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Braves-Giants Game 5 Boy, this
2002-10-08 01:39
by Mike Carminati

Braves-Giants Game 5

Boy, this was a nice, juicy deciding game. Three-to-one in the bottom of the ninth with the go-ahead run at the plate and no outs-you can't ask for anything better. There was a lot to mull over:

First, the official score was 3-1. Buck and McCarver went back and forth on this, finally deciding that the run did not score as the fade-out music played, which was obvious from the replay. Actually, there is no way that Furcal should attempt to score on that play. Given that his run is meaningless if the Giants get the final out, he should do his best to draw a throw from the Giants to free up the runner. The Giants would probably never fall for it, but it's worth a shot. Once he scores, he no longer serves any function.

In the bottom of the ninth, the grainy replay did seem to show Snow's foot still on the bag as he caught the ball on the leadoff hitter, Furcal. There are two things that are more decisive than the replay: 1) Snow tried to tag Furcal as he ran by and 2) Snow did not act surprised nor did he argue the play. He knew that he was off the bag.

By the way, that was a tough play on which to give Kent an error. Yes, he made a bad throw, but he made a great play just getting to the ball. You can't divorce the throw from Kent catching the ball: his throw was hurried and off-balance by the difficulty of the play and Furcal's speed.

Next, Julio Franco singles to right and Furcal goes to third. Maybe Sanders could not have prevented Furcal from taking the extra base, but he could have gotten to the ball a little more quickly.

Tim McCarver at first said that the Braves were bringing in a pinch-runner for Franco, but then corrected himself realizing that the Braves only had two slow-running position players left. First, Cox's earlier strategy prevented him from having a Mark DeRosa or Marcus Giles to pinch-run. This became an issue when Franco was doubled up in a rundown. I'm not saying that a better runner could have down anything on that play, but the earlier moves dictated that a slow runner was at first, which in turn dictated where Snow was positioned at first. If Snow was not positioned where he was, that doubleplay perhaps turns into a single.

Also, given the position players that Atlanta had left, why not have a pitcher pinch-run? The Phils did it with a bit of success with lanky Ron Reed when I was a kid. Why not bring in a young pitcher like Damian Moss? There's always the chance that you might need pitchers later on if you tie up the game. But that's a chance that you have to take.

My next question is why Cox took three catchers on his playoff roster, especially ones that hit so poorly. That limits your bench from 7 to 5 men right off the bat. Looking at the regular-season roster, I do not see anyone else they could have taken besides weak-hitting Jesse Garcia (Surhoff has been injured all year). Why not just take an extra pitcher?

With Lockhart in the lineup Cox only has two left-handed bats on the bench, Matt Franco and Darren Bragg. Both of them were used by the sixth and they still had the right-handed Worrell and Nen to get through. They also had no defensive replacements for any position besides catcher and firstbase after the sixth. They had one run to show for all the moves. Cox played the sixth inning like the ninth, so he had to play the ninth like the sixth.

It was an interesting move pulling Ortiz in the sixth with a 2-0 lead. After Fultz gave up the hit to DeRosa and the Braves pulled within 1, it didn't look like a great move. Ultimately, however, with the Braves spending all their players with the righty-to-lefty and then back-to-righty switches, it proved the turning point of the game.

Why was Bell initially bunting with a man on first and one out in the ninth? Why not a hit-and-run?

Henry Blanco made two great plays in succession in the eighth. First he made a perfect throw on a Bonds' steal attempt. Then, he threw out Santiago on a third-strike that went back to the backstop. If Santiago had been paying attention he would have made it easily-an experienced catcher should know better.

Can we all now agree to drop the derogatory comments about Bonds' postseason performance? He ended up batting .294 for the series and was the difference in the deciding game. Can the announcers by a tad bit creative and find a new story?

By the way, Gene Clines reaction to Bonds' home run was classic. He hooted like an owl. The ball was crushed. The outfielders hardly moved at all.

Do we have to endure this annoying Fox "October Magical Match-ups" ad campaign for the entire postseason? I'm embarrassed for the actor who plays the voodoo dude.

In the battle of the chop vs. the thundersticks, I vote for Youppi. Can't we keep these annoying shenanigans limited to one mascot in one locus? Pretty soon these thundersticks will become as prevalent as those streamers that they use behind the opposition's basket during free throws in college basketball.

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