Hi everyone. Haven’t posted a game in a while. Mainly because most of the games at Champion Stadium have been on TV. However, today’s games were not, so I thought I give you a first-hand report on the game vs. the Astros.
Good crowd (6,890) for the game against the Astros, not a big draw. It was very hot and humid in Orlando today. As they say in that commercial, “It’s like a sau-na in here!” and it was!! It was one of the most unusual games I’ve ever attended. Great pitching on both sides and not a lot of offense. Fast game – 2 hours and fifteen minutes.
Julio Teheran was GREAT! I know it was against the Astros, not the Yankees, errrr make that the Tigers. But Julio can’t pitch much better than this: 6 innings, 89 pitches, 0 runs, 0 hits, 10 Ks, and 3 walks. He was on his game today. However, his first inning was a little shaky – first batter K, second batter walk, third batter K, fourth batter walk. Then came the first weird play of the game. He struck out the fifth batter on a wild pitch. The ball ricocheted off the back wall and when right back to our catcher, Evan Gattis. But he didn’t make the throw to first base to get the runner although it looked like he had time. Runner at first, bases loaded right? Ahh no, the batter was called out. We had no clue in the stands why. I “think” the batter was out for running inside the baseline thus blocking a throw from Evan to Freddie, but I’ve never seen that called without a throw. The other pitchers were also excellent. Jordan Walden relieved Julio and pitched well, but did give up a hit to Rick Ankiel – more on him later. First time, I’ve seen Walden. His delivery is, shall we say, unusual. He has a little hop/skip in the middle of his throws to the plate. I guess that’s what makes him effective. He was followed by O’Flaherty (excellent – 3 up, 3 down, 1K) and Kimbrel. I’ll close with his appearance.
Defense was good. No errors with another two outstanding plays from Andrelton Simmons. If he’s not the best defensive short stop in baseball, I don’t know who is.
Offense was a little anemic today. Probably because our three big boppers (Upton, Upton & Heyward) were whuping up the Blue Jays in Dunedin on this split squad day. We only had three hits and three base runners. But what hits they were. Long home runs from Uggla, Gattis & Parraz. Dan’s was a really high fly that got into the jet stream that was blowing to left and was carried out. Evan’s was a no doubter – line drive into the wind that hit half way up the scoreboard in right-center. He’s got to be on the big club to start the year, right? That’s it for offense. No walks. Sent 27 players to the plate in eight innings. Only three over the minimum. Six strike outs today.
So here we go to the top of the ninth. Braves leading 3-0. Astros have 1 hit. Craig Kimbrel in to close. Woo who! I look down at my scorebook and see that Ankiel is due up fourth in the inning and say to my buddy Marshall, “He needs to go three up three down this innings to avoid Ankiel.” Inning starts well: first batter flies out to left, second batter called strike three, third batter – Craig’s ahead 1 ball and two strikes. The crowd is going wild waiting for that third strike and Craig drills the batter in the middle of the back for a hit by pitch. Batter to first, here comes Ankiel. First pitch, he hits a high fly hit to left field. It’s in that jet stream. Will it go or won’t it????? It went. Braves 3 Astros 2. Craig goes full count to the next batter and he hits a high fly ball to right field. But here the jet-stream helps and pushes it back into the field of play for the third out. Whew!
Well we won, but I think we were disappointed to come so close to a potential no hitter. Damn Ankiel. Astros get two hits, both by him. Bottom line: Astros 2 runs, 2 hits, 13 Ks, 3 walks; Braves 3 runs, 3 hits, 6 Ks, no walks.
At least the other team laid it on the Blue Jays 10 – 5!
I laugh when I hear a discussion about who’s the Nationals biggest competition. The Phillies are just not better than the Braves. As a Braves fan the question isn’t whether or not we make the playoffs, its how far we can go in the playoffs and if we can avoid the coin flip game and win the NL East. The last few years for me, I was hoping the Braves would make the playoffs. This year I know we will. I’m that confident. Philly fans this year have to be hoping really really hard for their team. Good thing for them there are two wild cards now.
BTW this guest’s rant about Ruben Amaro Jr sometime back in the spring was linked to in another baseball column, and made me blissfully happy with just how angry Phillies fans were with him. Couldn’t say I thought it was a great article, she seemed much more reasonable on the podcast though.
Enjoying the previews from NL East foes more than I thought I would. Good work, as always.