The Atlanta battery was the story Friday night in Philadelphia. In beating the Phillies for only the second time in ten games this season, catcher Brian McCann and starter Jair Jurrjens led a dominant effort in an 8-2 series opening win at Citizens Bank Park.
The few negatives for the Braves were able to be forgotten as a throwing error by McCann and Ryan Howard's 30th homerun in the 9th with the Braves leading 8-0 at the time proved to be basically meaningless.
This might have been one night where the Braves were glad that Chipper Jones and his sore hamstring were watching from the 3rd base dugout for all nine innings. Super-sub Omar Infante had two hits from the 8th position in the lineup and made three superb defensive plays that Chipper would have been hard pressed to make himself.
But Infante's smooth glovework on three plays was matched by his fellow infielders. Kelly Johnson might be thinking he wish he got in on the act. The fact that not one of these 6 plays wound up on the late edition of "Web Gems" surprises me.
1) Infante goes backhand in the bottom of the 2nd to rob Pat Burrell of a double.
2) Mark Teixeira snares a short hop off of Shane Victorino in the bottom of the 3rd.
3) With a runner on first in the bottom of the fifth, Yunel Escobar goes behind the 2nd base bag, steps on the bag just as he's throwing to first to turn a double play. He may have thrown it before he actually touched the bag, but that was only after seeing the slow motion replay.
4) One batter after Escobar's DP, Infante barehands a chopper off the bat of Carlos Ruiz to end the inning.
5) In the bottom of the 6th, Infante cuts across shortstop and barehands a slow chopper and throws out the speedy Jimmy Rollins by a full step.
6) After taking a liner off the glove, Jair Jurrjens recovered going towards 3rd base to throw out Jayson Werth for the last out in the 8th inning. Jurrjens finished the night giving up only 3 hits and one walk, with six strikeouts in 8 innings - almost identical numbers to his Toronto start 4 weeks ago.
Once Jurrjens was out of the game everything changed. Greg Norton had the unique distinction of pinch-hitting twice in the same inning, as he doubled to lead off the top of the 9th, and then drove in a run later on a infield grounder.
The big blow was from McCann, who launched a grand slam into the right field seats off of Brad Lidge four innings after taking Kyle Kendrick 420+ feet to straight away center.
If Will Ohman losing the shutout with 2 outs in the 9th is the worst thing about the Braves evening, I doubt they'll be complaining. However, with Mike Hampton scheduled to return for a nationally televised match-up Saturday against Braves' nemesis Cole Hamels, the Braves won't get to enjoy their series opening victory for too long.
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