Hey Buddy Can You Spare an Out?

There are times when a box score does not necessarily tell the entire story about how a game went. This was definitely the case in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series. At first glance, it appears the Braves crushed the Diamondbacks in route to tying the series up at one game apiece.

Diamondbacks fans knew going into this game that they did not have the best match-up. After all, Atlanta had perennial all-star and future Hall of Fame candidate Tom Glavine on the mound. The Diamondbacks would counter with Miguel Batista who was relatively unknown to anyone outside the state of Arizona. Given just that information, obviously the Braves should have crushed the Diamondbacks.

The way the game started did little to boost the confidence of Diamondbacks fans. With the first pitch of the game, Miguel gave up a home run to Marcus Giles. As that ball flew over the left field wall, the fans sat there in shock. Smoke from the National Anthem fireworks still hovered around the stadium. Many fans were still standing in line for a hot dog by the time the Braves had their first lead of the game. After that first fateful pitch though, something almost magical happened. Miguel Batista, a career journeyman who was spotted during winter ball and signed by the Diamondbacks did the unthinkable. He matched Glavine pitch for pitch for the next six innings. He was amazing. He shut down the Atlanta offense not allowing another base runner. By the time the seventh inning arrived, the Diamondbacks found themselves tied with the Braves 1-1 and Batista was throwing a one-hitter.

After having attended 81 regular season home games this year, the fans have a pretty good idea of what the Diamondbacks pitching staff can and cannot do. Past experience has shown that Batista is good for 6 innings but if pushed beyond that point he starts to tire and leaves the ball up in the strike zone. So when Brenly wheeled Batista out to start the seventh inning, the hometown crowd got just a little uneasy. Oh sure, things started out well enough with Miguel retiring the first two batters but even those outs were an adventure. Finally, Brenly’s luck wore out and Batista left a ball over the plate that Javy Lopez blasted off the right field foul pole. All of the hard work that Miguel had done over the course of 6 2/3 innings would be forgotten. All that will be remembered is that he lost game 2 of the NLCS. In the play-offs it is said that every moment is crucial. That was definitely the case in this game. One pitch became the difference. How different would things have been if Batista had kept the ball down in the zone to Lopez forcing a ground ball out or a lazy fly ball to the outfield?

With the game tied at one in the eighth inning Arizona might have changed their pitching decisions and the Diamondbacks bullpen would not have imploded giving up five runs. Momentum which before the Lopez home run had swung to the Diamondbacks might have brought life to the home team and allowed them the opportunity to get to Glavine or the Braves bullpen and perhaps stolen a game.

Arizona fans will be left wondering what could have been or what should have been. I only hope that at the end of this series we don’t look back at this game as the turning point for the series. Batista and the Diamondbacks played well enough to win this game. They went against the best the Braves had to offer and matched them pitch for pitch for three-fourths of the game. Although the score ended lopsided in favor of Atlanta, Diamondbacks fans still like their chances with Curt Schilling going in game 3 at Turner Field.

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