Coming into the game, there was certainly a lot to be concerned about. The Braves are the third highest scoring offense in the National League, and they've done that by hitting home runs- 47 of them, to be exact. With Joe Saunders taking the mound, I admit that I was less than optimistic about our chances...
Okay, I might have been thinking, "Oh, no, not again..." when Saunders had the Braves sitting at first and second in the first inning with only one out. But Saunders, surprisingly, came through, got the outs without allowing the runners to advance, and we avoided more first inning horror.
The Braves, however, didn't escape so easily. Julio Teheran, the Braves top-rated prospect, according to Baseball America, managed two easy outs, but Justin Upton worked his way to a full count and then crushed a changeup to left field to give the Diamondbacks a quick 1-0 lead.
The offense threatened through the first few innings, but just had problems getting the runner in to score. They left runners stranded on second and third in the second, and then left Stephen Drew on second in the third inning. Fortunately, they were finally able to break through with two outs in the fourth inning. A single left Miranda sitting at first with two outs, but Saunders was able to make a little contribution to his own cause, singling to keep the inning alive. Ryan Roberts finally broke through with a two out single to bring Miranda in to score and push the lead to 2-0.
On the other side of the game, Joe Saunders was giving us a pretty solid outing. The Braves had a single in the second, but Saunders kept getting outs, and Atlanta didn't put another runner on until the fifth inning. The fifth inning looked like it could be rough, with a single and a walk to start the inning, but Saunders worked two ground balls, including a double play to end the inning, and stayed out of trouble.
The sixth inning, though, was when the Colonel's luck ran out. A single and a double gave the Braves two runners in scoring position with no outs. But where luck ends, the Parrazooka steps in. The Braves broke up the shut out with a deep sacrifice fly to left field, but Parra made one of the best throws of the season, gunning down Chipper Jones when he tried to take third base on the sacrifice fly. After a walk to Dan Uggla, a single dribbled to the outfield off Drew's glove. Uggla proved he hadn't been paying attention earlier in the inning and tried to take third base, where Parra made another fantastic throw to end the inning. Two fantastic plays meant that inning wasn't nearly as bad as it could have been, and the Diamondbacks left the inning with a lead, 2-1. Really, guys, if you didn't see the game, go watch the highlights on the DBacks website. They were great throws.
Saunders was pulled for the seventh inning, and took a seat on the bench, hoping for his first W of the season. Alas, Joe, it was not to be. Esmerling Vasquez came in from the bullpen, and proceeded to walk the first batter he face. A fielder's choice left Nate McLouth on first with one out, and Vasquez gave up a double to Brooks Conrad. McLouth scored, and Conrad took third on the throw, then scored on a sacrifice fly from Martin Prado.
Heading into the seventh inning, down 3-2, and Ryan Roberts lead off with a walk. You know how those leadoff walks go, but sometimes it never goes easy. A Kelly Johnson sacrifice moved Roberts to second, and then Scott Proctor bounced a pitch in that got away from the catcher. Roberts took third and, seeing the Braves hadn't found the pitch yet, just turned the corner and took home to tie the game. Call him Boxcar or Tatman, whatever you like, but he's the Dread Pirate for me, because he completely stole that run.
From that point, it was a battle of the bullpens. The Diamondbacks had an early edge, sitting the Braves down 1-2-3 in the eighth, ninth, and tenth innings. But while the Braves relievers would bend- the DBacks had the go ahead run in scoring position in both the eigth and ninth- they just wouldn't break, so we found ourselves heading into extra innings.
The tenth went quickly, with neither side getting any further than home, but it was in the eleventh that we started seeing some action. Aaron Heilman came out of the bullpen and promptly gave up a leadoff walk to Chipper Jones. After a fly out, what looked like an inning-ending double play grounder by Uggla was deflected off Heilman's glove. A great play by Kelly Johnson got the lead runner in a rundown and out at third, but Uggla took second on the play. A single to center brought in the go-ahead run for the Braves, and we were down to our last three outs.
With the lead, the Braves turned to their closer to finish out the game, and we were faced with the prospect of getting runs off of Craig Kimbrel, a guy with a career ERA+ of 296. And, as you expect from your 2010 Diamondbacks, they folded and went down 1-2-
Oh, wait! That was last year! Your 2011 Diamondbacks? Hey, they're at least going to make an effort. And they did. After a quick groundout for Parra, Russel Branyan, in at first for Juan Miranda, came up and laced a single to right field. Josh Wilson came in to pinch run, and Ryan Roberts came to the plate. He slapped a pitch that was deflected by Kimbrel. No time to make the play at second, Dan Uggle threw high to first, and Roberts, having gone full speed down the line, just made it in time to beat the throw. One out, tying run in scoring position.
It was all smooth sailing from there. Kelly Johnson, still working through his early season struggles, slapped a grounder to right field to tie up the game, and move Roberts to third. Justin Upton came up and bounced a gorunder to second, no time to make a play, and it was celebration time. A nice rally by the offense, and we get another one of those vaunted one run wins we hear so much about.
A nice game, and a pretty good performance all around. We might want more innings from our starter, but only giving up 1 run is a decent start, by any measure. Some good defense, especially by Parra and Drew, who made a great inning-ending grab in the eleventh, and our bats did enough to win it all.
Also Awesome: Ryan Roberts, 41.6%
Stricken from the record: Esmerling Vasquez, -33%
A pretty active thread, rolling past 750 around the time we were babbling with happiness. justin1985 took top honors, with clefo and Rockstarr12 tying for second place. Also stopping by were Bryan J. Boltik, snakecharmer, hotclaws, Sprankton, pygalgia, justin1985, DbacksSkins, kishi, Clefo, Jim McLennan, brian custer, BattleMoses, Rockkstarr12, rapdawg, asteroid, NASCARbernet, xmet, Zavada's Moustache, piratedan7, Jdub220, blank_38, Gravity, JustAJ, TinySarabia, Husk, blue bulldog, Gibbysdad, Baseballdad, imstillhungry95, Backin'the'Backs, Skii, shoewizard, Wailord, and Muu.
Comment of the night was locked away as soon as Clefo gave his recap of the Dread Pirate scoring from second on the wild pitch: