Braves 5, Giants 4
Series tied 1-1
WP: Farnsworth (1-0)
LP: Ramirez (0-1)
In the interest of full disclosure here...I did not watch this game. I had a prior commitment, and was keeping tabs on the game through MLB.TV and Twitter on my phone. Naturally, after the first 2 innings with the Giants throwing 4 runs on the board...I was a little distressed. Tommy Hanson allowed a first inning, 3 run bomb to Pat Burrell, and an RBI single to opposing pitcher Matt Cain in the second. Hanson's evening was done after 4 innings and 61 pitches. He allowed those 4 runs while striking out 5 and only walking 1. After Hanson left, the Braves bullpen stepped up huge like they have all season: 7 shutout innings, 5 hits, 1 walk, and 8 strikeouts. Every member of the pen got used aside from Cristhian Martinez. The two guys who stepped up the most were Craig Kimbrel, who struck out 4 in 2 innings of work, and Kyle Farnsworth, who relieved an injured Billy Wagner in the 10th, loaded the bases without a hit, and got Buster Posey to ground into an inning ending double play (to Troy Glaus at third base, of all people). Farnsworth slammed the door shut in the 11th to preserve the victory.
The Braves offense struggled early on once again, not getting the first run until the 6th inning. The Braves stranded 6 men in the first 5. But finally in the 6th, they broke through after a Derrek Lee single, advancing to second on an error, and a Brian McCann single to drive him in. First run is always the tough one. The Braves would strike again in the 8th. Lee and McCann led the inning off with singles again, and the Giants brought in ace closer Brian Wilson. Wilson's first batter faced was Melky Cabrera, who reached on a Pablo Sandoval error to bring in Lee and make it a 4-2 game. Brooks Conrad sacrificed to bring up the ice cold Alex Gonzalez...and of course, he doubled into the left field gap to tie the game. Gonzalez would die at second, however. The Braves went down quietly in the 9th and 10th before the 11th inning came around, and the much maligned Rick Ankiel came to the plate. Naturally, Ankiel hit a bomb of a homer into McCovey Cove to give the Braves the lead and eventual victory.
It was a weird, fluky night for the Braves...midseason acquisitions Gonzalez, Farnsworth, and Ankiel all came up huge for the team. Just like Frank Wren drew it up, right?
Bad news came out of the game, however. Billy Wagner has a strained oblique, and will miss the rest of this series as well as the NLCS if the Braves get there. Huge loss. HUUUUUUUUUUUGE loss for this team. Wagner has been one of the best relievers in baseball this season, and not having him at the back end of the game is going to hurt. I'd assume Craig Kimbrel will take over closing out games, but its anyone's guess at this point. As for who replaces Wagner on the roster? I have no idea. Kenshin Kawakami? Takashi Saito if he's healthy? Saito would be the best option, but only if he's 100%. If someone like Kawakami gets the call, it would be just another arm in the bullpen that wouldn't get used. That's not what this team needs at this point, especially after the way the pen got used last night.
The Braves are off today, and the series resumes in beautiful Atlanta tomorrow afternoon at 4:37 PM. Tim Hudson takes the mound for the Braves, against Jonathan Sanchez for the Giants. This is a game the Braves can easily win...they really need to get the win tomorrow, and put themselves in a position to close out the series Monday with Tim Lincecum going for the Giants.