I kept thinking of Smoltz's 200th win as the mirror image of Oliver Perez's 36th — he looked dominant for long stretches, acutely vulnerable at other times before wiggling out of trouble, and while he was clearly the star of the game, the outcome remained in doubt until the very end.
Yes, David Wright got fucked on that appeal with the bases loaded. No way was that a swing. But he also got erased later in the game on straight-as-a-string fastballs and a hanging slider from Rafael Soriano, a pitcher who looked in danger of falling asleep.
And oh, that ninth inning. Emily and I amused ourself to no end by making fun of Bob Wickman while hoping we would pound him into submission.
Her: Is his cheek full of chocolate?
Me: I think he's got a Cornish game hen in there.
Oh yes, we were laughing it up. And it looked like we might be laughing last: First Delgado's little poke, then karma finally swinging against Atlanta after eight innings of great infield defense. Can't argue for Gotay bunting the tying run into scoring position. Could argue with Julio Franco, whose considerable contributions to this team can't preclude noting that such contributions are increasingly intangible. Gary noted that Julio's got a lot of experience in this spot; I rather sourly noted that I could walk down to the VFW Hall and find guys with experience storming beaches, but that wouldn't make a repeat a good idea.
And then Jose Jose Jose Jose, our slumping superstar. Not a knock on our heart and soul, just a reflection that everybody slumps at some point in a long season, and it's his turn. With two strikes I noticed that the tying run was on third, Kelly Johnson was far enough out at second to chat with Jeff Francoeur, and Wickman's best chance at fielding a push bunt would be to have his own gravity drag the ball toward him. Could Jose make like Endy? A little push bunt to tie, a steal of second, a bloop by Endy….
Or he could pop out.