After a long, rain-lengthened, 10-inning marathon, the Atlanta Braves left Turner Field victorious over the Minnesota Twins on the strength of a walk-off single by Freddie Freeman.
After a Jason Heyward 2-out double in the bottom of the 10th inning, the Twins elected to walk Justin Upton to allow lefty Brian Duensing to face Freeman to attain a platoon advantage. That maneuver backfired in a major way for Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire, as Freeman stroked a deep single to right field and Heyward scored easily from 2nd to give Atlanta the win.
It was a long, winding road to victory for Atlanta, and the story began with an hour-plus rain delay in the top of the 3rd inning. In addition to rainy conditions, Turner Field experienced a power surge that knocked out a portion of the field lights, and although the Braves led 2-1 heading into the delay, it was clearly a negative for Atlanta.
Tim Hudson emerged (unlikely as it was) after the stoppage and immediately allowed back-to-back singles to allow Minnesota to tie the game at 2-2. After that small barrage, however, Hudson was fantastic, retiring the last 8 batters he faced in route to a gutty, 5-inning performance in an attempt to save the Braves beleaguered bullpen.
Over the next 5 innings, the only scoring on either side came on a Brian McCann home run in the 4th inning that looked to be the potential difference in the game. Then, in the top of the 8th inning, the Twins pushed across 2 runs on the strength of back-to-back singles by Trevor Plouffe (to tie the game at 3-3) and Ryan Doumit (to take the lead) off of Cory Gearrin.
The Braves were down to their final out before folk hero Evan Gattis stepped to the plate and evened the game with a pinch-hit home run. Gattis continues to build his legend on what seems like a daily basis, but his heroics, paced by a raucous crowd, pushed things to a new level. Craig Kimbrel threw a scoreless 10th inning, and in the bottom half of the frame, the Freeman walk-off single put an end to the 4+ hour marathon.
Gattis and Freeman (who went 2-for-5 with 2 RBI) were the obvious stalwarts in the game, but Brian McCann had a tremendous night with 3 hits including the aforementioned home run, and Jason Heyward seems to have turned his bat around with a 2-for-5 night including several hard-hit balls. Anthony Varvaro was the second hero of the pitching staff on the night (behind Hudson) as he tossed two shut-out innings to bridge the gap between Hudson and the late-inning guys, and he was extremely effective with all of his pitches.
In the end, it was an absolutely wild night at Turner Field, but the final result was the Braves escaping with their fifth consecutive win on an insanely entertaining homestand. It was the fourth come-from-behind victory in five nights, and it seems that every time the Braves need a “big play”, there is someone there to walk through the door and make it.
Stay tuned for Wednesday’s “getaway” game, as first pitch will come early at 12:10 PM ET.