It's a shame that so many Braves fans missed the game tonight. It was wild and one of the more thrilling and rewarding wins of the season.
Tommy Hanson made his return to the mound and battled control issues early before settling in and dominating. He tossed six innings and allowed six hits and three walks, all while giving up three runs to the weak-hitting Mariners lineup. Most of the damage was done in the first two innings, though, and Hanson gave up just one hit after the second inning.
Michael Pineda started for the Mariners and was great before a meltdown in the seventh inning. Pineda dominated the Braves' lineup for the first four innings before making a mistake to Dan Uggla, but settled in nicely once again and continued his good work before losing command later on in the game. He ended up tossing 6.1 innings and allowed five runs (four earned) on just four hits. His downfall came courtesy of the walk, including three in the seventh. He struck out five.
So now that I've teased the seventh inning about five times now, I guess I should let you know what led up to the inning. Ichiro Suzuki lined the first pitch of the game over the right field wall for a solo-home run and Jack Cust drove in the second run of the game in the second inning on an RBI-double to the gap. Cust homered in the fourth to give Seattle a comfortable 3-0 lead.
Dan Uggla got the Braves on the scoreboard with a 400-foot home run to center field to make the score 3-1. The homer was his third in the last six games. Atlanta scored another run in the sixth courtesy of a Justin Smoak error and a little 2-out magic; Jason Heyward singled, Brian McCann singled and Chipper Jones tapped one between Smoak and second baseman Dustin Ackley. Smoak should have let the ball go through to Ackley, but instead he attempted to field the ball, which ricocheted off his glove towards the outfield grass. Heyward scored easily and the score was 3-2.
After being aggressive at the plate all night long, the Braves displayed some patience and took the lead in the seventh inning. Dan Uggla walked, Eric Hinske walked, Alex Gonzalez struck out, but Nate McLouth walked as well. With the bases loaded and just one out, Michael Pineda was lifted from the game in favor of talented left-handed reliever Aaron Laffey.
Laffey usually dominates left-handed batters, but Jordan Schafer came up with a huge RBI-single to right field to tie the game. Jason Heyward struck out swinging, but Laffey would still have to get Brian MVP McCann out if he hoped to get through the inning. McCann hit a grounder to the right side of the infield that squeaked by Ackley and Smoak and two runs came in to score as the thousands of Braves fans at Safeco Field erupted. Atlanta led 5-3.
George Sherrill was a victim of a few bloop hits and gave up a run, but with runners on the corner and two out, Scott Proctor came in and got the final out of the inning with a strikeout. Jonny Venters worked a quick eighth inning.
The Braves should have scored an insurance run in the ninth, but the home plate umpire incorrectly called Jason Heyward out at the plate. Replays showed it was a close play, but Heyward unquestionably beat the tag. The score was 5-4 as the two clubs headed to the bottom of the ninth.
Craig Kimbrel struck out Ichiro to start the inning. Brendan Ryan lined a 97mph fastball back up the middle to put the tying runner on base, but Kimbrel struck out Adam Kennedy for the second out. Justin Smoak came to the plate as the potential winning run, but popped up harmlessly to shortstop Alex Gonzalez for the final out of the game.
Braves win 5-4. Big game for the club.
The task gets even more difficult Wednesday afternoon as Atlanta will face Felix Hernandez. Derek Lowe will take the mound for the Braves. First pitch is at 3:40 as the team goes for the sweep.