To a Braves’ season long-since devoid of any logic or certainly a blueprint, we add this from Sunday:
♦ Starting pitcher Derek Lowe getting mangled for five runs in the three innings but somehow escaping a loss, even if possibly confirming his postseason fate as a $60 million long reliever.
♦ A team, down 6-1 and held to three hits in the first seven innings, rallying for three runs in the eighth (two coming when Florida’s first baseman dropped a throw for the would-be third out of
the inning) and three in the ninth (an opposite field, game-tying, two-run homer by pinch hitter Matt Diaz, and a walk-off winner by Brian McCann that few were certain of when seen live).
♦ McCann’s homer? It originally was called a double but changed to a homer after umpires consulted video replay and saw the ball bounce off the right-field wall, just above the yellow line. It’s the first time in major league history a game ended on a replay. Of course.
McCann waited at second base for over a minute, an atypical rest stop for a home run. After the ruling, he rounded the bases, spiked his helmet about six feet from home plate and finished his trot home.
“I didn’t know what to do,” he said. “I got lost in the moment.”
The Braves aren’t so much on a road to the postseason as they are floating in a lifeboat in swirling winds, but seemingly drifting in that direction. The 7-6 win over Florida – and there is improbable video evidence to confirm it – was their 23rd win of the season in their final at-bat.
“It wasn’t looking good for a long time, [given] the spot I put the team in,” Lowe said. “I dug quite a hole.”
As it turns out, he probably only buried only himself.
If the Braves make the playoffs for the first time since 2005, manager Bobby Cox has a decision to make. It’s now an easy decision. His three starting pitchers in a five-game divisional series seemingly are obvious: Tim Hudson and two other guys not named Derek Lowe (Jair Jurrjens and Tommy Hanson).
Lowe needed to make a statement Sunday about his postseason worthiness. He did. It was just the wrong statement.
It took him 23 pitches to record an out. That came after a walk, a single, a three-run homer by Hanley Ramirez that left vapor trails and a double by Dan Uggla that left a dent in the left field wall.
Lowe allowed five runs in three innings before being pulled. It was his shortest outing of the season. His 78 pitches played out like an afternoon of root canal.
His ERA in his last eight starts: 4.91. After a stretch in which he had eight “quality starts” — three runs or fewer in six or more innings – in 11 outings, Lowe has only three quality starts in his last 10. Recent problems by Jurrjens and Hanson notwithstanding, it’s really not close who’s No. 4 in the pecking order.
Lowe said he had problems “gripping” the ball. Throwing wasn’t so great either.
Cox: “He just couldn’t locate.”
Lowe denied he was injured but he was seen shaking his right hand as he left the mound in the third.
Quote: “Nothing [wrong]. I didn’t have very good command. … No pain. Just bad pitching.”
Then he cracked: “Go with cramps” [as an excuse].
As for the future, Lowe didn’t concede his potential bullpen role in the postseason but he hardly debated the possibility.
“Time will tell as far as the guys we use and where they pitch,” he said. “In a perfect world, you pitch Hudson as many times as you can.”
And then this: “I don’t feel like I need to prove anything. I didn’t feel like I was here to audition. When you have a good rotation, somebody is going to be left out. But I’m pretty proud of my postseason history, even though it’s been a couple of years. But we’ll see.”
Nothing seemingly can disrupt the Braves’ mojo. But if the Braves make it to the playoffs, Lowe’s view may be from the bullpen.
DID YOU MISS . . .