C.B. Bucknor was doing what he does best Wednesday night in Washington, and that is being an atrocious major league umpire. However, the Braves got a fire lit under them in the fifth inning, and rallied from a two-run deficit to beat the Nationals 5-2, and in the process, they knocked their magic number to clinch the division down to two.
Let’s fast forward to the bottom of the fifth inning, where the action truly began. Up to this point, Alex Wood had pitched a great game, going four innings, and scattering five hits. Wood got himself into trouble in though in the fifth, thanks to a hit, an error, and walk, which loaded the bases with one out. With Jason Werth at the plate, and a 3-2 count, Wood tried to cross up Werth with an inside fastball. It was called a ball by Bucknor, and looking at replays, it really was a borderline pitch that could have gone either way.Wood, however, about lost his mind on the mound. Fredi Gonzalez quickly rushed out of the dugout, and confronted Bucknor, taking the heat off of Wood. Fredi would get tossed, and the inning would continue. The inning would continue, and after allowing a sacrifice fly, Wood would be pulled. Walking off the mound, Wood would say something to Bucknor, getting himself tossed from the game.
Now, Braves Nation was upset by what transpired that inning. As for the call itself, up to that point, I was fine with it. It was a borderline pitch. As for Wood getting tossed, that was warranted as well, but you can’t blame the get for having emotions like that in a game like this. So at this point in the game, this blogger was willing to live and forget. But as you will see, we will come back to Bucknor shortly.
In the top of the sixth inning, down 2-0, Dan Uggla led off the inning and hit a home run to left field, his first since July 25th, cutting the lead in half. Jordan Schafer was up next, and he laid down a bunt that was fielded by Nationals’ started Ross Ohlendorf, who threw the ball past first base, and it rolled all the way down the line into foul territory towards the stands, allowing Schafer to reach third base. Joey Terdoslavich would follow, and after just missing his first career homer, pulling it foul, would strike out. Elliot Johnson then popped out to third base, and it appeared a little more heart ache was in order for the Braves, leaving a runner at third when there were no outs. Justin Upton stepped up to the plate, and took a first pitch breaking ball and deposited it into the left field stands, giving Atlanta a 3-2 lead.
Now we return to Bucknor. It’s the bottom of the sixth, Anthony Varvaro is pitching, and there are two outs and nobody on. Anthony Rendon is batting, and Varvaro hits him with a pitch. Varvaro is clearly frustrated by this, yet, Bucknor feels it is appropriate to issue warnings to both teams. Are you kidding me right now? Why on earth would Varvaro intentionally put the tying run on base? And I don’t recall any bad blood from earlier in the series. So this was completed unwarranted by Bucknor, further proving he should not be a major league umpire. He clearly did not understand the situation at all, and just loves being in the spotlight.
But wait! There is yet more to come from your favorite umpire!
It’s now the top of the seventh inning. Evan Gattis led off with a single, and was taken down in favor of Andrelton Simmons on the base paths. Brian McCann would double off the wall in right, scoring Simmons. Chris Johnson would work a walk, and that brought Dan Uggla to the plate. Uggla worked the count full, only to be called out on strikes. Now, this is the point where I got angry over the call that went against Wood in the fifth inning. Why? Because the pitch Uggla got called out on was the exact same pitch that wasn’t called a strike to Werth. Same pitch. Same location. One was ball four, the other was strike three. The Braves would have had the bases loaded with no outs, but instead they get nothing more in the inning.
The Braves would add one more run in the ninth off an infield hit by Jordan Schafer. Craig Kimbrel rebounded from his outing yesterday, and retired the Nationals in order, recording his 48th save of the season.
Huge win for the Braves. There was such a range of emotions in the fifth and sixth innings, and after the events of yesterday, this was a badly needed victory. The Braves now have an off day Thursday, before heading to Chicago for a weekend series, with a great chance to win their first division title since 2005.