There are very few baseball games in a regular season that I would classify as memorable. The fourth game in the series between the Atlanta Braves and the Milwaukee Brewers is one of those privileged few. The game started very poorly for the Braves, simply because they decided to pitch to Jonathan Lucroy. Coming into the game, Lucroy was 6-for-10 in the series. You can sense my frustration that, with two outs and a runner on second, Harang decided to lay a pitch in the zone for Milwaukee’s catcher. That gave the Brewers the early 1-0 lead before the Braves even got to bat.
One mistake I can forgive, but the in the top of the 3rd, the Braves found themselves in a similar situation. With a runner on second and two outs, the Braves pitched to Lucroy again. And again, Lucroy made them pay with a single that upped the lead to 2-0 Brewers. At this point, I was screaming at the TV to bean the guy instead of throwing it in the zone. Alas, my warnings went unheeded. I would think guys getting paid millions of dollars to manage games could figure out that pitching to a player hitting .600+ in the series is a bad idea. I guess I just want too much as a fan. I blame society.
With the game already feeling like it was slipping away in the 3rd, Jason Heyward got things back on track with a RBI single to knock in Dan Uggla, making it a 2-1 advantage for the Brewers. Did I mention Dan Uggla was on base? He was. Don’t spend all your shock there, he did it again later in the game. The Brewers weren’t threatened, though. They struck right back in the 4th with a run to make it 3-1, and then again in the 6th to make it 4-1. When the Brewers scored the 4th run, Ian Thomas came in to reliever Harang. Thomas had to deal with runners at the corners and one out. He proceeded to pick off the runner at first, intentionally walk the batter, and then strike out the pitcher to get out of the inning. That would prove to be huge.
BJ Upton homered to right in the 6th to make the score 4-2 in favor of the Brewers. I hope you had some shock left. I didn’t warn you about BJ suddenly becoming relevant. In the 7th, the game came completely off the rails. Chris Johnson singled to lead the inning off, Andrelton Simmons popped out, and then Dan Uggla singled to put runners at 1st and 2nd. Gerald Laird then bounced a ball to the 3rd base side that handcuffed the fielders, ricocheted into left field, and Laird somehow chugged around the bases for a double. CJ would score to make it 4-3, and Uggla would go to third. Laird looked like he needed an ice-pack and a beer at second base after all that effort.
Then, the most bizarre turn of events happened. This is what makes the game so memorable. The Brewers attempted to execute a double switch. The only problem is they apparently brought in the wrong pitcher. The bullpen had no idea what was going on, and the guy the Brewers wanted hadn’t warmed up. So, they sent the guy back to the bullpen. Except you can’t do that apparently, and the umps had to stop the game to review something for 10 minutes. Nobody knew what the rule was, and nobody understood what was getting reviewed, it felt like ages just trying to get the game going again. Meanwhile, Ryan Doumit just waited patiently for his pinch hitting chance. When the dust settled, Ryan smacked a single that scored both runners and gave the Braves a 5-4 lead.
But, the reviews weren’t over. There was a call at second where the throw pulled the fielder off the bag. This too got reviewed, and the Braves won again. Reviews have become something akin to a gladiator sport in the stadium. The entire populace can see them while the proceedings are going on in New York. The umpires stand around in a hunched circle with headphones on with the crowd cheers or boos. The only thing missing is for Ryan Doumit to charge out of the dugout screaming, “ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?!?!”
The Braves couldn’t scratch across any insurance in the rest of the 7th, so the game moved a little more quickly to the 9th. There was another replay review, but you get the point. I tried to calculate amount of time lost to reviews in this game, but it involved a hypotenuse so I gave up. The Braves led by just one run in the 9th, and that meant it was Kimbrel time. Craig took the first batter to an 0-2 count before he plunked him on a slider. Of course the Brewers had to get a leadoff runner. I don’t think Kimbrel is comfortable anymore unless he has a little stress on the basepaths. Anyway, the real Craig showed up after that, and he struck out the side in dominating fashion.
So, the Braves won a stunner 5-4, and they took 3 of 4 in the series. Harang wasn’t sharp, but it didn’t matter in the end. The team went 3-5 with RISP, and stranded 6 runners. The player of the game had to be Ryan Doumit, who came through with a huge 2-RBI pinch hit in the 7th. That was what won the game for the Braves. Chris Johnson comes in a close second with his 3-for-4 night after struggling so badly this series. Also, BJ and Dan get nods for their 2 RBIs and 3 runs scored. I didn’t like the lineup much when the game started, but I loved it when the game was over.
The Braves are hot at home, and they look to continue that against the Rockies this weekend. Tune in for more Turner Field fireworks.