Free Baseball: Patient Braves fashion dramatic comeback to beat the Giants in extra innings

giant bravesOn a muggy night in Atlanta, the Braves opened a three-game series with the visiting Giants at 7:10 pm– actually a bit before then, by our watches– Monday. Atlanta’s starter, Mike Foltynewicz must’ve missed the memo, though, because he spent about an hour of game time serving batting practice to the San Francisco hitters, who responded by bombing fly balls to the deep reaches of Turner Field, netting them three homers to left, one to center, and a 6-0 lead by the fourth inning.

The rain that fell amidst the sunshine– likely the prompt answer to a desperate prayer from Foltynewicz, who, unbelievably, was sent back out to pitch the fifth and sixth innings– seemed to cool the Giants’ bats and, eventually, nurture the opposite effect for the home team. In the bottom of the sixth, Jace Peterson’s three-run homer halved the Giants’ lead, and (remember this name) Adonis Garcia’s follow-up double chased San Francisco starter Matt Cain. A Nick Markakis RBI single scored Garcia, and the Braves ended their productive sixth inning having trimmed the Giants’ six-run lead to two.

Atlanta would edge even closer in the next inning, thanks to a solo shot from the once and prodigal BABIP king Chris Johnson, but a two-out rally in the top of the ninth allowed the Giants to extend their lead to 7-5.

Two San Francisco relievers later, the Braves were down to their final out, trailing by two with no men on. Johnson kept his team alive with a hard-hit single, and A.J. Pierzynski’s third hit of the night landed in the outfield seats, tying the game and sending it to extra innings. (So far as the internet was concerned, though, Pierzynski would outdo his big night at the plate with this attempted frame job behind it on a pitch that only umpire Vladimir Guerrero would’ve considered calling a strike.)

Their comeback seemingly leaving them out of gas, the Braves appeared lifeless on offense as both teams played scoreless tenth and eleventh innings. When the Giants forced the issue by plating a run in the top of the twelfth, courtesy of a Buster Posey RBI single, it was tough to imagine that Atlanta– which had never lead at any point in the twelve-inning game– could go to the comeback well one more time. We would not have to wait long to find out whether they could.

Peterson, whose three-run blast first put the Braves on the board, lead off the bottom of the twelfth by sparking a sign of life for Atlanta when he reached on an infield throwing error, and the next batter, Garcia, quickly struck the mortal blow, a two-run, walk-off homer to seal the comeback victory.

It’s tough to imagine a more exciting baseball game to attend, and, twelve hours later, I haven’t been able to do so.

The Giants and Braves play again this afternoon at 4:10 pm.

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3 thoughts on “Free Baseball: Patient Braves fashion dramatic comeback to beat the Giants in extra innings

  1. In other baseball news from yesterday, this report from the minor leagues:

    Hitter of the Day: Mike Hessman, 1B/3B, Tigers (Toledo, AAA): 2-5, R, HR, BB.
    By now you’ve probably heard the story. You’ve almost certainly heard Hessman compared to Crash Davis, the iconic character that Kevin Costner played in Bull Durham. And while that Hollywood performance creates a certain mystique, Hessman’s real-life story lands far short of Susan Sarandon’s company or even a coaching stop in Visalia. It certainly deserves so much more attention than the novelty mention on Twitter that it received.

    Hessman’s home run on Monday night was the 433rd of his minor-league career, setting the all-time mark. It will be dismissed because it’s the minor leagues, and because Hessman hit just .188 in 250 major-league plate appearances, and spent almost his entire career on buses in the minor leagues. But he made it to the majors and you didn’t. And he has over 5,000 plate appearances in Triple-A and you don’t. And neither do I, despite every effort I could put forth.

    We all play until the game tells us we’re no longer good enough. For some of us, that’s at 12. For others, that’s in high school. For me it was at 22, after a successful college career, but still short of my dream to be a professional player. It’s a cruel game, no matter how much we love it, and some of us are hanging on to every last thread of it that we can grasp.

    But Mike Hessman, at age 37, is still playing. He may be a career .232 hitter in the minor leagues, but he’s still playing. No one has hit more home runs in minor league baseball than he has, and that’s a hell of an accomplishment. It’s a testament to one man’s desire to continue to play the game he loves, and he should be applauded for that.

    Congratulations, Mike, and on behalf of all of us, please keep swinging.

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