A long night, an awful call, a Braves win led by Scott Proctor

OriginThat's Scott Proctor in the middle of a celebration after he somehow drove in the winning run this morning. (AP photo)

Is that Scott Proctor in the middle of a Braves celebration this morning? Nah. (AP photo)

Jordan Schafer looked at the clock. It was 2:15 a.m. and he still wasn’t showered.

“I would’ve like to have been asleep a couple of hours ago,” the Braves center fielder said. “But it obviously makes it better that we won.”

Is that what just happened?

One of the longest and strangest games in baseball history ended at 1:50 a.m. Wednesday. The Braves defeated Pittsburgh 4-3 in 19 innings.

Time of game: 6 hours, 39 minutes. If seemed like if it had gone much longer, shadows from the sunrise would have started affecting the hitters.

There appeared to be less than 5,000 fans at Turner Field still left from the original crowd of 22,036. Maybe they were thinking the longer the game went, there was a decent chance they would receive a free continental breakfast.

Or maybe they just wanted a story to tell their grandchildren one day.

Or maybe they figured they might get a chance to pitch. I mean, if Scott Proctor got a chance to pitch, could it be that long before team scouts began roaming the aisles for relief help?

This game went so long that catcher Brian McCann left after nine innings with a strained oblique, the Braves announced he would go on the 15-day disabled list and by the end of the game you wondered if he was healed and eligible to be activated again.

Here are some things you missed while sleeping:

♦ The numbers: 41 players combined for 158 plate appearances and faced — ready for this? — 608 pitches from 15 pitchers. The understatement of the day came from manager Fredi Gonzalez (who actually had been ejected with Nate McLouth back in the ninth): “Both teams are going to have to push their starters a little tomorrow.” No. Really?

♦ The spectator: It was just before 1 a.m. when Proctor – possibly the most lampooned Braves player since Greg Norton – became a trending topic on Twitter. Why? Simply because he was the Braves’ last non-starting pitcher left. He sat in the bullpen watching Tommy Hanson, Eric O’Flaherty, Jonny Venters, Craig Kimbel — Hah! The closer entered in only the ninth inning! – Scott Linebrink, George Sherrill and Christian Martinez pitch. Wonder how many games of solitaire he played?

The thought occurred that the Braves were trying to avoid bringing Proctor in, given he started the night with a 7.36 ERA. (The fact Martinez  threw an improbable six shutout innings of relief, a relative “quality start,” helped.) Any way, Proctor’s extending viewing became a running online gag. When told later he was trending on Twitter, Proctor said, “I was what?” You were a hot topic. “Oh, I’m sure. I’m not very well liked right now.”

♦ The absurdity: When Proctor finally got into the game, he walked his first batter. But he got the last laugh. He not only pitched two shutout innings and got the win, he had the game-winning RBI. Somehow. We were witness to the worst call by an official in the history of professional sports. (Hey, it’s late. I’m punchy. I’m entitled to make this declaration.) With Schafer on first and Julio Lugo on third, Proctor sent a ground ball to Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez. He stumbled as he took a step toward first. He joked later, “I forgot where first base was. I’m used to running to the dugout.” Alvarez fielded the ball and threw home to Michael McKenry. Lugo clearly was out by 10 feet — except on umpire Jerry Meals’ home planet. Meals called him safe. Then Clint Hurdle’s head exploded.

♦ Proctor was mobbed by teammates. It’s not the first time he has been in the middle of a mob scene. It’s just the first time people weren’t carrying torches and pitchforks.

♦ Some amusing commentary: This is from Braves general manager Frank Wren (following an eye roll and a smile): “I wasn’t close enough to make a call.”

This is from Lugo (between smiles): “He made an appreciation call.” A what? “He appreciated whether I was safe or out. I was safe.”

This is from Eric Hinske, as he walked past Proctor: “That guy can hit!”

This is from  Schafer: “I started going back to second base. Then I saw Julio jumping up and down and I was like, ‘Wait, what happened? Oh. I guess we won.’ I thought he was out. But we’ll take it.”

This is from McKenry to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: “I was kind of baffled. I didn’t know what to do or what to say.”

This is from Meals, who possibly was suffering from dehydration, heat prostration or dementia, to pool reporter Mark Bowman of MLB.com: “I saw the tag, but he looked like he oléd him and I called him safe for that.  I looked at the replays and it appeared he might have got him on the shin area.  I’m guessing he might have got him, but when I was out there when it happened I didn’t see a tag.”

Excuse me, but: “He oléd him”?

♦ One more number: Martin Prado would like to forget this one. He went 0-for-9. The game ended with him in the on-deck circle. Fortunately.

♦ Even one more number: The Braves stranded 23 baserunners.

♦ OK, final numbers: Dan Uggla has a 17-game hitting streak. But after singling in his first two at-bats to reach and pass .200 for the first time since May 16, he went hitless with a walk in his next seven plate appearances. He finished at 2-for-8 and saw his season average drop from .202 in the third inning to .199. Millions of little children had gone to sleep thinking Uggla would finally end a day hitting over .200.

With that, I’m going home now. It’s 4:44 in the morning. Traffic should be clear.

By Jeff Schultz

Earlier:  Heyward still determined to make impact on Braves’ system

Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC; friend me at Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC

354 comments Add your comment

Dirty South

July 27th, 2011
4:55 am

Dirty South

July 27th, 2011
4:59 am

Looks like it’s gonna be a good day!!!

theriddler

July 27th, 2011
5:05 am

19 innings and no extra base hits for the home team. good golly miss molly…

iago's yoda

July 27th, 2011
5:38 am

Something nice to wake up to, a win is.
Sheesh.

Nick Howard

July 27th, 2011
5:43 am

That home plate umpire should be suspended without pay….his strike zone was HORRIBLE to say the least. At least the worst call he made all night went our way!!

Hindu Elvis Pimp

July 27th, 2011
5:50 am

collegeballfan

July 27th, 2011
5:54 am

You win some, you lose some.

NickGranite

July 27th, 2011
6:03 am

It’s the ole ball beat the runner to the plate (by a mile) so the runner must be out syndrome. The “horrible, rotten, awful” call headlines going around baseball this morning are just a bit simplistic. I’ve watched the replay several times on mlb.com and I have yet to see a definitive tag. At best the catcher MAY have touched a strand of fabric on the runner’s knee and I can’t even say that with conviction. Stop being sheep and look at the play closely, you have to at least admit it was much closer to a missed tag than everyone is reporting.

Growler

July 27th, 2011
6:06 am

Okay espn.com has a column up calling it the worst call ever. I watched it on SportsCenter and the TiVo and I replayed it about 10 times and I STILL cannot tell for sure that he the tag was made, despite how it looked in regular time. I also went to through the AP photo gallery and I could not see conclusive evidence there was a tag. Not saying there wasn’t.. but watch it on SportsCenter and slo-mo it, and then tell me for sure the tag was made! All I’m sayin is: I’ve seen blown calls that were far more conclusively blown than that. oh btw, maybe Martinez can replace Lowe in the rotation?!bawa

Growler

July 27th, 2011
6:07 am

NickGranite.. back at ya brothuh!

k daddy

July 27th, 2011
6:10 am

Jerry Meals said damn this we not going 20 my girl is waiting for me at the Waffle house.

Just a game

July 27th, 2011
6:14 am

ESPN will run the story into the ground like this blog will turn out. Personally, I thought he was out myself but glad the Braves won! I thought the umpiring was TERRIBLE from start to the long finish, not to mention both teams went ice COLD after the Braves tied the game…So does Wren get Beltran or Upton now??

BMC

July 27th, 2011
6:21 am

Thanks goodness for the missed call, I awaken three or four times and checked the score. The last time I saw Procter in the game and figured the Braves had thrown in the towel.

bravesown

July 27th, 2011
6:24 am

Runner was NOT tagged. That asshat catcher did a swipe non-tag and missed everything when all he had to do was simply push his glove into the runner. Even after the ridiculous swipe tag, all he had to do was touch the runner. What a moron…never tagged the runner! Idiot has no business in the big leagues, but, hey, we’re glad he’s here….Thanks, dude, for the walkoff swipe and miss! YEAH!

bravesown

July 27th, 2011
6:29 am

Runner was NOT tagged. That azzhat catcher did a swipe non-tag and missed everything when all he had to do was simply push his glove into the runner. Even after the ridiculous swipe tag, all he had to do was touch the runner. What a moron…never tagged the runner! Idiot has no business in the big leagues, but, hey, we’re glad he’s here….Thanks, dude, for the walkoff swipe and miss! YEAH!

slydog

July 27th, 2011
6:29 am

For all those who said they would puke or die if they saw scott proctor pitch gain… well, time to call your bluff…lmao.. I know, he got lucky, but a game like this may give him more confidence the rest of the season. Wow, the Braves haven’t played Pittsburgh like this in 20 years.

"Chef" Tim Dix

July 27th, 2011
6:30 am

Finally we can put the July 4th Ric Camp story to bed.

BravesStillOwnEm

July 27th, 2011
6:31 am

Runner was NOT tagged. That azzhat catcher did a swipe non-tag and missed everything when all he had to do was simply push his glove into the runner. Even after the ridiculous swipe tag, all he had to do was touch the runner. …never tagged the runner! Clown has no business in the big leagues, but, hey, we’re glad he’s was here now….Thanks, dude, for the walkoff swipe and miss! YEAH!

Red Wolf

July 27th, 2011
6:33 am

Does Martinez get credit for a quality start?

BravesStillOwnEm

July 27th, 2011
6:33 am

Runner was not tagged… YEAH! And thanks to the ump for watching THE ENTIRE PLAY and making the call. It’s not if the ball beats the runner. The tag must be applied. Thanks, dude, for the walkoff Swipe ATTEMPT and FAIL.

Bama Fan#2

July 27th, 2011
6:35 am

Home cooking or just a really bad umpire wanting to go to bed? Proctor
a blind squirrel sometimes finds a nut!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Lone Wolf

July 27th, 2011
6:39 am

Today is the day, Frank! Can’t afford to wait until Sunday!

RomeDawg

July 27th, 2011
6:39 am

Meals plate was all over the place all night. Thankfully it moved towards third on the final play. Glad I fell asleep at 1 a.m., I would have been pissed to see the game end on a blown call. Meals needs to realize the game is about the players, not him.

What a pompous jerk!

J Clay

July 27th, 2011
6:47 am

Main story, Mac on DL, Bravos 6 games out….does not look good

Gen Neyland

July 27th, 2011
6:50 am

Umps have a way of missing things, or not. That’s baseball, that’s life in the sporting world…Now, the guy that goes into the hospital for meniscus clean-up and comes out a kidney short due to a staffing screw-up, that’s a real problem.

murf4hof

July 27th, 2011
6:56 am

I doubt we make a trade for a hitter. FW has said more than once that we already have the pieces in the organization to win this thing

Kyle

July 27th, 2011
6:59 am

The way this team has looked that is the only way they were going to get a win. They should send that Umpire a thank you note.

Dr. Warren

July 27th, 2011
7:00 am

Wasn’t there a July 4th Braves game almost as long in the 80’s?

JJ

July 27th, 2011
7:01 am

Glad to see some support here for the idea that the tag actually was never made, since it wasn’t. Meals may have just wanted to go home and he clearly had a terrible night calling balls and strikes, but chances are that he got this one right. You can slow-mo this replay a hundred times and never come up with the conclusion that the catcher’s glove EVER touched Lugo. Of course it sounds better for Schultz to use his typical hyperbole.

stop2think

July 27th, 2011
7:02 am

Oh man, there are bad calls and there are bad calls. That was truly a horrible call.

GT71

July 27th, 2011
7:04 am

Agree w/ the ‘Nick’s – bad home plate umping all night long.
Knee-caps must be 8 inches from ground and the plate wobbled left, then right.
So it was wobbly to 3rd in 19th.
But I am sorry my DVR wont add 3 hours to recording, just up to an hour.
Hope to watch replay if FSS will air ait.

stop2think

July 27th, 2011
7:04 am

JJ are you blind? Even the ump admitted it looked like the catcher hit Lugo’s shin when looking at the replay. Sometimes you need to stop being a goober and start being a real fan of the game

NickGranite

July 27th, 2011
7:06 am

J Clay hits the nail on the head. McCann to the DL and Chipper out “several days” with a strain while Arizona. Pittsburgh etc are breathing down our necks for the wild card….

NickGranite

July 27th, 2011
7:08 am

The ump admitted it MAY have hit his shin. I agree with the ump, it MAY have hit his shin which tells me all the outrage MAY be a bit overblown..

Skeezix

July 27th, 2011
7:10 am

Glad they won it, really needed a win bad—but w/ McCann on the DL, call the medics and put this offense in an ICU.

Skeezix

July 27th, 2011
7:11 am

Oh yeah, glad to see Fredi stick up for his players. I was hoping he would scream and yell at the homeplate ump even longer.

JJ

July 27th, 2011
7:12 am

I don’t care what the umpire said he thinks he saw on the replay, I’m telling you what I saw on the same replay. Looked like the glove went right by his leg to me. All air.

Also not sure what any of this has to do with anybody being a “real fan” of the game

bad brad

July 27th, 2011
7:14 am

Even though it was a long game, I got sick of Chip Caray’s constant updates on the time once it got to be past 10 o’clock. This moron has one of the best jobs in the world and daily complains about how long the games are taking. Like father like son. He ought to have to work a real job for a month and I bet he would stop his incessant immature complaining.

Furman Bitcher

July 27th, 2011
7:21 am

Jeff, this is my all-time favorite article that I have read of yours. So much good material!!!

TommyP

July 27th, 2011
7:21 am

He “Ole’d” him. You’ve never heard of that in sports? Wow.

Furman Bitcher

July 27th, 2011
7:23 am

badbrad, I was thinking the same thing. “Clock strikes 1 a.m. in Atlanta”!! Blah, blah, blah.

BC

July 27th, 2011
7:31 am

This is the most recent example of the need for instant replay in baseball!! What if this were game 7 of the World Series? Jerry Meals should be suspended not only for missing the call but for his comments after the game. He “might” have tagged him!! Come on!! And Lugo is a douchebag! He was a douchebag in Boston and he’s an even bigger one now in Atlanta! He knows full well he was tagged out. He’d better keep his head down at the game tonight. I’m sure he’ll be “tagged” once and he’ll definitely know he was tagged. Well at least the Braves have found someone to take McCann’s place on the roster while he’s on the DL. Congratulations Jerry Meals! Make sure they spell your name correctly on the back of the Atlanta jersey when you wear it tonight – there are two S’s in DUMBASS!

Testiclese

July 27th, 2011
7:31 am

I’m just concerned that Hanson wasn’t able to go the distance.

JJ

July 27th, 2011
7:32 am

Speaking of the TV broadcasters, did anyone notice some of the stuff coming out of Caray and Simpson as we got into the late innings? Those guys must have thought nobody was watching anymore at that point. They are usually bad enough as it is, but last night they were especially atrocious.

Herschel Talker

July 27th, 2011
7:45 am

bad brad:

I couldn’t agree more. Skip was an overrated bum, and a jerk. And his son is just as bad a commentator (though he’s actually a nice guy).

HT

bad brad

July 27th, 2011
7:45 am

Simpson is okay; Caray is living on the coat tails of his dad who made a living on the coat tails of his. The next intelligent thing that comes out of Caray’s mouth will be the first.

He is the Nate McClouth of ATL broadcasters. Speaking of which, how much longer can the Braves tolerate McLouth’s wimpy arm, constantly throwing to the wrong base, overthrowing cut off man, and then when they are short of players, he gets himself thrown out for arguing a strike call. What a guy. Hopefully by week’s end we get Beltran and ship McLouth somewhere else.

Ghostrider

July 27th, 2011
7:47 am

I went to bed after 16 Innings, way to tired to stay up any longer. Haven’t seen the play yet but hey a win is a win….Iiiiii Like It :)

Jerry Blooger

July 27th, 2011
7:47 am

I actually thought Chip got better as the night went on

Coachtop

July 27th, 2011
7:47 am

Wasn’t Uggla 0 for 3 on Sunday? (according to mlb.com) How does he still have a 17-game hitting streak?

bad brad

July 27th, 2011
7:49 am

Jerry, that’s because you still had a supply of beer in the fridge.