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The Atlanta Braves lost this game. And I won't say any more than that because, in my opinion, the Brewers sure didn't win it, despite Dave Bush's quality outing. Bobby Cox's team committed three errors in the first inning and set the tone for the entire game until the bottom of the ninth. Mark Teixeira's heroics wouldn't be enough though, only blemishing Salomon Torres' ERA, not his current save streak.
With ground ball pitcher Charlie Morton taking the mound, it was clear the Braves would need some sure handed defense if they wanted to keep the Brewers off the board. Two pitches into the game, it was pretty clear that wasn't going to happen. Rickie Weeks followed up his stellar game yesterday with a pitiful performance of trying to pull outside pitches. In the first inning, though, there was a vast nothingness at the shortstop position, where the usually sure-handed Yunel Escobar often stands. After Rickie reached on Escobar's error, J.J. Hardy singled to left, bringing up Ryan Braun. Braun would promptly single to the right side allowing Rickie to score, but an error by Jeff Francoeur allowed JJ to advance to third. This would turn out to be a big moment for the Crew. After a harmless flyout by Prince, Corey Hart hit a soft dribbler to the left side for a fielder's choice, which under normal circumstances would have left runners at the corners. Instead, Hardy would score, leaving the game at 2-0.
The Brewers would play a little small ball to get their third run in the second inning. After a Jason Kendall single, Dave Bush would bunt him to second. This again turned out to be important as Rickie ripped a routine double play ball to short, that turned out to be only one out. This allowed JJ Hardy an AB with RISP, which he took an advantage by promptly doubling over the head of Brandon Jones, who COMPLETELY misplayed the ball. Outfielders get the benefit of not being called for errors on routine balls, as long as they don't touch them.
Jason Kendall would start this process all over again in the fourth with a walk, stolen base, sac bunt and sac fly to make the game 4-0 for Dave Bush who did well tonight. Bush avoided the long ball and the free pass, which have been his Achilles' heal on the road, en route to a fantastic outing. When the game was complete, his line read 7 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, BB and 5 K, which is a nice follow up to his near no-hit outing last week.
But that line makes it seem like this one was a no brainer, which was not the case at all. After picking up a run on an RBI groundout in the seventh, the Braves took on the Brewers lights out closer, Salomon Torres in the ninth. Since taking the ninth inning role, Torres has been almost perfect, but tonight, he faltered and just could not find the strike zone. He started the ninth with a walk to Kelly Johnson, starting him out 3-0. This mistake was seen by Mark Teixeira who sat dead red on a first pitch fastball and took it to the opposite field for a two run blast. This turned a comfortable three run lead into a one run nail biter with nobody out.
To make things worse, Brian McCann would follow this up with a single, putting the tying run on first with nobody out. After a sac bunt by Omar Infante to put the runner in scoring position, Torres would bare down and get Jeff Francoeur to ground out. And this is where the excellent call came in by Ned Yost. After Yunel Escobar was tossed from the game in the fourth inning and Cox using two pinch hitters and two pinch runners, only one batter is left on his bench. That man is back-up catcher Corky Miller, who is batting .100 on the season. As a result, Ned would walk Brandon Jones, who is batting over .300 on the season, and put the go-ahead run at first. That's risky business, but come on! Corky Miller? After battling the strike zone again, Torres got Corky to line out softly to short to preserve a 4-3 victory.
Game Changing Play:
After Prince Fielder was too slow to bend over on a ball by Gregor Blanco, Yunel Escobar would single to put runners on first and second with nobody out in the fourth inning. Kelly Johnson then lined out to Prince Fielder who dove for Yuniel Escobar in a bang bang play that went the Brewers way. Bobby Cox did his best to get out there to prevent his shortstop from getting tossed, but he was too late and Escobar was gone. The play could have gone either way, but Escobar getting tossed put Cox in a bind. With Chipper Jones limited to pinch hitting and not allowed run the bases, Cox would be forced to use a pinch runner if he gets on, which he did later. In the end, he ran out of subs and Escobar getting tossed put him there.
- The Brewers played a terrible game tonight and got away with another victory. That seems to have a happened a lot this year. It makes me wonder how long they'll be able to get away with it or if they'll start playing a good baseball like they have over the last week or so.
- Interestingly, every team in the NL East is on a two game losing streak and the Brewers are a game ahead of the division leading Philadelphia Phillies.
- The Chicago Cubs got their first look at the future without Carlos Zambrano. They lost 7-5, breaking a 14 game home winning-streak. This puts the Brewers only 5.0 GB from the NL leaders, though St. Louis won, keeping that gap at 1.5 GB.
- Eric Gagne through a scoreless inning in his rehab assignment on Tuesday night. He's probably one or two outings away from coming back into the 'pen. Say goodbye to Mitch Stetter until the next injury.
What's on Tap?:
I can't believe I'm saying this, but the Brewers are going for a series sweep against Braves tomorrow afternoon. It would be a fantastic way to start the road-trip, but is it going to happen? Jeff Suppan will need to get it done against Jorge Campillo if it is so.