Sunday's Braves/Phillies game was mind-blowing!! I hope all those who left early learned a valuable lesson. That lesson? You never, ever count the Atlanta Braves out of it. Know why? Because the Braves never believe they're out of it until the final out is made.
Chipper Jones said it best in his on-field interview after he hit the walk-off home run.
"Thank you to all these fans for sticking around and believing in us. For those that left, shame on you, you missed a great one."
Yes they did. Sure, it started off miserably. Not just dropping the first two games of the series, not just the five runs that the Phillies put up in the top of the first, but the night itself was totally miserable. Very hot, very humid, very summer in Atlanta.
Paul Maholm had a very rough (and a very short) outing. It happens. But still, the Braves didn't give up and they chipped away. If not for that last at-bat, Reed Johnson would have been the Braves's MVP, driving in one run in the second inning and two in the sixth.
The top of the ninth foreshadowed the excitement to follow when Peter Moylan took the field in his second game back. He didn't disappoint! In the bottom of the inning, the Braves did what every little leaguer is taught to do. They played small ball. And it paid off in a huge way!
Yes, a lot of folks left early. The Braves were down by four with Jeremy Horst on the mound and Jonathan Papelbon on the way in. Yes, it looked grim. But you don't give up on your team. And seriously, why not stay? It wasn't late, most people didn't have to get up for work the next morning, the kids didn't have school and, at that point, you're already going to be sitting in some traffic. So why not stay? I know one thing for sure. Those who left early and heard the end of the game on the radio, huge regrets.
Those who left missed smart at-bats from Paul Janish, Reed Johnson and Michael Bourn. What did that do? It set a beautiful table for Martin Prado and he brought the Braves two runs closer.
And then the stars aligned. In the next at bat, yet another chapter was written in the Chipper Jones storybook season. I don't even have to tell you what happened. No doubt you've seen replays. And if you're one of the people who left early, every time you hear the call, it makes you feel sick to your stomach. You missed the moment.
Me, I feel great! That's because I didn't leave. I never leave. The Believers, we stay. We chopped, we chanted, we jumped, we screamed and then we hugged. In fact, I hugged a total stranger! No one wanted to leave. No one wanted that feeling of euphoria to end. It was shades of the early '90's, happening 20 years later. It's just as sweet and as exciting now as it was then.
If you want to see it one more time or watch it over and over again, here's a clip of the game winning home run. The hit is courtesy of Chipper Jones. The video is courtesy of the Atlanta Braves.
A few cool stats:
- The game winning home run was Chipper's first hit versus Jonathan Papelbon. He was 0-2 lifetime facing Papelbon, with one strike out.
- This hit was Chipper's 228th game-winning RBI, which is the most among active players.
- This is the second time this season that Chipper has hit a walk-off home run to beat the Phillies. The previous time was on May 2nd at Turner Field.