With the score tied 4-4 in the bottom of the 9th, Royals manager Ned Yost opted to bring in Robinson Tejeda instead of his dominant closer, Joakim Soria. While many managers would do likewise--lord knows how many times I've seen Bobby eschew his closer in a tie game on the road--it was undeniably a stupid call. "Saving your closer for the save situation" usually results in a team losing without even using its best pitcher. Such was the case tonight.
It sure didn't take long for the Braves to capitalize on Yost's blunder. Troy Glaus, the first batter of the inning, launched a home run down the left field line, winning the game for Atlanta. Glaus' clutch homer set off a remarkably mild version of the "surround the guy at home plate" walkoff celebration. It seems that the Braves have learned the lesson of Kendry Morales: don't break your star first baseman's leg after he hits a walkoff homer. Seems like a wise choice.
Kris Medlen pitched very well for the first 6 innings, but struggled in the 7th. Starting the inning with a 4-2 lead, Meds gave up a leadoff single to Mike Aviles, followed by a double to Yuniesky Betancourt (of all people). That left runners on 2nd and 3rd with no outs. Medlen was able to retire Zack Greinke, but was pulled in favor of Eric O'Flaherty. Medlen's final line: 6.1 IP, 5 H, 4 R (3 ER), 2 BB, 5 K, and a -0.007 WPA.
EOF had a bit of a tough outing. He got the first batter, Scott Podsednik, to ground out, but a run scored to make it 4-3. That brought up helium-hitting Jason Kendall, who singled in the tying run. Both the runs were charged to Medlen.
Peter Moylan had to come on to get the last out of the inning. Jonny Venters pitched a scoreless 8th, and Billy Wagner worked a scoreless 9th to pick up the win.
Royals starter Zack Greinke was not dominant, but he was pretty good. He gave up 2 runs in the first, but those were aided by a passed ball and an error. The only ball that was really smoked was Brian McCann's homer leading off the 4th.
After the Royals had closed to within 3-2, Greinke was victimized by the awesomeness of Jason Heyward. J-Hey, who had led off with a single and moved to second on a Chipper Jones single, pulled off a Carl Crawford-like play to steal a run. Troy Glaus hit a ball up the middle that Yuniesky Betancourt made a great diving play on. After Betancourt threw to second to force Chipper, Heyward sprinted around third and slid easily into home. He never stopped running, and when the Royals didn't realize what he was doing right away, he was home free. Don't you just love it when a guy scores from second on an infield out? I sure do.
Though the Braves did not hold that lead, they did score 4 runs off of Greinke, which has to be considered a success. Greinke's final line was 7 IP, 6 H, 4 R (3 ER), 1 HR, 0 BB, 5 K, and a -0.121 WPA.
Nothing like a walkoff homer to seal another series win (that makes 13 straight series without a loss). The Braves have now won 13 of their last 14 at home, too.
Some fun Braves facts and tonight's Awards after the jump...
Before I get to tonight's Awards, here are some fun Braves facts:
- Martin Prado now leads the NL in batting average by 17 points over Andre Ethier (.340 to .323)
- Prado is the first player in MLB to reach 100 hits (Robinson Cano has 99)
- Troy Glaus leads the NL in RBI (55, 2 more than David Wright)
- and most importantly, the Braves now have the best record in the NL (41-28, 1.5 games better than the Padres and Mets) and the best run differential in the NL (+64)
Glaus-- 1/4, HR, R, 2 RBI, 0.514 WPA
Prado-- 2/4, 2B, R, GIDP, 0.114 WPA
Chipper-- 2/4, R, RBI, 2 K, 0.020 WPA
Heyward-- 1/4, R, no strikeouts, and the awesome play to steal a run (only an 0.009 WPA, but I don't care)
Wagner and Venters-- 2 IP, 2 H, K, and 0.224 WPA total (0.125 for Wags, 0.099 for Jonny)
Ned Yost (for going with Tejeda instead of Soria)
Tejeda-- 0 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 HR, -0.375 WPA
Billy Butler-- 0/4, -0.143 WPA
MVP in a Losing Effort
David DeJesus-- 3/4, 2 2B, 0.135 WPA... Dude can hit.
Glaus' homer (0.375 WPA)
Chipper striking out with the go-ahead run on 3rd and 1 out in the 8th (-0.151)
Jason Kendall grounding into a double play to end the Royals' 9th (-0.128)