Extra innings, ejections and out-of-the-park homers — that’s the post season baby, and I’m lovin’ it!
Braves manager Bobby Cox is known for backing his guys and arguing calls funtil he gets thrown out. Friday night was no exception.Cox may be on his way out as manager, but he’s gonna do more than just show up. He’s in the game whole heartedly each and every game, each inning and play.
Friday Cox got ejected in the second inning of Game 2 of the National League Division Series against the Giants at AT&T Park, marking the 161st time in his 29-year career and third in the postseason he’s been tossed out of a game. Forget instant replay. Cox sticks with what he believes to be the correct call, regardless how many others disagree or the fact that his vehmet defense and questioning or rulings is almost guaranteed to get his ejected from the game. If just one time it helps his boys, so much the better.
I was a bit apprehensive at seeing Cox tossed out. The last time Cox was ejected during the postseason was Game 6 of the 1996 World Series. The Yankees came back from a 2-0 deficit and won that series in six games. Cox was also ejected from Game 3 of the 1992 World Series against the Blue Jays, who also won in six games. While I was cheering for Cox’s grit tonight, I was also poised afraid to voice the thought: please don’t let that be ominous for the rest of the game and division series.
It seemed to take Cox’s ejection and an error by the Giants before Cox’s guys started stepping it up for him. Don’t get me wrong, I love my team, but I’ll be the first to admit when they’re performing at less than their best. (In fact, my neighbors can attest that the Braves got told off each time they failed to deliver for their team, and a few pillows and other odd object might have flown a time or two too.)
At 4-0 the first half of the game, I was beginning to wonder if the boys had decided to just lay down and die. I’d have been more impressed if they’d just forfeited the first 1 1/2 games.
Thank goodness they finally decided to come to the game in the fifth inning and to really begin playing with heart in the eighth. In inning six they got one run, and in the eighth the boys got three more, tying it up at 4-4. That’s more like the guys I know and love. As long as they don’t let it go to their heads and get too cocky, they’ve got a shot at winning the NLDS and fighting for a ticket to the Big Show.
This is exactly why I love this team. When they bring it, these guys really pull out all the stops. They are long known (regardless the names on the roster) for pulling it out late in the game and fighting their way from way behind to the top. Wouldn’t be nearly as impressive or as satisfying a win if it were gotten too easily. Make ‘em work for it. Give ‘em a reason to play, and they'll give you a great show.
Gotta admit, it was odd hearing them talk about Javier Lopez and seeing a very fair skinned guy on the mound in a Giants uniform as opposed to behind the plate catching for the Braves. Both Javier (Torres Lopez and Javier Alfonso Lopez were born in the Puerto Rico, are close to the same height and build.
My Javy, Javier (Torres) Lopez, was born in 1970 (exactly 6 years and 1 day before me. He was signed by the Braves in 1987, made his MLB debut as a catcher in 1992, and played his last MLB game in 2006 in a Red Sox jersey. A catch, my Javy, also was right-handed.
The Lopez on the mound this weekend, Javier Alfonso Lopez, was born in 1977. He was drafted by the Arizona Diamondback in 1998 and made his major league debut as a pitcher in 2003. He’s been affiliated with five teams: the Red Sox, Rockies, Pirates, Diamondbacks and Giants in that time. He is a southpaw all the way.
To tell just how long I’ve been a fan, when I hear Cabrera, I still think Francisco before my brain remembers they’re talking about 26-year-old Melky Cabrera who debuted in 2005 as a left fielder. Francisco Cabrera played ball from 1989-1993. I’ll never forget his ninth-inning, two-out single brought in a sliding Sid Bream, the winning run in Game 7 of the 1992 NLCS against the Pirates; the 26-year-old was awarded the key to the city of Atlanta after that game. The win sent the Braves to World Series, where they faced the Toronto Blue Jays, the team that gave Francisco Cabrea his MLB start.
And how about that Rick Ankiel?! The Braves 31-year-old fielder hit it out into the bay in the 11th, breaking the 4-4 tie and bringing in the game winning run. Hot dog! Ankiel also made some great catches, holding the Giants to 4 runs and tying the division series at 1-1 headed back to Atlanta.
Let’s hope these are the guys that bring their best to Turner Field Sunday night. It could very well be one heck of a game.
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