Last night was – with no exceptions – the craziest ballgame I’ve ever been to. The BravesBlast crew gathered in our seats before the pregame ceremonies and stayed there until the final out over five hours later. Tom Glavine looked good. He sure threw a lot of balls – high pitch count really quickly – thus he only got through 5 innings. But the crowd was glad to have him back. We got the lead early – but the bullpen squandered that. Manny Acosta was horrible – hardly the calm and collected reliever we saw in spring training. He gave up four runs and two home runs in two innings, and all of a sudden it was 9-4, Pirates lead. Let’s hope the bullpen doesn’t lapse to last season.
Then came the bottom of the ninth – and we rallied. Started by the second string once again – who drew a series of walks, we somehow pulled alongside the Pirates on a lazy two-out pop fly by Brian McCann. Chipper kicked it into gear as soon as the ball was hit and when the ball inexplicably dropped in short center field, he was already crossing the plate with the tying run. McCann stood on first base with a look of disbelief on his face (that was proudly displayed on the big screen).
At this point, we brought in Soriano. He looked good and kept the Pirates scoreless after giving up a double. The Braves took him out as his spot in the batting order was coming up. Now by this time, the Braves had used so many relievers that Blaine Boyer was the only one left in the ‘pen.
Boyer was spotless in the 11th, striking out two. We went to the 12th. Boyer was back on the mound, partially because he was gorgeous in the 11th, partially because there were no more relievers. Heck, Jair Jurrjens showed up in the bullpen and spent a little time warming up. He’s supposed to start Wednesday’s game.
But Boyer allowed two base runners and then gave up a shot to right field that just cleared the fence – putting the Pirates up 12-9. But nobody left – everyone who stuck through the 9-4 deficit in the 9th figured we could pull out of a 12-9 in the 12th. And we almost did.
Francoeur’s solo shot (which I called, by the way) made it 12-10. Then Diaz knocked in a run to make it 12-11. And with a runner on base and two outs in the 12th, Corky Miller (the only bench player left to pinch-hit for Boyer) popped a ball to center field. This time they caught it. And we had to go home.
Sure, we got an L in the W/L column. But it didn’t feel like a loss. It felt like a team ready to fight no matter what the odds this season. It felt like our team was ready to do battle. It’s baseball season!
Tags: Blaine Boyer, Brian McCann, Chipper Jones, Jeff Francoeur, Manny Acosta, Pittsburgh Pirates, Rafael Soriano, Tom Glavine
Posted in Game Analysis | 13 Comments »
I’m not trying to manufacture drama here, but I do need to say, last night reminded me even more why baseball is still America’s pastime passion and why the game is important. Sure, the Braves lost, but that’s not the point.
What did I love about last night?
The feeling of walking up into Monument Grove at 4:30, hours before the game started and seeing the crowd of Braves fan. Looking at those statues of Aaron, Spahn, and Niekro…it felt like…history. Looking at the Phil Niekro statue. Knowing that, like his fellow Grove-mate, Warren Spahn, he’s not going to be with us forever.
The smell of the ballpark food.
Batting practice. Where any slob (myself included) can, for a moment, be a big league outfielder.
The Braves showing the ultimate salute to one of their own. Asking Javy Lopez to throw out the first pitch. You gave us your best years, Javy. And, most recently, you gave us everything you had. Yeah, it wasn’t enough, but we love you for the effort.
And catching Javy’s pitch? In a beautiful and timeless role-reversal: One John Smoltz.
Tom Glavine. Not only was he wholeheartedly cheered when announced in the roster, but at his first pitch, the stadium stood and screamed encouragement and approval.
But how about the game itself?
Tags: Home Opener, Javy Lopez, Mark Kotsay, Monument Grove, Pittsburgh Pirates, Tom Glavine, Turner Field, Yunel Escobar
Posted in General | 9 Comments »
Well the time has finally come for the 2008 Braves home opener. After falling to the Nationals in the bottom of the ninth last night, I know we’re all ready to see the offense come alive and put some runs on the board early and often. The offense seemed a little stifled last night, so it’ll be nice to see them break out and settled into the season.
Tonight, the Braves (0-1) kick off a three-game series against the Pirates (0-0). Tom Glavine makes his first regular season start since returning to the Braves against Ian Snell for Pittsburgh. Snell is coming off of a 9-12 season in 2007 with a 3.76 ERA. It looks to be a great night for baseball with temperatures slated to be in the mid to high 50s and the rain should hold off until the overnight hours.
We’ll be heading down to enjoy the Turner Field atmosphere since it has been a good while since we’ve been around there for a regular season game. The game starts at 7:10 ET and I’ll be doing my best to keep up with the comments and game updates on this thread from at the game. Baseball’s back in Atlanta for the season. Go Braves!
Tags: Home Opener, Pittsburgh Pirates, Tom Glavine
Posted in Game Threads | 69 Comments »