If you’ve been paying attention to any of the games against the Dodgers this year, you’d notice one thing was missing. A win. The Atlanta Braves have played the Dodgers five times prior to this game and won exactly zero. With the division constantly slipping away in the distant horizon, a sixth loss was simply unacceptable. With that in mind, there’s no better pitcher to have on the mound than Ervin Santana. He faced off against the Dodgers lefty Hyun Jin Ryu.
Raise your hand if you think the Braves’ major problem is hitting the ball. Okay, everyone put their hands down. Yes, this team has problems putting lumber to leather, but in this game they managed to do something I haven’t seen much of in the losing streak. They mounted a comeback.
The Dodgers struck early with two runs in the second inning. Everyone who has already given up on the team probably turned off the TV in disgust. But for those of you who still hold out hope, you were treated to a minor miracle. The Braves rallied right back in the bottom half of the second inning. Andrelton Simmons sacrificed in Evan Gattis to make the score 2-1 Dodgers. In the fourth inning, Simmons came through again. This time he hit a bloop broken bat single that scored Justin Upton. He then decided to pass the torch to Justin in the fifth inning, as Upton singled in Jason Heyward to give the Braves a 3-2 lead.
Santana was brilliant after the initial second inning issues. Ervin went six innings, gave up the two runs on eight hits, and struck out nine hitters. That was exactly the kind of start the Braves needed to get back on the horse. After Santana, David Carpenter came in for an inning of relief, allowing no hits or runs. Jordan Walden followed Carpenter, and he allowed only one hit with no runs. Ryu was not his usual self, and he left the game in the sixth inning after suffering some sort of leg injury.
That meant for the first time this season, the Braves got to use Craig Kimbrel against the Dodgers in a save situation. Craig looked rusty on his first three pitches, and immediately put himself in trouble by walking the lead off man. Craig does that far too often this year. After that the Dodgers tried to bunt, but they ended up beating out the throw to first. Two on, nobody out, and guess who comes to the plate? Yasiel Puig. Craig fanned him on an upstairs fast ball. Then a single to left by Adrian Gonzalez loaded the bases with one out, after Justin Upton made a huge mental error by not throwing to third base. If he goes to third, the runner who held on the play is out by a mile.
So the game on the line, and all the Dodgers need from Matt Kemp is a fly ball to the outfield with one out. What do you think happens? Well, you’re wrong. Kemp hit into a 4-6-3 double play, and the Braves won the game. Yep, that really happened. In all the stuff that’s gone wrong for the Braves this year, they finally caught a huge break at the end of a game.
The MVP goes to Simmons for his two RBI night, coming back off a foot injury. We needed those two runs badly as they turned out to be the difference in the game. The Braves go 2-7 with RISP, turned two double plays including the game-winner, and speedy (heh) Freddie Freeman stole a base! Finally, the Braves find the win column against the Dodgers, and they have a chance to split the series on Thursday. Aaron Harang will go against Roberto Hernandez. Don’t miss it!