Escobar Delivers Walk-Off Win
Update: The Mets have bumped Brian Lawrence from their three games against the Braves and added John Maine, who will be pitching the Thursday game, moving Orlando Hernandez up to Wednesday. Someone is feeling the heat from behind them. Can't blame them though, it certainly gets a lot tougher for the Braves now.
In what has become a regular occurrence, the Braves had to go into extras again on Sunday. There was a change to the story though, this time the Braves won. The offense collected a disproportionate amount of hits and runs in the game. With a total of fifteen hits through the ten-inning affair, the lineup only put up six runs. Still, it was enough to get the win and a much-needed one at that as the Braves head to New York and Philadelphia for the next six games. Chipper, even with severe pain in his thumb, had a great day at the plate. He struck the first big blow with a two-run shot off Aaron Cook and added a double, single, and walk over the course of the game. Corky Miller, who got the start today not only chipped in with a defensive gem behind the plate, but hit a game-tying double in the sixth before Willie Harris knocked him home. Everything came down to the tenth though. After a Mark Teixeira strikeout, Jeff Francoeur hit a rocket double into the left field corner. Matt Diaz was given the intentional pass and then after two particularly over-matched looking swings, Yunel Escobar drove a Taylor Bucholz pitch into left to chase home Francoeur and the winning run. The guy knows how to hit in pressure situations, you've got to give him that.
The pitching was very mediocre for the Braves today. Chuck James, who got the start hit his five-inning road block again. After holding the Rockies to two runs over five innings of work, Chuck James stayed in to pitch the sixth and ended up being charged with another two runs. James finished with four earned runs on six hits, three walks, and two home runs. Tyler Yates inherited a first and third with no outs situation and did quite a fine bit of damage control, allowing just one of the inherited runners to score. Dotel had another tough outing that wasn't helped at all by the home plate umpire. He allowed one run on two hits in his one inning of work. He has been missing his spots quite a bit the past two outings. Fortunately, you can get away with a good amount tossing a 96+ mph fastball at the hitters. Rafael Soriano and Bob Wickman finished up the regular frames and Wickman had a patented outing. If you're not sweating, he's not doing something right. Bobby handed the ball off to Oscar Villarreal, who finished off the bottom of the Rockies order in the tenth with a perfect inning and picked up the win. The pitching looked a lot worse than it actually was, due a lot to the strike zone of the home plate umpire. Consistency is what you look for more than anything and the zone was anything but that. One inning pitchers were being squeezed and the next you could bounce one five feet in front of the plate and get a called strike. Not a good game for Paul Nauert.
The Braves head to New York next to start their series on Tuesday night at 7:10 ET. The pitching matchups worked out for us as Buddy Carlyle, John Smoltz, and Tim Hudson will go for the Braves against Oliver Perez, Brian Lawrence, and Orlando Hernandez for the Mets; all three of whom are struggling of late.