(Instead of the usual boilerplate preview for a game that means nothing, we thought we’d mess around with time a bit. So pretend it’s 22 years ago and you’re reading The Office on a geocities page.)
One month ago today, the Braves were nine games behind the Giants. Win tonight and they could be tied for first. Still hard to believe.
But when Kent Mercker gives you 11 scoreless innings — with just one hit — in 2 starts, you know everything’s going your way. The erstwhile reliever was even better last night than his Sept. 4 start, striking out 6 and allowing just one baserunner in six hitless frames.
Though I hate losing him in the late innings, especially considering how erratic our only lefty reliever has been, Mercker makes the best rotation in baseball one for the ages. The bullpen, meanwhile, continues to exceed expectations, with more superb work from McMichael last night.
The bullpen can probably rest easy tonight with Mad Dog on the mound. Remember back in April, when Maddux allowed 13 runs over three consecutive starts and we all wished we had Barry Bonds instead?
He’s allowed no more than four earneed runs in a game since, last doing so on July 26 vs. the Rockies. Since then he’s allowed only 12 earned runs — in 8 starts!
Expect our ace to toy with the hapless Padres, who bat old pal Melvin Nieves third in their line-up. Not that he’s earned it; last night he dropped under the Mendoza line, striking out three times.
Yep, I think that trade’s gonna work out fine.
The line-up for the soon-to-be division leaders
Otis, Blauser, Gant, McGriff, Justice, TP, Berryhill, Belliard (2B), Maddux