One series after having let a 13-3 lead in Game 1 of the ALCS slip away, the Atlanta Braves nearly let a 10-2 lead at Miller Park evaporate.
The reason for the stunning comeback was a boomerang-like kind of meltdown. With some Chipper Jones-style foreshadowing, Jose Bautista, who hit two home runs in the ALCS and came into the game 6-for-12 with a homer in the postseason, smacked an RBI double in the fifth.
The A’s got another inning later, on another single from Bautista. And then in the sixth, the exclamation point: Matt Chapman crushed a home run off Braves closer Arodys Vizcaino, who had faced eight batters that inning.
In an effort to save wiggle room, Braves manager Brian Snitker brought in Arodys Vizcaino in the bottom of the seventh. Why? “Because at this point, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to have him pitch for 11 pitches and take a five-run lead.”
Well, Vizcaino, who was then charged with an error and gave up a run, walked the game’s final two batters to load the bases and force Vizcaino out of the game. Relief pitcher A.J. Minter came in and eventually got the final two outs to end the game.
The story was just the latest example of why, for all their control and genius, the Braves are still too unpredictable to be too taken seriously.
Before the game began, Dodgers players could barely hold back the giggles and trash talk they saw on television. “I think I liked Nick Pope more than I like Tom Koehler,” was how Dodgers pitcher Alex Wood described his friend, the Braves starter, after yesterday’s Game 5 defeat.
Later, there were plenty of players with some pointed comments about Atlanta and the stigma that goes along with it.
It was kind of sad,” Dodgers pitcher Rich Hill said before the game. “What a team they are. I still don’t want to face the Braves.”
The Giants and Cubs are faring better with the stigma attached to them.