Monday, May 19, 2014

Game of the Day (5/18/14)

Braves 6, Cardinals 5. Gavin Floyd, who I didn't remember joining the Braves (and who was making only his third start with the team), faced Jaime Garcia, who I did remember being a Cardinal, but who hadn't been one in almost a year thanks to injury.

Freddie Freeman spoiled the first inning of Garcia's return with a two-out homer. Floyd allowed a single to Matt Carpenter and a walk to Kolten Wong, then stranded them at second and third. Garcia was perfect in the second, and Floyd nearly escaped the inning as easily; a Matt Adams single was cancelled by a double play, and Peter Bourjos struck out. But Gerald Laird failed to secure strike 3, allowing Bourjos to reach first. Garcia followed with a single, Carpenter walked to load the bases, and Wong unloaded them with a three-run double to take the lead.

Both starters were perfect in the third. Justin Upton halved the lead in the fourth with a leadoff homer, while Floyd hit Garcia with a pitch and walked Carpenter before Wong hit into an inning-ending double play. Garcia was spotless in the fifth, and his teammates restored the lead to two in the bottom of the inning when Matt Holliday and Yadier Molina singled and Adams hit a sac fly to make it 4-2. But in the sixth, Jason Heyward singled, Upton doubled him to third, and Freeman singled them both home to even the score at 4.

Floyd combined with Alex Wood on a scoreless sixth despite a Bourjos single and a Carpenter walk, and Garcia was flawless in the seventh. In the bottom of the seventh, Molina singled with one out, and a two-out Jhonny Peralta double put St. Louis back in front. Kevin Siegrist and Pat Neshek worked a scoreless eighth between them, and David Carpenter put two runners on (a Matt Carpenter single and a Wong HBP), but a double play from Holliday helped him keep the game close.

Trevor Rosenthal took the mound in the ninth for the save situation, and started the inning by allowing a Freeman single. Chris Johnson struck out and Andrelton Simmons popped up, but Ryan Doumit doubled, putting the tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position, Evan Gattis was intentionally walked to load the bases, and Jordan Schafer walked as well to force in the tying run (which is the oft-ignored downside of the intentional walk to load the bases). Carlos Martinez replaced Rosenthal and immediately threw a wild pitch to score Doumit with the go-ahead run. Craig Kimbrel allowed an Adams single and threw a wild pitch moving him to second in the bottom of the ninth, but recorded the next two outs on a strikeout and a popup to end the game.

The star of this one, you may have noticed, was Freddie Freeman. He was 3 for 3 with a homer and a hit by pitch, scoring two runs and driving in three. His home run opened the scoring, his two-run single tied the game in the sixth, and his leadoff hit in the ninth set up the decisive rally. Freeman's efforts established no new career highs; they just won the game for his team. That's one way to recognize a star - they can win you a game without doing anything out of the ordinary.

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