It’s Chipper Jones’ final regular-season series in Atlanta, and the Braves brought out the big guns in a pregame ceremony Friday, with Hank Aaron and Bobby Cox paying tribute to the future Hall of Famer.
Aaron gave Jones a third base with the words “Chipper Jones 1993-2012,” and his teammates got him a pool table. The bases and on-deck circles on the field were stamped with a special logo in honor of Chipper. Jones’ No. 10 was painted in the grass in center field.
Speaking to his teammates on the field before the game, Chipper said “I feel like every one of you are my younger brothers. You have done such a great job of coming back after what happened last year. I’m so proud of each and every one of you.”
Unfortunately, the game itself didn’t go so well for Chipper or the Braves. Jones went 0-for-4 and the Braves fell to the Mets 3-1. The team had just four hits off Jon Niese and company.
“I think I had a tear planted in the corner of my eye basically all night,” Jones said afterwards. “It’s pretty tough to hit when you’re misty like that.”
I hope you don’t have any plans tonight at around 10PM Eastern time, because that’s when we get a pitching matchup for the ages as Max Scherzer will take on Clayton Kershaw at Dodger Stadium. When they meet tonight it will be the first time two pitchers with three or more Cy Young Awards have matched up since 2006. That year, and in 2005 and 2000, Roger Clemens faced Greg Maddux. In 2001 Clemens faced Pedro Martinez.
Kershaw won his hardware in 2011, 2013 and 2014, with an MVP award in 2014 to boot. Scherzer collected trophies in 2013, 2016 and 2017. Each has started the 2018 season in Cy Young form. Kershaw is 1-2, but that record is due to poor run support. He has a 1.73 ERA and has struck out 31 batters and has walked only three in 26 innings. Scherzer is 3-1 with a 1.33 ERA and a whopping 38 strikeouts to only 4 walks in 27 innings.
This will be the third time that Kershaw and Scherzer faced each other if you include the playoffs. The first meeting was a decade ago when both were rookies. They most recently faced off in Game 1 of the 2016 NLDS, way back when Scherzer only had one Cy Young Award to his credit. Kershaw beat Scherzer in that playoff game and the Dodgers beat Scherzer’s teams in the two regular season matchups, with neither guy setting the world on fire. As so often happens in baseball, the hype hasn’t been matched by reality.
Still, there’s always a chance it will. And even if, in the end, this turns into a slugfest, the first couple of innings should at least give us some hope of something good. I’ll be watching.