With Chipper Jones on crutches, Jason Heyward on the bench and Rick Ankiel batting second despite hitting .083 over his previous eight games, the Braves once again played out that final scene from “Carrie,” when Sissy Spacek’s hand punches through the dirt of her grave site.
They scored four runs.
In one inning.
As Don King once opined, in all of his promotional glory: “I have risen from the great media pallet of death!”
At some point, it’s not just smoke and mirrors. There must be a third element involved with this team. Eye of newt, perhaps?
The Braves, having accounted for all of two runs and nine hits in the two games following Jones’ season-ending knee surgery, punched through the dirt Sunday. With their divisional lead down to a near hiccup, they drilled the Los Angeles Dodgers, 13-1, at Turner Field, once again elevating this spare-parts team to a new level of resiliency.
Not dead yet.
There are still 45 games left in the season, so this isn’t a time for grand proclamations. But at the very least, the Braves fired a warning shot in the direction of anybody who believes they’re about to fade.
When Jones showed up Sunday, the day after his surgery, he said he still believed the Braves were a postseason team, while punctuating his remarks with a seemingly obvious observation: “We’re not going to blow anybody out 10-1.”
When the Braves scored the first of four runs in the eighth inning to take a 10-1 lead, his quote looked like a setup line.
“As a hitter, you can’t think, ‘Oh we didn’t hit because Chipper’s not here,’” Brian McCann said.
Still, consecutive one run performances figured to be close to the norm the rest of the season. This wasn’t the ‘27 Yankees even before Jones’ injury.
Jones reaffirmed he believed the Braves were still a playoff team, saying: “Our pitching can keep us in 90 to 95 percent of the games. It’s just a matter of somebody coming up with the big hit whether we win or not. We’re not going to blow anybody out 10-1. We’re going to play a ton of 3-1, 2-1, 4-2 ballgames in the next month and a half and we’re going to have to win our fair share of them.”
He watched Saturday’s 2-1 loss to the Dodgers at home with his family and found himself playing the role of an anguished fan.
“Every pitch we took down the middle, I was like, ‘Oh, just swing the bat,’” he said.
“I was just sitting there, saying, ‘It’s gotta happen right here. This might be our last shot.’ I know the struggles we were having even when I was in the lineup. Not having me in there [to help], I really saw it on some of the faces of the guys that they’re pressing. You’ve just got to relax and do what makes them successful.”
They did. Once again. The 13 runs was the second most of the season. The 16 hits tied a season high. Every spot in the order had a hit. This was minus Jones, Heyward, Martin Prado and all of the fizzled projected starters not worth recounting right now.
Forget the tomahawk. This team’s new logo should be a turnstile.
Troy Glaus: Also not dead again. He drove in four runs (including a three-run homer).
Rick Ankiel: He entered the game in a 2-for-24 slump but reached base three times with a single and two walks.
Alex Gonzalez drove in four runs. Omar Infante had three hits and scored three times.
Jurrjens had one hit. Slacker.
OK. He also threw seven strong innings. Then he probably spoke for all Braves’ starting pitchers: “We’re just trying to put zeroes on the board. We know we’ve been having some trouble scoring runs the past couple of games and we’re just trying to keep the game close.”
Maybe 13 runs and 16 hits will prove to be an aberration. Maybe 2-1 games will be the norm. But there’s still a pulse.