Mr. Clutch has returned.
Never one to shy away from a big game situation, Chipper Jones delivered again— proving why he’s still one of baseball’s most feared hitters.
With the Braves trailing the Cubs 2-1 in the bottom of the eighth, Jones smashed a 3-1 fastball from John Grabow over the left-center wall, propelling Atlanta to a come-from-behind 3-2 win.
In his season debut, Braves starter Jair Jurrjens allowed two runs, both unearned, on three hits with three walks in five innings.
Jurrjens, who was oft a victim of poor run support in 2009, suffered again with such luck last night.
But this time, thanks to Jones and the Braves’ late rally, Jurrjens was spared from recording a hard-luck loss.
The veteran Jones, who is entering his 16th season with the Braves, is no stranger to heroics.
His latest display of late-inning magic helped deflect attention away from an abysmal performance by Atlanta’s new offseason acquisition Troy Glaus.
Glaus, a former third baseman, received the strongest reaction from the hometown crowd last night with a loud chorus of boos.
Now serving as Atlanta’s new first baseman, Glaus made a costly error in the fifth inning that opened the door to two unearned runs after botching a bases-loaded grounder that bounced off his glove.
Glaus didn’t fare any better at the plate, striking out four times, including once with the bases loaded.
In the first two games of the season, the Braves’ new “big bopper” already has six punch-outs, looking overmatched and just plain ugly at the plate.
While Glaus’ struggles persist, Braves rookie phenom Jason Heyward continues to sparkle.
J-Hey stroked an RBI double to give Atlanta a 1-0 lead in the second inning, but the offense was stymied from that point on until Jones stepped to the plate in the eighth and saved the day for the Braves.
Heyward is currently batting seventh in the Braves’ lineup, but his bat has begun to make the argument that he deserves to be moved up higher in the order.
Clean-up hitter Brian McCann was intentionally walked to load the bases in the third after consecutive singles by Melky Cabrera and Martin Prado, only to see the threat come to a crashing halt when both Glaus and Yunel Escobar struck out to end the inning.
The question left in the minds of many after that failed run-scoring opportunity was would Cubs starter Ryan Dempster have still walked McCann if, say, Heyward was on deck and not Glaus?
One has to wonder.
I know it’s early, and Bobby Cox’s managerial history points to being patient, almost stubbornly so, with his perceived best-laid plans.
But, if Heyward continues to soar and Glaus keeps giving at-bats away, it may serve the Braves skipper well to make an adjustment to his lineup sooner rather than later.
Unlike Glaus, another of Atlanta’s new offseason additions has gotten off to a strong start.
Billy Wagner notched the 386th save of his career—and first as a Brave—recording three strikeouts in the ninth.
Atlanta has won the first two games against Chicago in the season-opening series and goes for the sweep tonight at Turner Field.
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