The Braves WON! and their magic number to clinch the East is now at BJ Upton.
Things got a bit chippy last night between Alex Wood and home plate umpire CB Bucknor. In the 5th inning with the bases loaded and Jason Werth at the plate with a full count, Wood made his pitch on the inside corner… Bucknor called a borderline pitch a ball, forcing in the first run of the game. Wood lost it on the mound, yelling at Bucknor and visibly upset by what he thought was a strike. Fredi Gonzalez came out to argue and was ejected.
Wood lasted only a few more pitches before he was replaced by a reliever, but on his way off the mound he pointed at Bucknor and had a few more choice words for the horrible umpire. Bucknor, of course, ejected Wood.
A few innings later with Dan Uggla at the plate a pitch was thrown by Washington pitcher Craig Stammen in a similar spot, and Bucknor promptly rang up Uggla for a strikeout. Brian McCann, the runner at second base, grabbed his helmet with both hands in disbelief. Uggla had some words with Bucknor, but stayed in the game. The Nats broadcast put together a side-by-side of the two pitches (in red on the pitch track):
Keep in mind that Wood is a lefty, so his pitch moves across the plate, while Craig Stammen, the Nats pitcher, is a righty, and his pitch stays inside the whole time. Awful umpiring. When will MLB do something about these umps who distract from everyone’s enjoyment of the game?
Not to pile on, but in the 6th inning Anthony Varvaro thew a pitch that hit a Nats batter… in a 1-run game… and Bucknor thought it was intentional and issued warnings to both benches. Then the next inning Stammen came inside on Chris Johnson brushed his uniform for a HBP. Since both teams had been warned, one could argue that Stammen should have been ejected, but of course he wasn’t. Both pitches, from Varvaro and Stammen, were pretty much the same pitch — a tailing 2-seam fastball that tailed too much. There was no need to issue a warning in that situation, no one was throwing at anyone intentionally.
Maybe all the emotion surrounding the ejections helped light a fire under the Braves bats. They had been hit-less up until that point in the game, but the very next inning they erupted for 3 runs (lately, that’s an eruption), including home runs from Dan Uggla (22) and Justin Upton (26). Now, I wouldn’t want the bad umpiring of CB Bucknor every night, but maybe his antics were what the Braves needed — to get mad at something, and play with a chip on their shoulder (Lord knows we have to listen with a Chip in our ear all season, and that often gets me mad).
We need our Hey back: Jason Heyward faced live pitching in a simulated format in batting practice today. Righty reliever Mark Lamm was summoned from Gwinnett to throw to J-Hey. That’s a good compliment for Lamm, as the Braves had said earlier in the week they wanted a pitcher with good control to pitch to Heyward. Hopefully Jason can make it back into the starting lineup in the next few days.