Braves lose and stretch out the drama a little longer

Braves fans were set to celebrate Friday night but everything is on hold now.

Braves fans were set to celebrate Friday night, but everything is on hold now.

(Updated at 1:40 a.m.)

On the eve of the day his career would be celebrated, Bobby Cox typically wanted to talk about something other than Bobby Cox.

It didn’t matter that a No. 6 had been carved into the center-field grass, or that three of his cousins had made their way from Selma, Calif., or that the 69-year-old Yoda in the Braves’ dugout was surrounded by visiting media members, armed with questions about Cox’s life and career.

“Let’s just win this game,” Cox said at one point.

He has operated his entire career the same. He wants the focus on the game and his players, with him somewhere in the background. In a strange way, he may have gotten his wish.

While Cox will be center stage today, the Braves’ improbable run to the postseason just hit a speed bump Friday night. Jimmy Rollins cracked reliever Mike Dunn’s first pitch in the sixth for a grand slam, and Philadelphia — with its National League East title already secure — went on to bury the Braves 11-5 at Turner Field.

Jimmy Rollins blew open the game with a sixth-inning grand slam.

Jimmy Rollins blew open the game with a sixth-inning grand slam.

The Braves’ magic number to clinch the National League wild-card berth remained stuck at two. San Diego won at San Francisco, 6-4, closing to within one game of the Braves for the wild card and two games of the Giants in the National League West with two games left.

So much for the comfort factor at Bobby Cox Tribute Day.

The Braves led 1-0 early. They were tied 2-2 through five. Then came the frailties of a team that has long seemed one sneeze away

Omar Infante and the Braves must wait at least another day to clinch.

Omar Infante and the Braves must wait at least another day to clinch.

from traction.

With two outs and two Phillies on base, catcher Carlos Ruiz hit a ground ball to third. Brooks Conrad surprisingly decided to throw to second for the force instead of first. Omar Infante was late getting over, the throw was wide of the bag and everybody was safe. Peter Moylan issued a bases-loaded walk to Dominic Brown (.217) to give the Phillies a 3-2 lead. Then Dunn replaced Moylan and was schooled on his first pitch to Rollins. Game over.

The clubhouse was quiet afterward. Even the televisions, normally tuned to out-of-town games, were turned off.

Cox was brief. Among his comments: “We messed up in the infield. … With two outs you always go to first. We just made a bad decision.”

If that wasn’t enough, Conrad jumped on the grenade: “No excuses. I let the team down and I feel terrible. I let the team down, I let Bobby down.”

This was a surprise only in the sense that the game meant nothing to the Phillies. But everything the Braves have done this year has been with a sense of drama. Why change now?

They went into the evening knowing there was a chance to clinch their first postseason berth since 2005, but all one could think when looking down on the field was: How?

Starting pitcher Brandon Beachy was an undrafted free agent who started the season in Double A and wasn’t even on the 40-man roster when he was recalled as an emergency starter in Philadelphia 12 days ago. The lineup — of which there have been 106 this season — included only one player hitting over .278. That was Infante, who started the year as a utility player. The averages of the Nos. 4 through 8 hitters ranged from .189 (Nate McLouth) to .258 (Melky Cabrera).

How? Clubhouse chemistry and Cox.

Cox might be going out after the best managing job of his career, even better than the worst-to-first year of 1991. The misguided critics who’ve attacked him this season for the team’s slide never stopped to consider that the team wouldn’t be in this position if not for him.

“Ninety-five percent of the other clubs, if this happens to them, personnel-wise, they fold,” Chipper Jones said. “Ninety-five percent of the other managers can’t bring it home.”

Jones, who played on the 1995 World Series as a rookie season, has struggled emotionally having to watch this stretch run as he recovers from a torn ACL, but he said: “I’m probably the proudest to be on this team than all of them.

“To be honest with you, no matter how bleak it’s looked in the last month for our playoff chances, I really never felt any urgency. We all felt like this was a team that’s been through too much to let it slip away.”

There’s no reason to think it will slip away now.

♦♦♦

Last 3 posts

LIVE: Braves’ improbable road to playoffs almost complete

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201 comments Add your comment

blazerdawg

October 1st, 2010
11:23 pm

GO BRAVES!!!

bruce mac

October 1st, 2010
11:29 pm

No surprise, Melky and McLouth suck and Bobby doesn’t get it. Some things never change.

bruce mac

October 1st, 2010
11:31 pm

If Bobby starts either one of them tommorrow the fix is in. Where is Pete Rose when we need him.

JimmyO

October 1st, 2010
11:32 pm

Let’s just hope that idiot poster Kerryb doesn’t know this blogs up !

moorman

October 1st, 2010
11:35 pm

hate to be a party poop, but the phillies are PROVING that the braves are not in their class. i mean, they OWN the braves. aint even the playoffs yet, and they proving that they are the class of the national league. i hate it, but they are proving it.

Jeff Schultz

October 1st, 2010
11:40 pm

For what it’s worth folks, Bobby Cox said Brooks Conrad should’ve gone to first on that sixth inning grounder and Conrad took the blame for the play (and the loss). I’ll update with quotes shortly.

Kevin

October 1st, 2010
11:40 pm

Diaz/Hinske in Left. Ankiel in Center, at least he can make a play on the ball defensively.

Dalmore

October 1st, 2010
11:41 pm

I’m afraid it already has slipped away . . . our loss tonight and Padres beating up on the Giants, means Giants will have to take the last two from SD, because Braves simply cannot beat Phila — it’s like the JV against the varsity. We may mathematically still have a chance, but after witnessing tonight, it’ll be too painful to watch any more. Just take a quick glance at the score the following morning and try to minimize the pain.

nashvillewill

October 1st, 2010
11:42 pm

Let’s all sing Bobby’s praises while he messes up his last rodeo. I hate it when I’m right: McClumsy and Melkmessup have no business playing OF for anybody, let alone a contender. The (lack of) defense in OF and 3B cost at least 7 runs and will cost again if Cox doesn’t get it. Ankiel is the only choice in CF at this point; Diaz at least will dive or slide for balls that Melky can’t get. I think we may be stuck with Conrad, though I haven’t seen Glaus take any grounders. Surely if he fields the ball Glaus wouldn’t throw to 2B with no one there.
And what’s with Cox just throwing in the towel by pitching Minor? Let’s compete to the end and see what happens. But Cox is HOF manager! HA!
An old geology professor in college used to say,”Boys”–and there were “girls” present, too, “Boys, the truth is in the rocks!” I say, “Boys (and girls), the game is in the defense. If the Braves don’t have it, they’re done. C’mon, Bobby, give us a chance! Ankiel in CF, Diaz in LF. (Can Hernendez play 3B?). Without perfect defense we’re done.

PMC

October 1st, 2010
11:44 pm

Just win one of the next two combined with a Giants win and we’re golden.

Just one.

Hit A Single

October 1st, 2010
11:44 pm

nashvillewill – What team do you or have you managed? That is what I thought!

Bobby Colton

October 1st, 2010
11:44 pm

6-0 SD TOP 5TH FROM AT&T PARK IN SAN FRANCISCO, CA

Eric C.

October 1st, 2010
11:44 pm

The Braves face Vance Worley tomorrow and that really concerns me…any MLB pitcher concerns me right now

bruce mac

October 1st, 2010
11:46 pm

Conrad made an error, big deal. The Braves are not winning the game with that line up today, tommorrow, next week. Bobby, wake up. Put Ankiel in Center against right handed pitchers and put Hinski or Diaz in right. I know you are a great manager but holy dumb azz bat man.

Billy not Martin

October 1st, 2010
11:46 pm

I am a life long Braves fan and hope they pull it off.
But I still say Bobby is the most overated manager in baseball history.
How many mgrs would have Jason Heyward batting 2nd all year, especilally when we need rbi’s. He just doesn’t get it. Great guy I’m sure and players love him, but a very below average baseball tactician.

bruce mac

October 1st, 2010
11:47 pm

I mean left for Matty and Eric obviously.

Dr. Phil

October 1st, 2010
11:49 pm

I drove from Lexington, KY to see this game and spent a small fortune in the process. There was an energy at the ball park that I haven’t seen in some time. But this game was truly one of the worst Braves games I have seen. The only more awful one I can recall was the 23 to 3 or so thrashing handed the Braves by the Oreoles several years ago. I want the Braves to be in post season, but I fear they will only embarrass themselves and Bobby.

Dalmore

October 1st, 2010
11:49 pm

Yeah, mathematically we can win, but realistically we can’t beat these guys, and the Padres are 5-1 on the season at the Giants’ park, and are leading 5-0 in the 4th tonight. We don’t have the ability to win one more against the Phillies, and I don’t think the Giants will take the last two out there.

Hit A Single

October 1st, 2010
11:50 pm

All you Bobby Cox bashers – 14 Division Championships – Who else has done that, especially the way free agency is now?

Dalmore

October 1st, 2010
11:52 pm

We all know what happens when the Braves face a nobody pitcher for the first time . . . we make him look like Cy Young. The guy will likely spin a 1-hitter against us for the first 7 innings tomorrow. My guess, Hanson does well but we lose 3-0, maybe 3-1.

renegade#1

October 1st, 2010
11:54 pm

Why do the braves even want to win the wild card? They will only get to play 3 more games let some other team play that stands a chance! The braves really do suck and I do mean bad.

Dalmore

October 1st, 2010
11:54 pm

What good is history and 14 div titles when we’re dealing with 2010 and trying to get in this year’s playoffs?

Mitchell

October 1st, 2010
11:54 pm

Jeff Schultz

October 1st, 2010
11:40 pm

For what it’s worth folks, Bobby Cox said Brooks Conrad should’ve gone to first on that sixth inning grounder and Conrad took the blame for the play (and the loss). I’ll update with quotes shortly.

Why would he say that?

I thought he didn’t criticize his players.

This is a recent trend from number 6 and it’s too bad.

bruce mac

October 1st, 2010
11:56 pm

Hit a single, “every dog has his day” Chipper Jones.

Billy not Martin

October 1st, 2010
11:57 pm

Hey hit a single,
I think if you and I were given 14 try’s with all of those CY’s and bats over that span, we could have accidently gotten one more. THink about it; How bad do you have to be to scew it up that many times.
NO team or manager in history has that many failed attempts.

BravesFan

October 1st, 2010
11:58 pm

Troy should be playing third now. We need his bat, and his defense cannot be any worse that Conrad.

Patrick

October 2nd, 2010
12:01 am

well of course he should have gone to first. that’s called hindsight. but the ? is why wasn’t Omar covering the bag Jeff? that is vintage bobby making excuses. Like I said, 99 times out of 100 the 3rd baseman goes for the short toss to second. it won’t matter anyway as this team won’t win a playoff game and will be lucky to even make the playoffs if they do. I smell a sweep again.

BravesFan

October 2nd, 2010
12:01 am

Mitchell,,, conrad said that, not bobby

Dalmore

October 2nd, 2010
12:03 am

It’s more likely the Padres will sweep the Giants than it is we will win even one game against the Phillies.

Hit A Single

October 2nd, 2010
12:04 am

Hey Billy! You don’t have a clue, you have never been there and never will. Cox has done a great job this year with a team that has had every reason to quit, but they haven’t and that is because of consistent leadership.

Jeffrey

October 2nd, 2010
12:05 am

JS
You’re going to go on what a old senile man says?
Go look at the replays. You have access to them. That is a old hat throw to second. Omar was playing too far off and should have let gonzo and brooks know. The throw was to Omar. If it was at the bag, it’s in left field. You know how habitual plays are. That was totally a habitual throw. He had no reason to think to throw to first. Bobby is making excuses for his dreaded team and their awful play.

Steve Preston

October 2nd, 2010
12:07 am

How many managers would only win one world series with 3 of the best 10 pitchers of an era pitching for them for 12 years? More than one. Booby is an overrated senile idiot.

Ken Shelton

October 2nd, 2010
12:08 am

I still content unless the Braves ‘brain trust” judged he isn’t up to the task to handle the “hot corner” Bobby Cox needs to at least give a look-see to Troy Glaus to see if his legs are able for the long-slugger to offer the lineup some similar magic he produced in May and early June. I still contend, Bobby’s choice of a left fielder, the ‘Melky Man’ is one of the worst hitters since Greg Norton. Not only does Melky seldom produce, most of his at bats aren’t even swings where he attacks the ball with much authority. Let’s hope this seemingly magical season doesn’t end after Sunday!

TTTT-Thumbody Thed Thats Thupid!

October 2nd, 2010
12:09 am

A friend of mine who was sitting in the centerfield section said everybody around him was asking why the number “9″ was carved into the grass? Now that’s funny, don’t care who you are!

Hit A Single

October 2nd, 2010
12:11 am

Hey Steve – Ask the people that know baseball, especially at the major league level and see if he is overrated? It is easy to criticize. At least he is there to be criticized, look where you are.

LastYearAmen

October 2nd, 2010
12:13 am

Vintage Bobby Cox pressure game: Head-scratching timing of pulling good starting pitching, strange loyalty to lousy players that cost games (McOut, Melk Carton, and I’m still upset about Norton). I hope we make it, but even if we do Cabrera and McClouth will kill every rally they come across.

bruce mac

October 2nd, 2010
12:13 am

TTT, this ain’t Wrigley Dude. Your friend needs to upgrade.

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JimmyO

October 2nd, 2010
12:15 am

the number “9″ comment speaks VOLUMES about our know nothing about baseball front runner fanbase.

Billy not Martin

October 2nd, 2010
12:16 am

Hit a Single
I’ll never claim to be a great manager, couldn’t do it.
Bobby’s great and inspiring players to think their better than what they are. That’s why they love him. But he is a terrible game day manager. Always has been. WHen we were in the thick of the Wild card race last year, how many mgrs would have kept putting the worst hitter on the team (Greg Norton) in key pinch hitting situations over and over and over. Only the best mgr in baseball history Huh?? Even Leo on the radio last year couldn’t defend Bobby on that one.

Hit A Single

October 2nd, 2010
12:17 am

All you Bobby Cox bashers – There is one thing about it. He will be in the Hall of Fame one day and look where you will be, still critcizing managers and coaches. Get a life!

Mike McDonald

October 2nd, 2010
12:17 am

The myth of the “Players’ Manager”, created and promulgated by the likes of the inarticulate, fragile Chipper Jones is about to be shattered, even if the denying, die-hards won’t admit it. It was bullocks from the start and had nothing to do with what the fans wanted: a decent team, well coached and managed. Absolutely nothing to do with the “warm fuzzies” in the clubhouse and the oft-used expression by Chipper et al: “Bobby covers our back”.
Face it head on: Bobby Cox is over-rated and over-hyped and over-the-hill. And Gone With The Wind after Sunday.

Braves One

October 2nd, 2010
12:21 am

Hit A Single

October 2nd, 2010
12:17 am

All you Bobby Cox bashers – There is one thing about it. He will be in the Hall of Fame one day and look where you will be, still critcizing managers and coaches. Get a life!

—————————————

You do not have to be in a sports hall of fame to be honorable in this life. And “bashers” have an opinion too, and that’s still an American right that thousands are fighting for as we speak.

Hit A Single

October 2nd, 2010
12:23 am

Billy – What makes Leo an authority on managing. Remember all he did was be the pitching coach to the best 3 pitchers in baseball. Over 25 years, there is alot of second guessing. I have done it myself. But anybody that knows baseball knows that he has had a heck of a run.

Steve Preston

October 2nd, 2010
12:24 am

The people that know baseball. Ah, those people. Us neanderthals are just morons.
I guess that’s why a team like the Marlins without any of the top 10 have won 2. The sad fact is you take away one of those big 3 hall of famers and the Braves make the playoffs maybe 4 times. He had a silver platter handed to him and still “managed’ to lose 13 out of 14 times. Sure put him in the hall. Good ol Bobby! You take 30/32 managers over the 14 years and put that rotation on their team and they win too. And they would have AT LEAST WON 2 titles. He’s by far the most overrated manager ever. Tonight was a perfect snapshot of his career. Bring in a reliever to give up a grand slam to a non home run player, while in a pennant race and to a guy who’s coming back from multiple injuries. Yep, that Cox is one hell of a manager.

JimmyO

October 2nd, 2010
12:26 am

Hit a Single, didn’t Bobby have those 3 pitchers also ? And one WS ring ? Hypocrite.

Team Redneck

October 2nd, 2010
12:26 am

I’m a Phillies fan and i have to say you guys are WAY to negative on your team. . seriously, they still HOLD THE LEAD for the wildcard!. . .the phillies will not put out their starting lineup in any of these games, only get a few of the guys in here and there to get them ready for the postseason, and the next 2 starters– Worley and ? a player to be named– are going to be AAA callups. . . .relax, it’s one game. . . .

Hit A Single

October 2nd, 2010
12:28 am

Hey Braves One – You are right. You do not have to be in the Hall of Fame to have an honorable life. You are entitled to your opinion, but so am I. And anybody that says that Bobby Cox doesn’t deserve the attention he is receiving is wrong. Oh there are more than thousands that have faught and are still fighting for as we speak.

Braves One

October 2nd, 2010
12:28 am

I noticed in his comments Bobby said Conrad should have thrown to first on the ground ball…agreed. I noticed he did not address his decision to allow RH Moylan to face LH pinch hitter Domonic Brown, whom he walked to force in a run. Bobby then put a LH pitcher in, Dunn, who surrendered Rollins’ grand slam. Why not bring Dunn in to face the rookie Brown and try to keep the score 2-2 and end the inning? Very confusing that he would throw Conrad under the bus and overlook the bigger mistake of keeping Moylan in to face a LH hitter with the bases loaded and the game on the line.

bruce mac

October 2nd, 2010
12:29 am

Team, so you were impressed tonight with the Braves?