The Rolling Stones routinely opined that they can't get no satisfaction. Perhaps they'd like to borrow a little Gattisfaction? There's plenty to go around here in Braves Country. Evan Gattis has become something that stepped out of folklore and into a batter's box. He's 10 feet tall, swings a 2x4, consumes pitchers with fireballs from his eyes, and lightning bolts from his arse. At the very least, he's ridiculously clutch in a pinch hit situation. With the game looking all but lost last night in the bottom of the 9th, Gattis had other plans. Two outs, down by one, and El Oso Blanco hits a bomb 412 feet into the left field stands to tie the game. I'd love to tell you the crowd went wild, and what few were still left did, but the weekday crowd was decimated by an hour and a half rain delay. Those that stuck around got a rare treat.
Even Evan's great homer could only tie the game. The Braves needed more, and time was of the essence. In case you haven't noticed recently, the bullpen is essentially running on fumes. Fredi has been managing injuries, elbow tears, and general awfulness of select bullpen guys from the very start of the season. If the game went a few innings beyond the 10th, the Braves were going to be sending Simmons out there to pitch (he was drafted as a pitcher). Luckily, with two outs, Jason Heyward roped one to left center in the bottom of the 10th. Then, the Twins made a cripplingly stupid decision. They walked Justin Upton to get to Freddie Freeman.
Now, if you're looking at the straight stats or headlines: 1 - You know Justin is our best slugger, 2 - Justin is a righty against a lefty on the mound, and 3 - Justin is a 6 year veteran of clutch situations. That means you'd want to pitch to a lefty on lefty matchup in Freddie Freeman and the less experienced hitter, right? NOPE! If Braves by the Numbers taught you anything about RISP, Freddie Freeman is the best on the team. He's hitting .469 for heaven's sake. Justin was only hitting .179 with RISP. Freddie Freeman against lefty pitchers? He's hitting .300 on the season with 3 doubles and a bomb. It was a gigantic error on the Twins part, and they can hang that on the manager not knowing the situation. He played the percentages not knowing that Freddie Freeman doesn't play by those rules.
With the crowd chanting, "Freddie! Freddie! Freddie!" Freeman hit nothing more than a low nubber off the end of the bat to right center. Was it pretty? No. Was it a good AB? Well he took him to full and looked for an off-speed pitch. It was really lucky that he even made contact. But in the box score? PURE GOLD BABY! Freddie dumps it into the outfield, Heyward streaks around home, and the Braves pull off another unlikely comeback win. Should we have even been in that situation? Not a chance, but the rain played havoc with everything. A freak monsoon hit the field and messed up the rotations, making it a bullpen game for the most part. That's not a good thing since the Braves pen is short, and the Twins pen is better than their starters combined.
The other big star of the night that goes largely undiscussed with all the drama, was Brian McCann. BMac went 3/4 with 2 RBIs and a big homer that gave the Braves the lead in the 4th. Also it gave Braves fans money off their tires with the 4th inning homer promotion. Go get your tires if you need them! Also, in case you didn't notice, BJ Upton strung together 2 hits as well. Then he struck out twice, so it's not like he's killing it yet, but the guy isn't completely freewheeling anymore. I need more action on the ball before I can say he's heating up again, but my math skills tell me that something > nothing. Science fact.
The pitching was average. Hudson was all over the place early, but he got things together after the rain delay to pitch 5 innings with 2 runs. It's not good enough for him, but the rain wouldn't allow him to get any rhythm going. The pen was fine except for Avilan who just didn't have it. He was all over the zone, he was walking people, and he ended up getting pegged for 2 runs because Gearrin couldn't put out his fire. In combination, those two guys almost cost the Braves the game. Does that mean anything? No, it was a bad situation where the pen was supposed to go long, and we're overworking the heck out of these guys until we can get some arms off the DL. We really need the starters to go longer, and I think Hudson would have gone 7 if not for the rain. He was only 81 pitches deep in the 5th.
The CPA (24-14) was right about another win (barely), but it was way off about the shutout. Hudson wasn't really sharp, plus did I mention it rained? All analysis goes out the window when it rains. Ken Cook would agree with me on that one. Do we dream of another sweep? A double sweep?
CPA Prediction Game 3: Braves 3 - Twins 2
The CPA thinks the Braves can sweep, but what was supposed to be a drubbing has gone to a minor advantage at home. Reason? Fredi is tossing the give-up-lineup into the mix. McCann hits .300 off Worley, Justin is ripping off homers, both guys have been clutch, and NEITHER is playing today. Ugh. I understand the night/day turnaround, but we're going to have to work for what should have been an easy sweep. Hopefully CJ, Schafer, Gattis and Pena can pick up the slack.