Last night's†loss was many things: devastating, gut-wrenching, and sort of pathetic. Braves fans watched in agony as the utter domination that Tim Hudson brought to the mound against the best pitcher in baseball was wasted in the last frame. Tonight made me realize one thing; it feels really good to do it to someone else. A game that look hopeless was turned into one of the most exciting wins of the Braves season, capped off by a patented Bob Wickman save. The pitching was quite good against a Cleveland squad that can put up some runs. Every start that Buddy Carlyle pitches well, I feel better and better about the state of our starting rotation. The journeyman right-hander went six and the two earned runs he did give up are quite deceiving. The first came off of a weakly hit bloop single by Victor Martinez and a Yunel Escobar error (Those seem to be getting frequent) put him in a bases loaded, no outs situation right before he gave up the second earned run. Tyler Yates came in and again looked dominant and it is so nice to see a Mets retread become such a good reliever. The eighth was heart-breaking for me. For the only time I can remember, Rafael Soriano allowed the other team to take the lead. While it was disappointing to see the Casey Blake homerun, it really is a testament to just how dominating he has been for us. After taking the lead in the ninth, Bob Wickman stepped onto the mound at Jacobs Field for the first time since the Indian's all-time saves leader was traded to Atlanta mid-way last season. A leadoff single, a balk, a walk, no runs, and three strikeouts later, the Braves had taken the first game of this three-game set.
Considering the Braves were facing down with the Indians ace and one of the top southpaws in the game today, I was very impressed with the offense. Chris Woodward... yes, Chris Woodward put the Braves on the board with an RBI single in the fifth. Still down 3-1, Chipper Jones, Andruw Jones, and Jeff Francoeur all singled to start off the sixth. Matt Diaz added a bunt single to load the bases and a sac fly by Brian McCann tied the game up. The ninth is when it really got fun though. After a hard-hit double off the left field wall by Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Johnny Peralta booted a ball of the bat of Brian McCann. Chris Woodward dropped down a picture perfect sacrifice bunt (something the Indians don't see too much) and the game-winning Yunel Escobar double gave us one of the first things to feel good about baseball in quite some time.
John Smoltz heads to the mound to face off with ex-Braves Paul Byrd and his nostalgic delivery tomorrow at 3:55 ET. Smoltz is hoping to rebound against his tough-luck loss last time out against the Marlins and improve upon his 2.83 ERA.