Game 3 of 4
After dropping the opening game of the series, the first and only visit by the Braves to Slugger Field this season, the Bats trolled the Braves big time in the second game, a record-setting effort by the Bats that ended 22-1 in their favor. There were many heroes in that game, and just as many goats. Showing up at LSF with my daughter Chihiro, I was more excited about seeing Julio Teheran take the mound than anything else...the way the Bats season has been going, there aren't many chances that they will win tonight, and there aren't very many points of light on the roster...well, OK, there are a few that showed up here recently, but for the most part, it has been Dioner Navarro that has been the picture of offensive consistency for AAA Louisville...and he delivered something special and bizarre at the same time.
The combined bullpen of Kanekoa Texeira, Carlos Fisher, Travis Webb, and Donnie Joseph held the Braves to only 1 more run, 5 hits, 1BB and 4K in their combined 5.2 innings of relief. Even still, the Bats entered the bottom of the 9th down by 3 runs, and it looked like RHP Jaye Chapman had their number. Appearances can be deceiving.
Cody Puckett stuck out swinging to lead off, then PH/3B Mike Costanzo came through with a rocket 0-1 double to deep RF. Chapman walked Denis Phipps, he and Costanzo are stranded after Didi Gregorius lined out to RF (Gregorius reached base on an exciting wild-pitch strikeout in the 7th, and eventually scored). Corky Miller (who had been 1B coach all evening) steps up to the plate to pinch-hit, and is walked to load the bases with 2 outs. Miller's patience was the key to this walk, but Chapman inexplicably walked Neftali Soto with the bases loaded to bring in Costanzo.
What happened next admittedly happened so fast it was difficult for most of us in the stands to understand. Dioner Navarro takes a 1-0 pitch for what seemed to be a ground rule double, which would have tied the game. In deep RF, the ball seemed to bounce back into the field once it hit the wall, just missing the yellow goal line. The account that was published in the 7/15/12 edition of the Louisville Courier-Journal recounted the event in this manner:
This was an odd one right down to the end - and beyond. Navarro...sent a line drive into the right-field corner that kicked back onto the field. First-base umpire Will Little signaled home run, and the Bats exploded out of the dugout to celebrate...
Gwinnett manager Dave Brundage said his players told him that a fan interfered with the ball in the corner, causing it to bounce back onto the turf. he pleaded with the umpires, who huddled for a few minutes before upholding the original call.
"My players were arguing that it hit the guy in the arm as he was reaching for the ball," Brundage said. "I personally couldn't see it because I was in the dugout. I just saw how it ricocheted. It would have been a ground rule double."
When Navarro was asked if he thought it was a home run, he said: "I don't know. I was running. I saw the umpire (make the home run signal)."
Well, that happened...a walk-off GRAND SLAM. As for the dugout exploding, well it didn't really happen that way...there was a joyous pilgrimage to the plate by Navarro's teammates, but from where I sat, they seemed as confused as the rest of us. While the umps were huddling, our friend Jimmy (with his trusty AM radio) relayed the ensuing controversy...when the huddle broke up, the game was over, officially.
Did it really happen? I wasn't the only one present who thought it was a ground rule double, but as we know in baseball...the umpires have the final say.
Braves RHP Julio Teheran warming up
Bats CF Denis Phipps faces Teheran
Braves 2B Lance Zawadzki faces RHP Chad Reineke
Braves CF Jose Constanza (the bat-licking guy) faces Reineke
Braves SS Josh Wilson faces Reineke
RHP Kanekoa Texeira takes the mound, in relief of Reineke
Braves LF Felix Pie faces Texeira
Bats RF Xavier Paul faces Teheran
Bats 2B Chris Valaika (who wears sandals off the field) faces Teheran
Bats LF Cody Puckett, looking like he might be featured in the Little League World Series
Braves C Jose Yepez faces Texeira...I tried to capture his truly sweet swing but the best I could do was frame his most excellent batting stance...
Zawadzki grounds out, 1B Neftali Soto (SOH.......toe) to Texeira
Gregorius reaches first on a Wild-Pitch strikeout, Corky Miller is the 1B coach
RHP Jaye Chapman in relief of Teheran...a few days later, Chapman was picked up by the CUBS
Swith-hitting Zawadzki on the opposite side of the plate, facing LHP Travis Webb
Bats PH Corky Miller faces Chapman with 2 on and 2 out...he would draw a free pass to load the bases
UPDATE: Immediately following the 4th game of the series, the Braves and Reds made a "cross-dugout" trade that swapped IF Paul Janish for RHP Todd Redmond, who started game 1 of the series. A great move, as Todd's "invisi-ball" is semi-legendary and his sub-4 ERA with Gwinnett in 2011 and 2012 can only mean good things for the Reds and their dangerous vacancy of Major League-ready pitching available for call up from the Minors...did I also mention that Redmond famously threw a no-hitter against Louisville in 2010? Oh...okay...
Official Program #3, featuring Kristopher Negron
Official Scorecard #3, featuring Corky Miller...and autographed tonight by Corky Miller!!