Sunday, April 7, 2013

Game 2 Recap: Cubs 4/6/13 aka WALKOFF!

This game had all the makings of a "fold up the card table and head home" kind of outcome. The Braves gave up the lead early, tied it early, and then gave up a huge lead in the middle. Teheran wasn't sharp at all, looking completely different from his spring training form. He gave up 8 hits, 5 runs, and 2 homers in only 5 innings. Simply put, he was throwing too many strikes in the heart of the plate, and the Cubs were punishing him for it. However, the bullpen started bailing water in the 6th, and to their credit they never gave up a single run after Teheran departed the game. That would prove especially valuable when the Cubs loaded the bases in the 8th with no outs, but the bullpen combo of Varvaro and Gearrin shut them down with no damage.

There's an old superstition in baseball that talks about loading the bases with no outs. The theory goes that if you load the bases and get absolutely nothing, the opposing team in the next half inning goes on a big rally. Is it really true? I can say for a fact it certainly inspires a momentum swing to the other dugout, but a big inning may not occur every time a team fails to score with the sacks packed. HOWEVER, in this case it absolutely happened. In the bottom of the 8th, after the Cubs stranded their 3 runners, the Braves went on a tear. Justin Upton doubled, Freddie singled to score him, Dan singled, Laird walked, and Pena (with the bases loaded and one out) made the Cubs pay with a 2 run single. So, in the 8th alone, the Braves plated 3 runs to draw within one run of a tie.

Enter Carlos Marmol, the closer that wasn't. With BJ up first in the 9th, mired in an early 0-16 slump, Braves fans were about to get a small slice of magic. On a 3-1 count, Marmol had to throw a strike to keep the leadoff runner off first. BJ was ready. Bossman Jr crushed that on a no-doubter over 420 feet to center field to tie the game. Fans go out of their minds! His second hit as a Brave was a game tying bomb in the 9th! But were the Uptons done? No, no. Justin comes up after a Heyward pop fly, and gets into an early 1-2 hole against Marmol. However, Marmol made a huge mistake. He threw a strike to Justin when he had a pitch to waste. 419 feet later over the center field fence, the Braves laid claim to a 6-5 win, and left the Cubs thinking, "What just happened?" The Uptons just happened.

Did we hit well enough to win that game? In the end, yes. We had 12 hits, with 6 coming in the last inning and a third. Justin Upton had 2 bombs, and he holds the current MLB lead for homers at 5. He also had a double in his 3/5, 2 RBI day. In fact, most of the lineup had hits except for Heyward. It's just that we weren't stringing them together in the first 7 innings. The Braves RISP was 2-7, which explains a lot about our early struggles. What matters in this case is that we recovered late from our bad start. Also, give a ton of credit to the bullpen for continually holding things close when the game looked dire. If that lead get to six or seven? We had no shot.

The CPA escapes with another win by walkoff, going to 3-2 on the season. Let's see what it thinks about today's tough pitching matchup:

CPA Prediction Game 3: Braves 4 - Cubs 3

The CPA likes our chances for the sweep as long as we can work counts off Samardzjia and get to the Cubs bullpen, which has shown a lot of weaknesses. Huddy needs a good bounce back game, so look for him to pitch to contact and roll over the Cubs batters. Great conditions today, and it should be a good day for baseball.

GO BRAVES!


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