The Atlanta Braves finally won one against the San Francisco Giants in 2014, a 5-0 snoozer that was boring enough to make your vision blurry, except for two things.
1. Ryan Vogelsong struck out eight, tying his career high. He pitched better than his line (four earned runs over six innings) indicated.
2. Once again, there was an interesting play at the plate involving Buster Posey.
Jason Heyward hit a single to lead off the sixth and advanced to second on Justin Upton’s fly ball to deep center. Freddie Freeman hit a looping liner to right over the defensive shift and the Braves decided to test Hunter Pence’s arm. Pence’s throw beat Heyward by several steps, but the Braves right fielder took an outside angle and contorted his body in such a way that Posey completely missed the tag. The Giants challenged the play, but it was obvious from Posey’s complete non-reaction that he knew the call would stand — as it did.
The Braves had already scored a run earlier in the game, and would go on to score two more in that inning and another in the seventh, but that play was the one everyone will talk about. It’ll provide at least one segment for any shock jock professional sports teeth-gnasher who wants to tackle it, and surely there will be at least a couple. Then again, with the Giants playing a day game on Wednesday, one morning is as long of a shelf life as this story may get.
Since not much else happened in this game, I transcribed Posey’s postgame interview. To his credit, he was dressed and ready to face the media at his locker by the time Bruce Bochy’s postgame press conference was over.
Q: Bochy said guys were getting creative with their slides. Did that kind of surprise you there?
BP: Yeah. I thought I was just in the right position. I didn’t think there was any way for him to get around me. It’s a shame I missed him because that would’ve been a big out in the game. It kind of flip-flopped the momentum a little bit.
Q: Did you think you had him?
BP: I never felt anything, to be honest with you.
Q: What was your feeling when the manager actually reviewed the play?
BP: I was guessing maybe I nicked his jersey. I didn’t feel anything.
Q: Did you think he was going to dive (inaudible).
BP: You don’t have time to think, it’s happening so fast. Like I said, I caught the ball, saw him in front of me, went to make the tag. If I could go back I probably would’ve just jabbed out a little bit more. But it is what it is.
Q: Is there a fine line with these rules? You can only do so much as a catcher, the runner can only do so much. Is it more of a finesse play now than it used to be? Is that any part of this?
BP: I don’t know. Because the catcher’s still in front of the plate, the way I understand it is there still can be a collision. But it does seem like more guys are getting creative with their slides more so than in the past.
Q: Did you think you had the plate totally blocked off?
BP: I don’t know. Again, the throw’s coming in from right field. Sometimes it’s hard to know exactly where you are. I haven’t looked at the replay yet.
Q: Bochy said this is one where you just sort of learn from. What do you think you’ll learn out of this?
BP: Probably … like I mentioned earlier to be a little more aggressive with the tag just in case. You don’t expect a big guy like that to be able to move as well as he did. I think that’s it, probably just be a little more aggressive with the tag and make sure I really leave no question.
“It’s one of those plays where I think (Posey) thought he had them easily. (Heyward), you have to give him credit. He did a good job of avoiding the tag,” Bruce Bochy said. “We learn from this.”
— Posey needs to go back and look at the tape, and he needs to tighten up this part of his game. This is NOT, however, another supposed example of the “wussification” of sports. Humans don’t understand concussions, home plate collisions cause concussions (and other avoidable injuries), and Posey will learn from this. (I’d be a horrible sports talk host.)
— “I felt like I probably threw the ball better tonight in the first five innings than in the last three (starts), actually. I’m throwing the ball the way I want to. I need to get some better results,” Vogelsong said.
— The Giants were 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position. The Braves went 4-for-9 in those situations.
“We didn’t do really hardly anything tonight offensively,” Bochy said. “(Mike) Minor was hitting both sides of the plate and hit his spots where he wanted all night.”
— It seemed like Andrelton Simmons was trying to test Brandon Crawford with every ball he hit tonight. Obviously these two aren’t spending these games trying to one-up each other defensively, but it sure seems like it as they keep hitting tough grounders at one another.
— Michael Morse is in the midst of a 2-for-28 slump with one walk and no extra-base hits since going 2-for-5 in the Giants’ 11-10 win in Pittsburgh. His average has dropped from .307 to .256.
— Angel Pagan was taken out of the game in the eighth.
“His knee’s a little sore. He’s going to be off tomorrow,” said Bochy. “It was barking a little bit.”
— Heyward hit a foul ball that zoomed back over the home plate screen and ricocheted off the second deck facade, just over the press box. Shawn Estes, who was sitting about 10 feet to my left in the front row and looking TV-ready in a suit, just about fell out of his chair trying to stay out of harm’s way. I haven’t seen anyone move like that since Spring Training, when Henry Schulman dove to avoid a ball that put a dent in the wall behind him. Brandon Belt saw Schulman’s quick reflexes from first base, and said from that day forward he’d call him “Big Puma.” And I’ve heard Belt call him “Puma” since that night at least once or twice.