April 5th. Braves 16, Cubs 5
I need a break from writing player previews. The nontender deadline is tomorrow, and news still hasn't broke on whether or not Matt Diaz is going to be cut loose by the Braves or not. So why not take a look at some of the more memorable moments of the 2010 season? I present to you a look at the top 20 Braves wins of 2010. They are in chronological order and not ranked, because quite frankly, it would be ridiculously hard to rank them all. Unfortunately, I have no way to embed clips from MLB.com, so you're just going to have to do some link clicking. Sorry about that. Without any further ado...
Opening day in Atlanta. Phenom Jason Heyward would make his major league debut on this day. The game started horribly, with Derek Lowe allowing a first inning 3 run homer to Marlon Byrd. The Braves responded with 8 runs in the first 2 innings to knock Carlos Zambrano out of the game. After a two run homer by Aramis Ramirez in the 3rd inning, the Braves would score the game's 8 runs to win a rout. The highlight of the game was undoubtedly the monster, 476 foot home run hit by Jason Heyward on a 2-0 count in the first inning into the Braves bullpen in right field. The call on Heyward's homer was one of the best of Chip Caray's career.
CLIP: Heyward's homerApril 18th. Braves 4, Rockies 3
Jair Jurrjens held a 2-1 lead for 6 innings against a potent Rockies offense, before allowing solo homers in the 7th and 8th innings to give Colorado a 3-2 lead. The Braves loaded the bases in the 9th against Franklin Morales, and that brought Heyward up with 2 outs. He laced a single into left field to bring in the tying and winning runs, the first (and definitely not last) of his career.
CLIP: Heyward's game winning singleApril 20th. Braves 4, Phillies 3
The Braves got shut out for 8 innings, not by Roy Halladay or Cole Hamels, but by Kyle Kendrick of all pitchers. With Phillies closer Brad Lidge out, setup man Ryan Madson came in for the 9th to close it out. He walked Chipper Jones with one out, and with 2 outs, Troy Glaus hit a 2 run homer to make it a 3-2 game. Then, that Heyward kid came up again...Heyward took a strike from Madson, and bombed his next pitch over the right center field wall to tie the game. Madson would be able to get out of the 9th with a tie game. Then in the 10th, the struggling Nate McLouth delivered the highlight of his season with a laser beam homer that landed a row deep over the right field fence to complete the Braves comeback. McLouth crossed the plate to an empty dugout in one of the funnier moments of the year. The team would lose 9 straight after this win.
CLIP: McLouth's walkoff homerMay 18th. Braves 3, Mets 2
This was known as "the David Wright game" among Braves fans all season. The game went to the 9th deadlocked at 2, with all 4 runs coming by way of the home run. Rookie Jenrry Mejia would pitch the 9th for the Mets, and after allowing the first 2 runners to reach, he would face Melky Cabrera. Surely a double play would be in order, right? Cabrera chopped one off the plate to Wright, who barehanded and launched a throw to first that missed everyone and went up the right field line, allowing Brandon Hicks to score the winning run. Wright also struck out 3 times in the game.
CLIP: Wright's terrible throwMay 19th. Braves 5, Reds 4
The Braves held the Reds scoreless for 7 innings, but then they erupted for 4 runs in the final 2 frames, including a Chris Heisey homer off Billy Wagner in the 9th to tie the game at 4. Martin Prado singled off Nick Masset with 2 outs to bring up that Heyward kid again, and on a 3-2 count, he shot a double down the right field line to bring Prado home just ahead of the throw from Jay Bruce.
CLIP: Heyward doubles in PradoMay 20th. Braves 10, Reds 9
The Reds scored 8 runs in the second inning. Eight. Runs. I checked the score at work, and mentally checked out for the rest of my shift. By the time I got home, we were entering the late innings and it was 9-3. I did my duty as a loyal fan and tuned in for the rest of the game. The 9th inning came along, and the Braves were still 6 runs down. Then..magic happened. Troy Glaus and Eric Hinske singled to right to start the inning, and Yunel Escobar reached on an infield single. That brought up Nate McLouth, who brought in a pair with a long single to right. 9-5 game, and there were still none out. David Ross, in the game for Brian McCann who left when it looked to be out of hand, walked, and Martin Prado stepped in. He hit a surefire double play ball to third base, but the only thing is, Miguel Cairo double clutched and bobbled the ball and got no one. 9-6 game. Jason Heyward struck out (and if he homered, it would have made him an absolute surefire LEGEND in Atlanta), and that brought up Brooks Conrad, who came in the game for Chipper Jones when it looked like it would be a blowout. Conrad hit a moderately deep fly ball to left center that kept carrying...and carrying...and carrying, and eventually carried off the glove of Laynce Nix over the fence for a walkoff grand slam, to complete the Braves massive comeback. Nearly everyone I polled on Twitter named this as their favorite Braves win of 2010.
CLIP: The Braves insane 9th inningMay 31st. Braves 9, Phillies 3
What's so special about this game? It was a lopsided game with no late inning comeback, smack dab in the middle of a 9 game Braves winning streak. Well, this win gave the Braves sole posession of first place, which they would hold until the beginning of September when everyone and their mother would end up getting hurt. The Braves started scoring with 3 in the first, highlighted by a Chipper Jones home run, and wouldn't look back. Tommy Hanson allowed only 3 hits in 6 2/3 too just for the hell of it.
CLIP: Chipper's first inning homerJune 12th. Braves 3, Twins 2
The Braves took 2 out of 3 in Minnesota from a game Twins team, and this game featured one of the coolest ways I've seen to take a lead in the 9th inning. With speedy Gregor Blanco on third base and 1 out, the Braves needed a run pretty bad. Captain Clutch (before he was Captain Clutch) Conrad was at the plate, and of course, there's only one call you can think of at a moment like that: a squeeze, of course, Conrad's bunt was perfect, and Blanco scored the game winning run.
CLIP: Conrad's perfect squeeze buntJune 19th. Braves 5, Royals 4
This game took place on my 24th birthday. After being at a beerfest all day, and going out for a steak dinner before the game, I wanted a damn good win. What I got was the Braves blowing a 3 run lead to send the game to the bottom of the 9th tied at 4. Troy Glaus would step up as the first batter of the 9th and send me to bed happy with a majestic homer. It was probably the last great moment for Glaus on the season before his knees started to give out.
CLIP: Glaus' homerJune 26th. Braves 4, Tigers 3
I was watching the big play of this game in my friend's Jeep on the way up to Rhode Island to visit a friend. The Braves couldn't do anything against Max Scherzer all game, and when he finally got pulled and Joel Zumaya got put in, it was time for runs. With the Tigers clinging to a 1-0 lead, Zumaya would put on Blanco and Prado with walks to bring Chipper up with 2 outs. Chipper got a 100 mph fastball, turned on it, and absolutely DEMOLISHED it, nearly up to the Chophouse in right center field. The Tigers made a game of it in the 8th and 9th, but the Braves would hang on to get the win.
CLIP: Chipper's mammoth homerJuly 6th. Braves 6, Phillies 3
This was a long, 11 inning game that saw the Braves blow leads of 1-0 and 3-2. Yunel Escobar led off the 11th with a single in what would be his final week as a Brave, and the very next batter, Matt Diaz, doubled him home to give the Braves a 4-3 lead. Eric Hinske would bring in Diaz with a homer to give Billy Wagner a little more breathing room in the bottom of the inning. The Braves used 7 pitchers during the game, and the horrible Jesse Chavez got the win.
CLIP: Diaz's doubleAugust 10th. Braves 4, Astros 2
This was the game where the Braves season was turned upside down. Of course, I'm talking about Chipper blowing his knee out. Jurrjens threw 7 scoreless, but allowed a pair in the 8th to give Houston a 2-1 lead. It looked like it would be another stomach punch game.
Conrad was in the game to replace Chipper. He wasn't even supposed to be playing. But he came up in the 9th with Alex Gonzalez on, who reached on an infield single. And of course, Conrad homered to right field to give the Braves a 3-2 lead. Glaus would add a homer a couple batters later for insurance.
CLIP: Conrad's go ahead bombAugust 11th. Braves 8, Astros 2
Tommy Hanson got hosed in this game, allowing only an unearned run on 4 baserunners in 7 strong innings. The Braves had a 2-1 lead in the 9th, which Billy Wagner promptly blew, allowing Hunter Pence to score on a sac fly to send the game to extras. Apparently, that was enough to wake the Braves bats up. The team would score 6 runs in the 10th, highlighted by a Brian McCann pinch hit grand slam to right to put an absolute stamp on the game. Talk about making a statement.
CLIP: McCann's grand slamAugust 20th. Braves 5, Cubs 3
Derrek Lee's Braves debut. Aramis Ramirez drove in 2 of the Cubs 3 runs, and the Braves couldn't do much of anything against Ryan Dempster. Thankfully, Carlos Marmol pitched the 9th. Of the first 5 batters he faced, none made contact: he walked 3 of them, and struck out 2 of them. With the game on the line, new Brave Rick Ankiel stepped in, looking to do SOMETHING to endear himself to Braves fans. He did something alright, tripling into the right field corner to clear the bases and give the Braves the lead. Billy Wagner slammed the door shut in the 9th for his 30th save of the season.
CLIP: Ankiel's tripleAugust 22nd. Braves 16, Cubs 5
Slightly bizarre that the Braves beat the Cubs 16-5 twice this season, but baseball is a funny game like that. This was Lou Piniella's last game as Cubs manager, and the Braves sure sent him out in style. Omar Infante and Heyward went absolutely bonkers, combining to go 8/10 with 8 runs, 8 RBI, 2 walks, and 3 homers. Oh, and Mike Minor was absolutely dominant on the hill, striking out 12 Cubs while only walking one in 6 innings of fantastic work. It was just an absolute asskicking.
CLIP: Minor strikes out 12August 29th. Braves 7, Marlins 6
The Marlins led 6-1, and I was frustrated, so I went to the grocery store to get some provisions. I come home, and we've got a ballgame. The Braves would score 6 runs over the final 2 innings to get a huge comeback victory over their hated South Beach rivals. Matt Diaz tied the game in the 9th with a pinch hit 2 run homer, and Brian McCann would win it with 2 outs with a homer that got reviewed, and eventually upheld for the first review of a walkoff since the league implemented replay.
CLIP: Diaz's game-tying homerSeptember 11th. Braves 6, Cardinals 3
A Fox national game that I didn't get, so I was stuck listening to the radio broadcast for this one. It was a back and forth game that would head to extras. Craig Kimbrel pitched a scoreless 12th and Alex Gonzalez would hit a walk off three run homer in front of a packed Turner Field to give the Braves a solid victory, and put them in a tie for first in the NL East.
CLIP; Gonzalez's walk off homerSeptember 19th. Braves 6, Mets 3
The Mets took 2 early runs off Derek Lowe, and the Braves clawed back to a tie game with the bases loaded in the 7th inning for Derrek Lee, who was pissing a lot of Braves fans off because he wasn't clutch enough or something along those lines. He was plenty clutch on this Sunday, launching a go ahead grand slam into the second deck at Citi Field. Worth noting: 2 of the 4 runs Lowe allowed during September came in this game. Craig Kimbrel picked up his first major league save in this game.
CLIP: Lee's monstrous grand slamOctober 3rd. Braves 8, Phillies 7
Final game of the regular season. Possibly Bobby Cox's last game. The Phillies drew first blood with a pair in the third, but the Braves would score the next 8 runs off of the dregs of the Philly bullpen. But they, they started battling back, and got 5 runs in the 7th and 8th. Billy Wagner was called on in the 8th for the first time all season for a multi inning save. He'd get it after a perfect ninth. The Padres would lose to the Giants that evening, and the Braves were heading to the playoffs for the first time since 2005.
CLIP: Wagner ends the gameOctober 8th. Braves 5, Giants 4
The final win for the 2010 Braves. I was watching this game on my phone at a friend's house, because his TV was broken. Not the best time for that to happen. The Giants jumped out to a 4-0 lead, and the Braves slowly started chipping away, getting 1 in the 6th and 3 in the 8th, tying the game on a two ru Alex Gonzalez double. The Braves made a horrifying move in the 10th inning, putting Troy Glaus, his bad back, and his exploding knees at third base after a double switch. Billy Wagner would come in, get hurt, and be relieved by Kyle Farnsworth, who loaded the bases. It looked over for the Braves, and then Buster Posey shut the door with a grounder to Glaus, who fielded and went to second instead of going home. The move paid off, as the Braves turned the around the horn double play to get out of the inning and keep hope alive. Then in the 11th, Rick Ankiel bombed a homer into McCovey Cove to give the Braves the lead and the win after Farnsworth set the Giants down in the bottom of the inning to preserve the win.
CLIP: Ankiel bombs one into the bay
Well, that was a real fun look back at the season. I hope I linked to the right clip for each game. Hope you all enjoyed that 2500 word look at some of the best wins of the season...