Do you like extra innings games? The Braves certainly do! We're 3-0 now in extras, and for some reason the team is finding a way to keep games close even if we're down in the late innings. The difference in this game was that Jason Heyward went yard in the 12th to give us the 9-7 lead, and the Cardinals had no answer. Also, for once we actually pitched around Beltran late in the game instead of letting him kill us with a walkoff. It only took 6 ABs for us to get the right idea on that. Here's a clue Fredi, if you stop pitching to Beltran, we win that game 7-3 in the 9th. STOP PITCHING TO BELTRAN!!!
Anyway, a win's a win, and it wasn't a win we expected. However, in a true matchup of #1 v. #2 in NL offenses, both lineups came up large. 4-12 with RISP for the Braves? Yeah I'll take that all season, win or lose. Heyward, Chipper, Uggs, and Bourn all had a multihit game. Bourn seems almost impossible to keep off the bases right now. I'm biased, of course, because he's probably my favorite player on this team, but I absolutely love a great leadoff guy in the lineup. There is nothing better in the majors than having a man in the lineup who can work counts, cause havoc on the bases, and make starters work extra hard even when they get an out. Bourn went 3/6 seeing 29 pitches. When you are seeing at least 5 pitches an AB, an entire lineup with that approach could run a starter to 100 pitches in the 5th with a few hits and walks sprinkled in there.
So who is the MVP of the game? Heyward seems the obvious choice for his extra inning smash that gave us the lead. So does Livan for getting out of TWO bases loaded jams in the late innings to keep the game alive. However, I'm going to give the MVP to Yadier Molina. Now, I'm sure you're thinking, ok Ben. He's a Cardinal, why in the hell does he get the MVP for the Braves??? Well folks, he helped set the tone for the offense. We had the bases loaded in the first inning, and Yadier Molina (the gold-glover who beat out Brian McCann) let not one, but TWO runs score on balls that got by him to the backstop. In an inning where we didn't get a hit with RISP, Molina gift-wrapped two runs and the early lead to us. That helped get our offense going and run up Garcia's pitch count so he was gone after 5.2 innings. The Cardinals bullpen did the rest to let us back in the game. Considering that I think BMac is twice the catcher that Molina gets credit for, it was nice to see Yadier help us out. Thanks, buddy! You deserve it! For once.
As a side note, that may have been the most confusing umpiring job I've ever seen behind home plate. Nobody had ANY clue what counted as a strike. The hitters didn't know, the catchers didn't know, the pitchers didn't know, and I'm not even sure Muchlinski was sure when he was calling them. When he rang up Hinske on the checked swing, I was pretty sure that big gorilla was going to rip his fat head clean off. Fredi didn't even have time to get out to the box before Hinske got tossed, and he almost got pegged with a bat for his trouble. There's a solid chance Hinske could get suspended for a game or two for that display. Not that he was wrong, mind you, but you can't go full rager on the ump and then almost peg your manager with some flying wood.
Anyway, on to Game 2! As I said in the preview I actually like this matchup better than last night, so I think we have a chance to take the series tonight if we can put up a similar hitting performance. Get out there and score some runs, guys!