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Braves 1, Phillies 1, Jose Ramirez slowly backing out the door

Braves 1, Phillies 1, Jose Ramirez slowly backing out the door

Oh yeah. Tuesdays.

I actually watched this game. Kinda. I was upstairs playing Civ 5, because I refuse to relearn Civ again just to get fancier graphics, and then Lisa, my wife, a woman who actually puts up with my crap on a daily basis and has for over a quarter century now, so honestly boys, quit your whining, she looks at me and says “don’t you recap Tuesdays or something” and I’m like “yeah” and she’s all like “then shouldn’t you have the game on or something” and I’m like “this kind of back talk would totally get you killed in the Bible, woman” but then I went downstairs and turned on the telly anyway and started composing this sentence which is literally like seven run-ons at once.

It was the third and the Slavic god of folting, which is the birthing process of centaurs, walked Carlos Santana, but not the “Black Magic Woman” version, and then that guy with the highlighted mini-dreads in CF singled in someone else to tie it up. But then animal husbandry half horse men god got one of his many double play balls, which made the booth guys happy, but made the stats guys roll their eyes about BABIP.

Then the game went into a nobody-hits zone, and Preston Tucker continued to be “not the Black Magic Woman” version of Preston Tucker too, and Ronald Acuna hit a monster shot in Gwinnett, so that’s going to start again I’m sure. Somewhere along the way I was getting bored and surfing my phone, because at heart I’m 13 year old girl with a penchant for cursing like a sailor, but not a Sailor Moon, because seriously guys. That’s creepy.

The Folts-singer dude somehow made it through six, and the booth guys were like ERMAHGAH HE WENT SIX FULL!! and the old guys that remember when that was actually just a “quality start” rolled their eyes.

There followed a seven year war of eye rolling.

Gabe Kapler started doing that USE ALL THE GUYS! thing he does and in the seventh Petey Moylan came on for Atlanta. Lisa looks up from her book and just randomly pipes “that guy looks like he should be a college professor at a small university, but maybe he’s got a dark secret and turns into a werewolf on the full moon.” And after 25 odd years, I’m well aware that this is going to be the absolute peak of my night, so I turned it off and went back upstairs.

Apparently Jose Ramirez blew it up in the 10th and we lost. Sorry.

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Just win, baby: Braves 2, Phillies 1

Just win, baby: Braves 2, Phillies 1

A few of the younger set might not be familiar with our “quotee” today. Al Davis was the managing general partner of the Oakland Raiders from the early 70’s until he died in 2011. He liked to take on players with discipline problems. He believed in clawing and scratching your way to the top, as he had done.

The 2018 Braves continue to “just win, baby.” April looked like a very daunting month. So far, so good. .600 ball gets you in the playoffs everytime. Stay tuned and we will see if it continues.

Julio Teheran seemed to apply smoke and mirrors to the Phillies. Can he continue to make this work? Who knows. But at least for one night, Jome Julio was a positive, and not a negative. Check these numbers. 96 pitches, 6 innings, 3 BB’s, 9 K’s, 5 hits. Helped a little by a good strand rate and the seemingly asinine base running of Odubel Herrera.

Meanwhile, Aaron Nola continued to suppress the Braves offense. only 2 K’s, but also only 4 hits and one walk. But the Braves squeezed 2 out of him and the Phillies only got 1 of Jome Julio and the pens didn’t allow any runs. Arano pitched 2 great innings for the Phillies, while Shane Carle and A.J. Minter were like Weebles, they wobbled, but they didn’t fall down. But then Arodys Vizcaino had a good ninth for the Braves FIRST SAVE OF THE YEAR.A few of the younger set might not be familiar with our “quotee” today. Al Davis was the managing general partner of the Oakland Raiders from the early 70’s until he died in 2011. He liked to take on players with discipline problems. He believed in clawing and scratching your way to the top, as he had done.

Just win, baby.

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‘Let us Meet on this Blasted Heath’…Braves 10 Cubs 14

‘Let us Meet on this Blasted Heath’…Braves 10 Cubs 14

Sam has written the best recap on all this while I was fussing with my Headline.

One game, let it go.

In appalling cold with a 40 plus MPH gale we had ‘breezed’ to a 10 to 2 lead after 4. Ossie, Dansby, Freddie and Kurt did the damage. Newk pitched ok for 5 plus innings but his iffy control after Coors gave the first sign of cold, numb fingers in the field.

Sadly, as this condition worsened our offense pretty much shut down and failed to take further advantage of it. We were to score no more. They came to life -1 in the sixth, 2 in the 7th, 9 in the incredible 8th. They didn’t have to bother to bat in the 9th, they had already won by 4.

So, where we had condescendingly suggested the game be called after 5 we found ourselves in a steadily worsening debacle of bullpen pitching and poor defense. Is there any point in naming the individuals who could not pitch effectively in these 4 innings? All of them. Who walked 6 and hit 2 during that time.

The other problem was the Cubs rose up and mastered these worsening conditions, with the bat and on the rubber. They gave us no hope of relief. Would it be fair to our guys to say they’ve had a lot more experience of playing these conditions than we have? To some extent, of course. It was awful. But so were we, throwing away such a pad.

One game. Call/write Sam.  Enough already.


Just had a crazy thought. Thank the good lord this wasn’t Acuna’s debut game.,lock_state=final,game_tab=box,game=529613

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Atlanta 4, Chicago 0

Atlanta 4, Chicago 0

The Braves rolled into the Windy City for an afternoon tilt with the Cubbies Friday. Anibal Sanchez toed the rubber for Atlanta, while the Northsiders trotted out their $126 Million Dollar Man, Yu Darvish. While both pitchers tossed the first four frames in a scoreless fashion, it was Sanchez, and not Darvish, who looked like the better hurler today.

Sanchez went six innings, and with the exception of the third, he held the Cubs in check, with three 1-2-3 innings and a fourth that featured a double play. Darvish meanwhile, allowed four walks and nine hits in his 4 2/3 innings. The wheels came off in the 5th, when, after one out, Ozzie Albies doubled, went to third on a balk, and scored on a wild pitch. After getting Freddie Freeman to strike out, Darvish allowed a single to Nick Markakis, a double to Kurt Suzuki, and a three run homer to Preston Tucker, who broke out of a mini-slump with the homer and another knock. After that, Dansby Swanson walked, Ryan Flaherty singled (one of his three hits on the day), and Sanchez drew a base on balls that Yu knew was sending Darvish to the showers.

The bullpen locked down Chicago after that, with Sam Freeman working a perfect 7th, A.J. Minter working around a two out Ian Happ double, and Arodys Vizcaino setting down the heart of the Cubs’ order in the 9th. At 8-5 the Braves are now assured of finishing this scary nine game road trip above .500 for the season. And if someone told you we’d be 8-7 after 15 games, you might have called for the men with the butterfly nets.

Anyway, I’ll leave you with this afternoon’s guest singer for Take Me Out To The Ballgame. I’d say don’t give up your day job, but he’s better than I probably am, so I won’t. (In fact when I joined my church choir I told the director it was on the condition that I wouldn’t do any solos. She heard me sing and said, ‘That won’t be a problem.’)

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Who Are The Braves So Far?

Who Are The Braves So Far?

This will largely be a compiling of the Braves’ team and unit ranks across MLB, but it does help paint a picture to see who the Braves have been so far, and who we might expect them to be going forward. It’s easy to look at a won-loss record and form your conclusion that a team has simply been good or bad, but there’s a lot of encouraging performance thus far that may lead you to believe that while we will probably not be a playoff team, this team’s strong play may not be a total fluke. They are plenty of indicators that lead to some concern, however.

It’s important to note that this season has started without some key players the Braves are expecting to contribute. Johan Camargo, Ronald Acuna, Luiz Gohara, and Tyler Flowers are expected to be difference-makers on this team, and they’ve been absent in the early outset. With that said, Ryan Flaherty and Preston Tucker have filled in admirably in the absence of Camargo and Acuna. But Flaherty and Tucker’s replacements, Charlie Culberson and Peter Bourjos, have not. The Braves haven’t needed a 5th starter much, so Gohara’s loss has been palpable as Gohara’s replacement Anibal Sanchez has appeared in two games, one start, and has given up two earned runs in eight innings. Flower’s replacement, Chris Stewart, struggled offensively and was DFA’ed and sent to AAA.


If home runs are what you’re looking for, then you’ve probably been pleasantly surprised as the Braves are 10th in MLB in home runs. Overall, they’ve been a well-rounded offensive team: 13th in walk rate, 7th in strikeout rate, 8th in OBP, and 4th in slugging. They’re 7th in wRC+ and 4th in offensive WAR, and that will do just fine. Team speed has overall been strong as they’re 5th in stolen bases, their success rate is 75%, and they’re 11th in triples. They don’t have a glaring weakness, and their BABIP (.303 and 5th in baseball) and HR rates don’t necessarily tell me that this is a team performing significantly over their heads. They’re not even bottom third in almost any category, and they’re not sporting some ungodly totals that are clearly the result of small sample size. It’s probably fair to say that their home run rate will digress, but you also have Acuna and Camargo reporting for duty soon, so one might expect an increase in power with them and a decrease from Ozzie Albies. But this is a team that was around a bottom-third team offensively in most categories last year, and this team seems to be benefitting from Kevin Seitzer‘s 4th year at the helm and first with a legitimate helping of talent.


The team defense is also seeing some significant improvements from last year. A bottom-third defense last year, the Braves are currently a top-third defense in the young season. UZR, defensive WAR, and defensive runs saved all like the Braves so far: 6th, 9th, and 7th in baseball respectively. Flaherty has a positive reputation defensively, but Camargo is a natural shortstop who will be manning third, so perhaps we’ll see some defensive improvement there. Acuna, a natural centerfielder, will undoubtedly best Tucker’s defensive performance, though Tucker may spell Nick Markakis more often in right field, resulting in some regression. Dansby Swanson has been much more sure-handed this year, and Freddie Freeman, Ozzie Albies, and Ender Inciarte have been as strong as their reputations suggest they should be. Outfield defensive replacements Lane Adams and Peter Bourjos have avoided errors, and they’ve been a marked improvement over back-up outfielders from last year. I see no reason to believe the Braves can’t continue to field the way they have.


The pitching is the area of concern for this team so far. Overall, they’re not as bad as you might think. With some strong pitching performances over the last few days, they’re now 18th in pitching WAR in these 12 games. Drilling deeper, though, there’s certainly some cause for concern. The starters are 28th in WAR, and they’re middle-of-the-road in innings pitched. Their K rate is strong (7th), but their walk rate is near bottom-third, and they’ve given up the fifth-worst home run rate. That shouldn’t surprise you. They also have a 7th-worst BABIP, and that could be partly due to a poor groundball rate (19th). On the surface, it may seem like the relievers have been fantastic. They’re 8th in WAR. But we are 15th in K rate, 28th (!!) in walks, and the only thing heavily contributing towards the high WAR total is an extremely unsustainable 0.18 HR/9, by far the tops in baseball. The next closest team is the legitimately strong Cubs with over double the rate. Between you, me, and the fencepost, I am almost certain that will not continue no matter how many groundballs the side-armer Peter Moylan can get. When that number starts going up, you’re going to see a bullpen blowing leads, giving up losses, and that WAR total is going to shoot down. They are also logging the 22nd-most innings, so if the starters aren’t able to pitch deeper into games, this bullpen will get taxed very soon.

Going forward, you’re going to see some offensive regression across the board. And accordingly, they’re not going to be able to out-hit teams the way they’ve been. But there’s nothing that necessarily says that this team has to come down to earth, so let’s enjoy it while we can. Off-day. Feel free to keep the party going.

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Braves 5, Nats 3 (by JonathanF)

Braves 5, Nats 3 (by JonathanF)

It’s Wednesday and the games are starting later – 1:06 instead of 12:10. MLB is still doing its best to make sure I can see the game and still make the Early Bird Special for dinner.

When I last left you, we were all in SSS heaven: leading baseball in runs scored, winning every series, comparing Preston Tucker to Matt Diaz and Ryan Flaherty to… well, nobody was really comparing Ryan Flaherty to anybody, but you get the idea. One week later we’re in an orgy of hat-tipping (I’m not going to dwell on this trope, but it sounds more than a little kinky) we’ve lost our first series, are trying to avoid a sweep, and are planning to DFA ¼ of the team. So I guess I have to come to the rescue again. I beat Scherzer last week. How hard could this be?

Keeping up my 1966 nostalgia tour, the 12th game in 1966 found the 7-4 Braves losing in the second game to split a Sunday doubleheader with the Mets in the Launching Pad in front of 40,477. HOFers in the game: Aaron, Torre, Mathews, Niekro and the father of a HOFer, Sandy Alomar. Faith Hill’s father-in-law got the win from back when he was a starter. Felipe Alou hit two homers.

The Nats pitched AJ Cole, who came into the game with a 24.55 ERA and a WHIP of 3.5. SSS, Albies gives the Braves their first lead since the Mountain Time Zone with a first inning mammo as the second batter, which actually does trivially increase Cole’s ERA, though by the end of his stint he had lowered it to 12.00. McCarthy gets double plays behind him in the first two innings, but gives up a run on a single by Trea Turner in the 3rd. Suzuki responds with a foul pole shot in the top of the 4th to regain the lead (No… I refuse to call it a “fair pole.” Just no.) George Washington won the Presidents’ Race. The bottom of the 4th brought the Braves 3rd DP of the game.

People have criticized Brandon McCarthy’s ability to stay healthy, which seems a little uncharitable for a guy who was almost killed by batted ball. But in the bottom of the 5th he dislocated his glove shoulder fielding a flip from Freddie for the last out. Wikipedia notes he dislocated the same shoulder while weight-lifting last year, leading to a long DL stint. New Head Trainer George C. Poulis popped it back into place on the field, but he came out of the game to be replaced by the other Freeman. Hopefully this will be more like Tony Finau than last year’s McCarthy.

The bottom of the 6th brought the 4th DP, made even sweeter by the fact that it was a Harper DP. Winkler got in some 2 out trouble in the 7th. He gave up a single to Difo with 2 on but Bourjos threw out Matt Adams at the plate by about 10 feet. Adams is no swifter than he was last year. If Barry Bonds could’ve made that throw the Pirates would still be celebrating their 1992 World Series win.

Minter for the 8th with Harper due 3rd. K-K-K. Easy peasy.

Folk semi-hero Ryan Flaherty bats in the top of the 9th with two out and two on. Another K and he is now hemi-demi-semi folk hero Ryan Flaherty.

Arodys in the bottom of the 9th with his first save opportunity of the year… pretty odd for a closer on a 6-5 team. Rendòn out on a kick save by Vizcaíno… but then Matt Adams ties it up with a blast to center. Blown save, but I got a chance to use two accented letters. Single, bad pickoff, wild pitch. Ouch. But a groundout leads to free baseball.

Free baseball. Leadoff walk to Ender. K-SB. IBB to Freddie. Neck:K. Double steal. Inciarte steals home! Called out initially. Review calls him out. I don’t think so, but there you are. If we were a really good team this play and the Bourjos slide are the ones you remember.

Actual folk hero Kurt Suzuki with dinger two in the top of the 11th. Bourjos off the schneid with a double. Close but no cigar as the inning ends with runners stranded on 2nd and 3rd again.

Bottom of the 11th. Shane Carle for the save. Harper single to lead off, natch. Goes to second on a groundout by Rendòn. Down to the last out….. but no. Tied up with a Howie Kendrick double. We go to the 12th. I’m gonna be too late for the Blue Plate Special. Back to back singles by Oz and Fred off Madson. Neck: BB. Folk hero up – bases loaded and no out. Infield fly – legitimate one. (Still sore about that… just like last week.) Bourjos – two in a row! Two run single! Dansby:K. Braves are out of hitters so Carle hits and … well, he goes to the plate and doesn’t touch one.

Proving himself incapable of a save, Shane can now go for the win. FO-2. K. Last out… again. 6-3.

We won’t see Harper again until the end of May unless he’s traded to us in return for Bourjos (“Defense wins championships and Bourjos has it …plus he outhit Harper in that last game where we saw him”). Get it done AA, while Bourjos’ value is high.

OK. I’ve righted the ship. See you next week.

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gNats 4, Braves quietly crashing back toward expectations

gNats 4, Braves quietly crashing back toward expectations

Yesterday we tipped our hat to Max Scherzer and pretended like that was an actual, legitimate “stolen base” rather than defensive indifference, but whatever. Today we tip our hat to…

No. No we do not. Stephen Strasburg could literally invent a time machine, go back into history, murder Stalin and Hitler in their cribs while ushering in a thousand years of pristine liberal democracy and we would still not “tip our hat to him.” Some people are simply beneath us.

Sure, the skinny freak followed up Scherzer’s pristine performance with 8 innings of shutout ball of his own, but let’s be honest. They’ve shut down the Braves offense these last two nights primarily by having Preston Tucker and Ryan Flaherty remember who they actually are.

Additionally, Kurt Suzuki hasn’t really found much of a swing yet, Carlos Perez is precisely what you’d imagine a player to be having picked him up from the waiver wire literally after spring training ended, and Ender Inciarte is still abjectly lost at the plate.

On the upside, Neck continues to feign offensive usefulness and Dansbo is still teasing us with a performance of “let’s just pretend last year never happened, ‘kay?”

Foltzenewicczrzdraddrake wasn’t bad, but he was inefficient this time through the Nats order. Which is why he didn’t last past the 5th. I mean, he’s still a’ight and all, but there’s way better trap music out there bruh.

The Braves continue to ride early season production to a run differential that says “they’re actually pretty good,” but once again, let us all sing the song of small sample size theater before we get crazy up in here. The loss drops them back to 6-5, where they are tied with the Nats for 2nd in the East, behind the absurdly fast starting Mets (9-1.)

No, no one actually believes in the Mets’ fast start. Not even Mets fans. It’s 11 games into the season. They will choke. They’re the Mets.

In the 11th game of 1991, Steve Avery went 6 full giving up only 1 run, at Chavez Ravine. The Mike Stanton we still call “Mike” Stanton had a two inning hold, and “Senor Smoke,” Juan Berenguer muddled his way around a hit and a walk in the 9th, even though we led 7-1 by then. If there had been an internet at the time, everyone would have been shouting for Bobby Cox to be fired for running his closer out there in a pointless situation.

The offense was firing on all cylinders. Seven of the eight position players got on base multiple times. Even Mike Heath, who caught that day, and you forgot even so much as ever existed. Only Raffy Belliard failed to get on, going 0-5. But he didn’t strike out or anything, and with Pacman that was actually sort of an offensive outburst.

Bobby Ojeda took the loss.

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Spaniard! Spaniard! Spaniard!, gNats 2, Braves whimpering in the night

Spaniard! Spaniard! Spaniard!, gNats 2, Braves whimpering in the night

Maximus: You would fight me?

Commodus: Why not? Do you think I am afraid?

Maximus: I think you’ve been afraid all your life.
Tigris: We who are about to die, salute you!

As much as the phrase has been derided on this site, absolutely this game was a “tip your hat” to Max Scherzer kind of game.

Most of the time when you watch a Major League baseball game, at some point in the game you see something so magnificent it astounds you. Saturday it was Ozzie Albies catch. Sunday it was Charlie Culberson diving into the stands and making the play. When your team does that, a lot of times it wins. When the other team does that, a lot of times they win.

Such a moment occurred with Ender Inciarte leading off the 4th inning. First, if your leadoff hitter is batting for the second time leading off the 4th, you know it hasn’t been a good offensive night. Ender stakes the count to 3 balls and 2 strikes. Then, Scherzer throws one at Ender’s right knee. C. B. Bucknor called it a strike and Ender was livid. Well, despite C. B’s penchant for bizarre ball / strike calls, “FoxTrax” showed it clearly hit the inside edge of the strike zone. From the centerfield camera, that fastball rode arm side probably 8 inches total. Ender was protesting the impossibility of such a thing. On this night, Maximus was that effective.

In the first inning the gNats got 2 and otherwise Julio Teheran pitched fairly well. Probably number 3 starter good. Maximus pitched like the greatest of the gladiators.

All hail the Spaniard. All hail Maximus.

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Braves 4, Rockies 0

Braves 4, Rockies 0

The wind was blowing in at Coors Field, but it didn’t make the Braves shutout any less impressive, as Nick Markakis, Dansby Swanson, and Ozzie Albies all tamed it with solo home runs.  Sean Newcomb went 6+ strong innings, allowing 5 hits and 0 (!) walks, along with piling up 9 strikeouts.

Newcomb started a double play in the first to help him dance around 3 Rockies hits; the Rockies didn’t touch him again until back to back singles to start the 7th.  Shane Carle‘s fun story continues, as he induced a double play and a fly out to finish the 7th, and to keep Newcomb’s line clean.  Sam Freeman got his man in the 8th, plus one more, the first with the help of an into-the-stands diving catch by Charlie Culberson, which you undoubtedly will be able to see on the highlight show of your choice.  Arodys Vizcaino finished up uneventfully in a non-save situation.

Albies also hit a scorching double into the left center field gap accounting for the Braves other RBI.  The Braves take the series, and they raise their record to 6 – 3.

The Braves fast start may slow the brakes on the Ronald Acuna rumors.  It was widely assumed that under the tutelage of our miracle workers at Gwinnett, that Acuna would need little more than a week in order to acquire the seasoning he lacks in order to be ready to join the major league team.  Micro sample size notwithstanding, the day is still fast approaching.

It’s just old Lane, and Lane’s waiting on the judgment day
“Well, Lane my friend, what about young Anibal?”
He said “Do me a favor son, won’t you stay and keep Anibal company?”

At Washington on Monday.  Natspos delenda est.

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Xanadu…Walk Off Loss…Colorado 3 Braves 2.

Xanadu…Walk Off Loss…Colorado 3 Braves 2.

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan

a stately Pleasure Dome decree

where Alph the sacred river ran

through caverns measureless to man

down to a sunless sea.


Why fool with verse?  That’s why, see above. Even a rather nasty 15 y. old can be stirred by that and have his life start to change.

And where do our Braves come into all this?  Don’t you feel the cold running through it? Underground caverns full of icy mountain water. And flowing where? Down to a sunless sea. It was COLD. We are in Colorado. It should be cold.

And this. Rocky Mountain High. Coleridge was about the first major poet to admit he was an habitual opium user. He knew high…. So, to the game.


FIRST. We wasted a ringing lead off double from Ender- Ozzie, Freddie and Neck disappoint.

Sanchez issues a 2 out walk to Arenado but no problem.

SECOND. It must be the weather – it’s warm – we go quietly 1/2/3. Bettis likes the Braves and it’s showing.

Parra with a one out single, left stranded. It’s 57 degrees for pete’s sake, now they tell us.

THIRD. A  5/4/3 DP ends our effort after catcher single.

Charlie Blackmon scores the games first run, driven in by Arenado. Perez throws him out.   Colorado 1-0

FOURTH   Ozzie lines out to right. Neck a 2 out single, the great Tucker makes the final out. Philly leads Miami 20-1.

Story with a 2 out solo  homer to left. Colorado 2-0.

FIFTH  After a lead of walk to Dansby was wiped out with a DP, nothing. For the first team this season Acuna would not have been superfluous to our offense. We are having the usual problems with Bettis and look thin.

Great work by Sanchez. With runners on first and third, one out, he completed striking out the side. I think he’s a good guy to have around, great change up.


With one out Ozzie is called out at first on a challenged call  when he appeared to be safe but FF came up and doubled to left center driving in pinch runner Lane Adams. If Ozzie had been successful in his challenge he would have tied the game. Tucker came up with 2 out, 2 on, again hit the ball hard but right at second.   Colorado 2 – 1.

Sam Freeman pitching. He walks one, strikes out two. Nothing doing.

SEVENTH.. Brian Shaw pitching. Perez hits into his second double play to close out the innings.

Winkler comes on in relief of Sam, strikes out Arenado to close out the innings.

EIGHTH.. McGee on to pitch, shuts us down.

Winkler continues, gives up nothing, great defensive play by Ozzie.

NINTH   Wayne Davis goes for the kill. If I could remember everything that happened in the top of the ninth and by whom it would be written down. Suffice it to say we tied the game after a one out walk and a single by Dansby led Flaherty to drive in the tying run. We were unable to take the lead but we got Davis out of the game.

After they put two on with no outs we were bailed out by Blackmon’s inability to get a bunt down but, more particularly, a phenomenal diving catch by Ozzie producing a double play. Minter not impressive.

TENTH..We got Ozzie to third with the go ahead run and two out. Nick hit a bona fide line drive over short stop which Story made a great leaping drive to catch.

A great game ends anti-climatically when with bases loaded and two out Vizzy couldn’t re-find his control and walked in the winning run on four straight pitches. Wow.     FINAL   COLORADO 3   BRAVES 2



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