|FROM John Bazemore/AP — The Braves dugout errupted as Chipper Jones (center) trots home after his two run walk off home run to defeat the Phillies 15-13.|
If this is how he is going to play out his final professional season, Chipper has to hold up until October.
The second of three games against divisional rivals Philadelphia Phillies proved that this rivalry is going to get better as the season progresses. A game that was back and forth from the beginning ( you can see the box score here) with Phillies ( 4th place in NL East 12-13) were up 6-0 to the 2nd place Braves (15-10 NL East) in the beginning innings. After the 7th inning stretch, the Braves began to make a comeback bid, capped off with a Brian McCann grand slam in the 5th.
This was a game packed with significant stats. Roy Halladay (3-2) saw his ERA double from under 2 to 3.40 in a game where he earned a no decision, but one of his worst performances in a while, going 5 1/3 innings, allowing 12 hits and 8 runs. This, had he had the decision, could have compromised his streak of 69 games of wins when he has a lead of 6 runs or more. Tommy Hanson (3-2, 3.74 ERA) didn’t fair any better, only going 3 2/3 innings with 8 hits and 4 earned runs. This win also halted the Braves winless streak against the Phillies of 8 games, dating back to last season. Finally, this was the highest scoring extra inning game since 2006, according to STATS, LLC, when the Cleveland Indians beat the Kansas City Royals by the same score.
But the story is Chipper, who, alongside Jason Giambi last night, because two of the few players to have walk off home runs after 40 years old. His fourth home run of the year, Chipper now has 458 home runs, most for a switch hitter in his generation, and 3rd all time against the ambidextrous crowd (Mickey Mantle & Eddie Murray). Jones also stated that this was his 500th home run, the game ending blast from Phillies close Brian Sanchez, of his professional career. Not bad for an aging player, missing the start last night from knees that are making 2012 his last season. The Braves finished April 14-4 after beginning the season 0-4. With Chipper in the line up for about half of those games, the line up have fashioned the second most comebacks in the Majors this year, including last night.
I will echo a sentiment from my fellow She’s Out of Your League writer Leslie, love him or hate him, you cannot deny that Chipper Jones is first ballot Hall of Famer. As it gets hotter (and this summer in Georgia is going to be a scorcher, we can already tell), you will see Chipper play less and less, as he has already with swelling on his left knee. However, if Chipper can make it and produce like this, the woes of last years’ epic collapse will be far behind this ball club and Braves fans.
Best quotes from last night (from USAToday.com):
“When I am in there, I want to make a splash. I did it tonight.” – Chipper Jones after the game.
“What a cool moment that was, not only for Chipper, but for the rest of us out there to enjoy that, to watch that,” McCann said. “To see him walk down the first base line like that, that’s a treat for all of us.” – Brian McCann
Information and quotes used in this article from The Atlanta Journal Constitution, ESPN, The Atlanta Braves, MLB.COM, USA Today, STATS, LLC & The Associated Press.