Phil Gosselin didn't enter tonight's game against the Reds until the ninth inning. Little did we know that he'd end up having the biggest impact on the entire game, as his efforts at the plate and on the basepaths ended up putting the Braves in a position to end up stealing a victory in Cincinnati tonight.
The game got off to a pretty late start, as heavy rains ended up delaying the start of tonight's contest by nearly two hours. Once the game finally got underway, it didn't take the Reds long before they got on the board. In the second inning, Shelby Miller immediately ran into trouble. The first two batters he faced both reached base with singles, then Kristopher Negron took one for the team and got hit. That loaded the bases for Tucker Barnhart, who promptly hit a sacrifice fly to center field to bring in Brandon Phillips for the game's first run.
As it turned out, that'd be the only run that Shelby Miller gave up tonight, as the righty managed to weave together another gem of a performance. Miller went seven innings, only gave up three hits, and struck out eight. At one point, Miller retired 15 Reds in a row. Any time you can do that is lovely, and any time you can hold a team to only one run in this particular ballpark, you have to be pleased. I'm sure that everybody sympathetic to the Braves' cause was extremely happy with yet another solid performance from Shelby Miller.
On the other side of the ball, the Braves scored the first run of their game in the fourth inning, and it came from an absolute bomb of a homer from Andrelton Simmons. Simba turned on a 91-mph cutter and sent it over the center field fence for a solo homer, tying the game at one. After this happened, the Braves had the bases loaded with one out. Unfortunately, in a scene that was similar to what we saw plenty of times in 2014, the Braves failed to bring in any runs, and had to settle for a tie game at that point instead of a potential lead.
In the sixth inning, the Braves managed to once again load the bases with only one out. Once again, the Braves came away from that situation empty-handed, even though they arguably should've gotten at least one run from it. A.J. Pierzynski was called out at home on a somewhat questionable call.
Regarding the replay: Official saw no violation of home plate rule & that runner was tagged prior to touching home plate. Call was confirmed— Kevin McAlpin (@KevinMcAlpin) May 12, 2015
Like I mentioned earlier, the seventh inning was Shelby Miller's last. With that being said, it definitely didn't come without a close call. With a runner on first, Jay Bruce absolutely crushed one into right field. The ball seemed to be headed towards the stands, and it looked like the Braves were about to fall behind late in the game yet again. Fortunately, Nick Markakis was able to snatch the ball right at the wall. He kept it from going over the fence (or into a fan's hands), and kept the game tied at one. Shelby Miller exited the game shortly afterwards, and that loud out became a distant memory.
Aroldis Chapman entered the game in the top of the ninth inning, and he came into tonight's contest trying to start a new streak of scoreless appearances after having a pretty lengthy scoreless streak broken by the Chicago White Sox in his last appearance. Instead, Chapman has now given up a run in his last two appearances. This happened thanks to Phil Gosselin sparking a rally. I'm pretty sure that smart money would've been on Chapman winning any sort of duel against Gosselin, but instead, Goose was able to hit a 100-mph heater from Chapman right up the middle for a single. After two pickoff attempts, Nick Markakis blooped one up the middle to move Goose to second base.
While Chapman paid Gosselin plenty of attention while Goose was on first base, he didn't pay Goose much attention when he was on second base, and it ended up coming back to haunt him because Gosselin actually stole third base. Then, Chapman did one of the worst things you can do with a runner on third base: He threw a wild pitch. It was a 103-mph wild pitch to be exact, and any time a wild pitch is coming in that hot, there's no way that the catcher is going to get to it. Phil Gosselin scored pretty easily, and the Braves took the lead for the first time all night.
After the Braves went down to end the top half of the inning, Jim Johnson made his entrance (which spared us of a Trevor Cahill appearance. Thank you, Phil Gosselin. Thank you, Aroldis Chapman.). Johnson's save attempt went off without a hitch, and just like that, the Braves ended their losing streak.
Anytime you can get a run off of Aroldis Chapman, you have to be happy. The fact that it came from Phil Gosselin getting a hit, stealing a base, and scoring on a wild pitch was an absolute stunner. The Reds might feel hard-done by that series of events, but I'm pretty sure that you guys probably don't care about the Reds right now. You care about the Braves, and the fact of the matter is that the Braves stole a victory tonight. I'm not complaining, though, and you shouldn't be complaining, either. All types of victories count the same in the standings, and we will never complain about any that come the Braves' way.