With his 11th inning shot into McCovey Cove, Rick Ankiel was the hero for the Braves in Game 2. (Justin Sullivan/Getty)
The clutch plays came from unlikely sources tonight, but nobody in Atlanta will complain. First, Alex Gonzalez’s two-run double sent the game into extra innings. From there, the Braves relied on a gutsy pitching performance from Kyle Farnsworth, some tricky defense by Troy Glaus (at the hot corner for the second time all season), and a very long, very loud, game-winning homer from Rick Ankiel to tie the National League Division Series at 1-1.
Farnsworth entered the game in the bottom of the 10th, after Billy Wagner pulled his oblique muscle on an Edgar Renteria bunt single. Wagner pitched to one more batter, but doubled over in obvious pain after fielding a sacrifice bunt. The word on Wagner’s injury is a pulled oblique, so it’s doubtful he pitches again this series. This is obviously terrible news. Barring a minor medical miracle, Craig Kimbrel and Johnny Venters will probably shoulder the bulk of the late-inning work from here.
As for the ejection, think it’s a coincidence that Cox was ejected by the same ump who made the erroneous call on Buster Posey’s steal attempt in Game 1?
“Well, I brought that up,” said Bobby, when asked about it in the post game presser.
After two innings, it looked to be a long night for Atlanta. Tommy Hanson never struggled with his control early, and left a mistake fastball up to Pat Burrell with two runners on. The 3-run homer was bad enough, then in the next inning, Hanson gave up another run, this time a single up the middle from pitcher Matt Cain. Not gonna lie, with the Braves mired in a 15-inning scoreless streak, I thought that the 4-run lead was insurmountable.
The players believed though, and more importantly, Chino Cadahia believed. He believed in every player who the fans were no longer able to trust. Chino put his faith in the scapegoats, the easy targets, the guys who get ripped endlessly in the press, the guys who nobody believed in. Much has been made about what is missing from the Braves’ lineup, and what the Atlanta hitters can’t do. Credit to them for not listening.
Now, the Braves head home with an even series, and nominal ace Tim Hudson ready to pitch for Game 3.
After 15 innings of sorrow, things are suddenly looking up.