Despite all the injuries the Atlanta Braves have endured this season, manager Fredi Gonzalez has the Braves not only leading the NL East by15.5 games, but also with the best record in baseball. Here it is the 19th of August and the Braves magic number to clinch the NL East is only 24.
With the job he has done this season, Gonzalez is most likely a leading candidate for the NL Manager of the Year award. But Fredi is human and that means he makes mistakes, too.
I’m reaching back over a week to pull this one out, but it still makes me scratch my head. After the Braves won 14 games in a row, they were playing the lowly Marlins (August 10) at Turner Field, with a chance to tie the Braves modern-day record for wins in a row. Tying and/or exceeding the record would be a great accomplishment for this team.
With the Marlins leading 1-0 in the ninth inning, the Braves had Evan Gattis on first with two outs. The Braves leading hitter, Chris Johnson, would have been up, but he had been thrown out in the first inning arguing balls and strikes. So light-hitting Paul Janisch, who hadn’t had a hit all year, was due up next.
Thinking back, I didn’t notice whether or not Janisch was in the on deck circle. I was looking into the dugout to see which hitter Fredi would call on to pinch-hit for Janisch. Would it be left-handed hitting speedster Jordan Schafer, who was hitting over .300 at the time? Or switch-hitter Joey Terdoslavich, who has pretty good power?
It didn’t even occur to me that the right-handed Janisch, would hit against Steve Cishek, the Marlins right-handed closer. The only question, was which pinch-hitter would Fredi send up to the plate.
Much to my surprise, Paul Janisch strode to the plate to hit with not only the game on the line, but the chance to tie the modern win streak record. Not surprisingly, Janisch struck out. Game over.
In the post game press conference Fredi was asked about having Janisch bat in that situation. His response was something like, “Paulie has given us good at bats in that type situation”. So in other words, Fred’s answer was a non-answer.
We’ll never know if Schafer or Terdoslavich would have gotten on base, but the question I would have liked to ask Fredi was this: “If it was the same situation in the seventh game of a playoff series, would Paul Janisch have hit, or would you pinch hit for him? If Fredi’s answer is that he would let Janisch hit, I suggest you don’t make any plans for attending a World Series parade in downtown Atlanta this October.