The day had not gone well for Atlanta. New first baseman Derrek Lee was 0 for 4 with a couple of strikeouts. Melky Cabrera’s adventures in left field had led to a couple of Cubs runs. The Braves’ bats just weren’t able to do a hell of a lot against Ryan Dempster. Facing Carlos Marmol in the ninth seemed like a mere formality. But then . . .
Martin Prado, Brian McCann and Alex Gonzalez walked. In between, Lee and Melky struck out. Bases loaded, two down, Rick Ankiel up to the plate. The count went to 2-2 . . . Braves down to their last strike and . . . Ankiel triples to right field. 5-3 Braves, which is where things ended after Billy Wagner closed it out. Since they were tempting The Fates by relying on Ankiel to be a hero they should have tried to be really macho and close it out with Farnsworth, but no one ever listens to me.
I’m obviously excited because I’m a big fanboy. But even if you’re not a fanboy you can’t help but marvel at what the Braves are doing this year. Unless I’m missing one or two, that’s the 3.675th time they’ve come from behind in the ninth this season. They’re living on the edge and it’s been pretty entertaining stuff.
Well, Phillies fans probably aren’t marveling. And today Cubs fans aren’t. But you see what I’m getting at.
With a fourth-inning solo home run off of Phillies starter Jake Thompson, Mets outfielder Curtis Granderson reached the 30-homer plateau for the fourth time in his 13-year career. It’s a moment worth celebrating, only there’s one problem: he has just 56 RBI on the season.
There are many reasons for the low RBI total. 24 of Granderson’s 30 homers have come with the bases empty. He came into Sunday’s action hitting just .140 in 124 plate appearances with runners in scoring position and .197 with runners on base. He has hit leadoff for most of the season, meaning he’s had the Mets’ pitchers hitting “ahead” of him in the No. 9 slot as well as the Mets’ catchers typically hitting eighth. Mets catchers, collectively, have a .296 on-base percentage, the second-worst mark in the National League.
Since the end of August, Granderson has hit cleanup with Jose Reyes, Asdrubal Cabrera, and Yoenis Cespedes hitting in front of him. That change hasn’t been for naught, as he has 17 RBI in 21 games since.
Still, Granderson is on pace for the fewest RBI in a 30-homer season. Rob Deer and Felix Mantilla are tied for the record with 64 RBI. Deer (32 HR) accomplished the feat in 1992 with the Tigers and Mantilla (30 HR) in 1964 with the Red Sox. Only eight players have had 70 or fewer homers in a 30-homer season. Evan Gattis is currently sitting on 30 homers with 68 RBI.
Following the announcement of the 24-year-old’s death, Major League Baseball observed a moment of silence for José Fernández before each of today’s games. While this afternoon’s Marlins-Braves game was cancelled out of respect for the organization, Miami painted Fernández’s jersey number on the mound in honor of their former pitcher.
Other teams, like the Mets, Mariners, and Dodgers, chose to honor Fernández by hanging his No. 16 jersey in their dugout:
Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports reports that David Ortiz‘s pregame retirement ceremony at Tropicana Field was canceled at the player’s request:
The Astros and Diamondbacks each displayed a personal tribute to Fernández, writing the number 16 on their caps and etching his number and initials in the bullpen:
Rest in peace, Fernández.