I learned a very important lesson last night. Prior to the start of our first series against the Philadelphia Phillies I penned a blog pondering the whereabouts of Troy Glaus, Nate McLouth and Melky Cabrera 12 games into the season. Glaus and McLouth answered me loud and clear in game 13 in one of most unbelievable comebacks in the history of the Braves franchise.
With two outs in the bottom of the 9th inning, it looked like the Braves had let a game they were "supposed to win" get away from them. Their play was uninspiring through eight and Tommy Hanson had two of the worst breaks I have ever seen in two check-swing doubles. Phillies starter Kyle Kendrick had his best outing of the young season, only allowing 4 hits and walking 2 with 2 strikeouts in 8 innings.
With Ryan Madson on the mound to start the 9th inning, it was Chipper Jones that got it started with a walk. Brian McCann couldn't come through and things were looking bleak. Troy Glaus, who was heavily booed in the bottom of the 4th after hitting into a bases-loaded double play, did what he had to do. He jacked one right out of the Ted to give the new face of the Atlanta Braves franchise another chance for a magical moment.
We all know what Jason Heyward is capable of doing, but he could he save the day two games straight? Could the 20-year-old Rookie literally put the Braves on his back and turn a loss into a win? Yes he sure could! Heyward blasted a solo shot right out of the ball park to take us to extra innings and give Nate a chance to gain some confidence with a blast over the right field wall in the bottom of the 10th.
The resilient Braves with their second improbable win in as many games. My lesson - this team is different. The 2010 Braves are not the Braves that have missed the playoffs since 2006. This team is making a statement they are ready to challenge the Phillies (and the Marlins) for the division crown. Just as I regret calling out players on such a small sample size, I'm not suggesting they are shoe-ins for the playoffs. However, this team has a lot of heart and character. Two things that are a must for a championship team. Just when the Braves came back to win the series after being embarrassed in San Diego and how they came back from a sloppy no-hitter to take the series from the Rockies, they did what they had to do to steal one from the Phillies.
What a great year it is to be a Braves fan. The final season of one of the greatest managers of all-time combined with the first season of the new face of the franchise. Add in clutch hitting, heart and character and it's going to be a lot of fun to follow for the next six months. Last night's "clear the dugout" prank on Nate goes to show the team is enjoying it just as much as the fans. Now it's onto an even stronger task with Roy Halladay taking the mound for the Phillies in a nationally televised game and while Halladay has been nearly unhittable, I'm confident this Braves team can take him down.
To conclude, below are some stats of interest courtesy of the Twitter page of Atlanta Braves beat writer David O'Brien:
- In Ryan Madson's last 10 games against the Braves, he has a 10.08 ERA and .400 batting average allowed.
- The Braves have the third-most RBIs from the first-base position in the national league with 11.
- The Braves are 5-3 despite hitting only .215 over last eight games.
- Two of the Braves' late HRs by Glaus and McLouth, came from players hitting a combined .164 with only 1 extra-base hit in 73 ABs before those HRs
- Jason Heyward is 1-17 (.059) with 2 RBIs in the Braves' five losses
- Heyward is 13-30 (.433) with 14 RBIs in the Braves' eight wins.
For more from the stat-savvy David O'Brien, click here.