out. Smoltz correctly took Acuna to task. Hopefully next season the kid won't make so many mistakes.
Newcomb walked one of the batters that scored on Acuna's error. So at least two of the first four runs the Braves allowed were gifts.
In the next inning Acuna misjudged Matt Kemp's line drive to his left, allowing it to bounce into the stands for a ground rule double. Kemp advanced to third on a groundout to second. But with the infield in Charlie Culbertson threw out Kemp at the plate. Can't believe the Dodgers didn't ask for a replay: Kemp looked safe.
Smoltz correctly pointed out how Gausman should've known that guy was swinging for the fences. Instead of taking advantage of the knowledge and throwing another pitch in the same location (high and outside) Gausman pitched inside, giving up a two run home run. Earlier he had walked the leadoff batter on four pitches. Then Winkler, perhaps the Braves best reliever, allowed the game-tying home run to Muncie. Luckily Manny Machado's ensuing deep drive was caught by Acuna with a Michael Jordan-like spread legged catch up against the 385 foot sign.
The Dodgers Hernandez: nice stirrups and black shoes, but the buzz cut / mohawk not as much. A bit of a fireplug so often disliked by the fans of opposing teams.
The Braves walked more batters than any other team this year. The Dodgers walked more times than any other team. After the fielder's choice in the sixth, Tuki walked two batters to load the bases. Finally Tuki ended the inning with a strikeout. Freddie Freeman slugged the first Alex Wood pitch In the bottom of the inning into the Chop House for the go ahead run.
In the eighth after Suzuki couldn't find a pitch at his feet, the runner reached second with two out. Minter walked the next batter on four pitches, preferring to pitch to Puig, who promptly grounded out to shortstop Culbertson.
Had a bad feeling about Vizcaino. He did well to not walk the leadoff hitter, but Peterson fouled off enough pitches to be able to time an inside pitch past Markakis for a leadoff hitter. Had a bad feeling about Turner, who worked the count full. Viz walked the go ahead run. Two on, nobody out. Had a bad feeling about Muncie as well. Anyone else in the bullpen? Ball one. Looks like Viz doesn't want to let go of the ball. Ball two. BALL THREE. Finally a strike. Full count. Strikeout!
Can't let up now. Keep focused. Now Machado. Doesn't get any easier, especially with Manny 0-3. A strikeout, but the runners advance. Two out. Dozier up. Strike one. The crowd chants. Ball. Strike two. The crowd roars. Good shots of the crowd. Strike three – Braves win! See you at four tomorrow.
Ranking the uniforms of the eight remaining playoff teams, includes four of the best unis in baseball:
4. Red Sox…will win the ALCS
8. Brewers: will win the NLCS
Not surprising that the Braves left most of their relievers off the postseason roster, opting to use their excess starters instead. Wish they'd use one of the starters as a closer. That inability to throw a strike drives. Me. Crazy. Viz may have gotten away with the two baserunners last night, but he might not be so lucky tonight. Something about playing one of the best offenses in baseball.
Tom Verducci told a cool story: the catcher's mitt Kevin Cosner used in Bull Durham had been borrowed from Brian Snitker, who was the manager of the Durham Bulls at the time.