The Braves are getting used to extra innings games at the moment. Monday night's game against the Pirates was the team's third in the space of a week, and comfortably the longest. Thankfully, the Braves came out on top in this 15-inning marathon as David Ross' bases loaded grounder was enough to bring home Jeff Francoeur and secure a 7-6 walkoff win.
The game was not only of note for its duration. With victory, Bobby Cox became just the fourth manager of all time to win 2,000 games with the same team.
The early stages of the game proved more exciting than the extra innings, though not as tense. Chipper Jones continued his hot streak and hit his eighth home run of the year off Pirates starter, Zach Duke in the first inning. Duke went on to give up another two home runs in the fifth inning, the first to his former teammate, Nate McLouth and the second to Brian McCann. Though able to scramble through six innings, Duke was hardly impressive as he scattered 11 hits and two walks. All six of the Braves' "regulation time" runs were charged against Duke.
Opposing Duke was the Braves' very own Jekyll and Hyde, Kenshin Kawakami. His 3-6 record does not do justice to how well he has pitched at times this year, though it does indicate how mediocre he has been at others. Monday was somewhere in between. He too managed six innings, giving up three runs on four hits, walking one and striking out five. It does seem difficult though to remember Kawakami pitching in this matchup. By the time Ross had won the game for Atlanta, it was approaching 2am.
Though Peter Moylan's three earned runs given up cost Kawakami the win and many Braves fans their sleep, credit must go to the bullpen, who dodged a few bullets in keeping the game in check. Particular credit should go to Kris Medlen. With the 'pen depleted, Cox turned to Medlen to essentially go back to a starter's role in the top of the 13th inning. In three innings of work, Medlen gave up just one hit and one walk, giving the team a chance to win it, which they finally took.
Tuesday's game will test a tired two teams in game 2 of this four game series. Atlanta used 21 players in the victory, with only Derek Lowe, Javier Vazquez, Tommy Hanson and Diory Hernandez warming the bench. Pittsburgh too used 21 of their complement of 25. The game begins at 7pm from Turner Field and sees Lowe (6-3) face Ross Ohlendorf (5-5) as the Braves seek their third win in a row.
9th June 2009