Rick Ankiel Makes a Splash
All hope seemed to be lost in the bottom of the 9th inning in Friday nights game.
Edgar Renteria led the inning off with a bunt single to newly inserted third baseman, Troy Glaus. Renteria took advantage of Glaus’ bad knees, but no one else would. Thank goodness for that.
Billy Wagner injured his oblique on the next play, which was a sacrifice bunt advancing Renteria to second base. Enter Kyle Farnsworth. The same guy who gave up a 6-1 lead in the 2005 NLDS against the Houston Astros.
So, he’s not exactly held in high esteem by Braves fans, yet Farnsworth was one of two guys left in the Atlanta bullpen. The other, Cristhian Martinez, was in the bullpen for a reason. He was the last resort. Still, despite the deserved dislike of Farnsworth, he has pitched well for the Braves after a shaky start.
Farnsworth promptly hit Giants second baseman, Freddy Sanchez, upon entering the game. Things would get worse. Aubrey Huff would coax a walk out of Farnsworth to load the bases.
One out. Bases loaded. All hope fading for the Braves. The kid, Buster Posey, was coming up to the plate. It was meant to be for the Giants.
After an infield meeting, Troy Glaus motioned to second baseman, Omar Infante, that he would be coming his way on a ground ball hit to third.
The gods spoke. It was not meant to be for the Giants. Posey bounced a grounder to Glaus. Without hesitation, Glaus fired a throw that was slightly off line to Infante. Lucky for the Braves, it was the Giants catcher running to first. Infante made a terrific turn at second and completed the double play to end the inning.
After a ground out by Alex Gonzalez to start the top of the 11th,Rick Ankiel stepped up to the plate. Ankiel, the 31-year old pitcher turned outfielder from Fort Pierce, FL, who had managed just a .210 average, .389 slugging percentage and 42 strikeouts in 119 at bats for the Braves.
Ankiel can usually be seen swinging at everything within reach (most of them out of reach) with all of his might.
Rick Ankiel finally connected, stealing the Giants hearts in the process. He crushed a 425 foot solo homer into the bay to give the Braves a 5-4 lead.
Farnsworth would retire three of four batters in the bottom half of the inning to complete the victory.
Ankiel said afterward that it was the “pinnacle of everything he’s ever done”. This quote via an article from Dan O’Brien. Several good quotes in that article.
“It’s hard to describe or put into words. The biggest homer of my career, by far, and to be honest with you, I wanted to go from the batter’s box to the dugout. I didn’t want to run the bases. I wanted to be with the guys.”
The Braves completely swung momentum in their favor in a series that was looking quite bleak entering the 8th inning of Game 2, trailing 4-1.
It was the same resilient Braves team that we have seen all year long.
I was glad to see that Bobby Cox’s ejection in the 2nd inning didn’t go to waste. The umpire who made the call at first base was the same umpire who missed a critical call at 2nd base in Game 1 of the series. I think Bobby’s frustration was a combination of what he thought was a bad call at first and the blown call from Game 1. The play was so close at first base, I never could tell if the correct call was made or not.
The Braves took all of the momentum out of San Francisco after a dreadful performance in Game 1, and straight back to Atlanta where the Braves hold the best home record in baseball. It puts the Braves in a prime position to take this series.
Tim Hudson takes the mound today against LHP Jonathan Sanchez for the Giants. Sanchez has been less than impressive against Atlanta in his career, going 1-3 with a 6.00 ERA (.290 BAA), but he has been lights out in the second half of the season this year.
Bobby Cox said he is considering using Lowe in Game 4 instead of rookie RHP, Brandon Beachy.
That would probably push Hanson to a Game 1 start against the Phillies/Reds winner. First pitch is set for 3:30 pm CST at Turner Field.
Notes from Other Divisional Series Games
- The Yankees completed their sweep of the Minnesota Twins last night with a 6-1 win. The Yankees outscored the Twins 17-7 in the series and it marks the 4th time this decade that the Twins have been eliminated by the Yankees. Not what Twins fans wanted to see from this team.
- Tampa Bay took Game 3 in Texas on Saturday. The Rays expanded on their 3-2 lead with a three run 9th inning to win the game 6-3. Today, Tampa Bay is on the verge of taking Game 4 and evening the series up. It’s only the 6th inning, but the Rays have a commanding 5-0 lead behind a very sharp Wade Davis. Tampa Bay has the best road record in the majors at 47-32 and they are showing that in this series.
- Philadelphia looks to complete a sweep of the Reds today. The Phillies took advantage of the Reds mistakes on Friday to come from behind and take Game 2. It was very uncharacteristic of what is normally a good defense. The Reds miscues resulted in a 7-4 loss.
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