Braves beat Phillies 9-6 in an utterly bizarre game

Brian Garfinkel

The Braves, led by Dan Uggla and Evan Gattis' two home runs apiece, won their first game against Philadelphia in an unbelievably strange contest.

Wow. I don't know if there are words to describe what happened between the Braves and Phillies at Citizens Bank Park tonight, but I'll do my best to try.

This game started off in a completely conventional way, as Ervin Santana and Roberto Hernández dueled for 6 innings. After six innings, the Braves led 2-1 on the strength of a two-run Evan Gattis opposite field home run, which Hernandez surrendered in the top of the sixth inning. Philadelphia's lone run off of Ervin Santana, who pitched brilliantly, came courtesy of a Ryan Howard solo shot. Santana spun a gem, striking out 11 Phillies over 6 innings of work with only two walks and four hits allowed.

The seventh inning was uneventful as well, as Mario Hollands pitched a scoreless inning in relief for Philadelphia, and Ian Thomas and Anthony Varvaro combined to do the same for Atlanta.

The eighth inning is when the game began to take a turn for the weird. B.J. Rosenberg relieved Hollands, and proceeded to give up back-to-back-to-back to Evan Gattis (his second of the game), Dan Uggla, and Andrelton Simmons. He predictably departed the mound at CBP to a raucous chorus of boos, but Luis García limited the damage and got three outs in the top of the 8th without further drama. The Braves looked to be comfortably in control heading into the bottom half of the frame leading 5-1.

In the bottom of the eighth, Fredi González summoned Luis Ávilan to face Tony Gwynn Jr., Jimmy Rollins, and Chase Utley. Ávilan had a horrific outing, exacerbated by González's reluctance to remove him from the game when things began to snowball. Ávilan walked Gwynn and surrendered singles to Rollins and Utley, loading the bases. Although he froze Ryan Howard on a outside 1-2 fastball to retire him on strikes, he then gave up a 2-run single to Marlon Byrd to draw the Phillies to within 2. For some reason, González left Ávilan in the game to face Domonic Brown, who took him deep for a 3-run homer to put Philadelphia on top 6-5. Ávilan eventually escaped the inning, and the Braves went to their last chances at the plate looking to mount a rally.

Philadelphia closer Jonathan Papelbon was unavailable tonight, so Ryne Sandberg opted to go with Jake Diekman as his closer du jour. Diekman walked BJ Upton on four pitches to begin the frame, and then Freddie Freeman reached on a poor decision by second baseman Chase Utley, who made an ill-advised flip to second in an attempt to retire Upton. Instead, all hands were safe, and the bases were then promptly loaded as Diekman issued a walk to Justin Upton. Diekman managed to strike Evan Gattis out, and another curious managerial decision occurred as Sandberg opted to leave the lefty Diekman in to face Dan Uggla. Uggla made him pay, mashing a hanging slider 15 rows deep into the left-center field stands, putting the Braves on top 9-6.

David Carpenter closed out the bottom of the 9th, as Craig Kimbrel was unavailable due to shoulder soreness, which was revealed in the post-game interviews, without much in the way of drama. He recorded the save as the Braves won one of the strangest games I've ever seen, 9-6. I'll let the win expectancy chart, courtesy of Fangraphs, tell the rest of the story:

Source: FanGraphs
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