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Albies' run-saving play isn't enough for Braves

Vizcaino issues bases-loaded walk in 10th against Rockies
April 7, 2018

DENVER -- Had a replay review gone the Braves' way, Ozzie Albies would have been talking about what would have been an incredible game-ending play. But because it didn't, Arodys Vizcaino was forced to talk about one of the most frustrating ways to end a game."It's just part of the

DENVER -- Had a replay review gone the Braves' way, Ozzie Albies would have been talking about what would have been an incredible game-ending play. But because it didn't, Arodys Vizcaino was forced to talk about one of the most frustrating ways to end a game.
"It's just part of the game, you have to learn how to win and you have to learn how to lose," Vizcaino said through an interpreter. "It was just one of those days today."
Actually, this game, especially the final stages, was different than those encountered on most days. One defensive gem forced extra innings and another proved quite pivotal when Vizcaino issued three consecutive two-out walks to end Saturday night's 3-2, 10-inning loss to the Rockies.
"That was a heck of a game," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "They thought they won the game the inning before when they lined one up the middle. We did the same thing. It was a tough-fought game. They just kind of outlasted us."
Winners in five of their previous seven games, the Braves entered with a Major League-best 56 runs scored and a sparkling 1.45 bullpen ERA. There was eventually going to be a slow night like this for the offense and the relief corps was bound to encounter a hiccup. But it would have been hard to predict it unraveling in this manner.
Vizcaino sandwiched a pair of outs around Carlos Gonzalez's opposite-field double and then intentionally walked left-handed hitter Gerardo Parra. The Braves' closer got ahead of Trevor Story with a 1-2 count and then fired three straight sliders out of the strike zone to catcher Carlos Perez, who joined the Braves earlier in the week.
"The pitches were feeling good so that's what I was going with," Vizcaino said. "They just weren't falling in the zone. It's just part of the game. There's got to be a winner and a loser."

With the bases loaded and the home crowd stirring in anticipation, Vizcaino then missed the strike zone with each of the four pitches -- a first-pitch slider followed by three fastballs -- thrown to Rockies catcher Tony Wolters. The Rockies have now ended each of their past three walk-off wins by drawing a bases-loaded walk.
"I thought maybe with the breaking balls, when he walked the hitter before, he was just getting him to chase and get himself out," Snitker said. "He just got himself out of whack there. It's a tough spot in the game to try to work yourself back."

This was a somewhat static end to what was an eventful and action-packed game. Braves starter Anibal Sanchez allowed the Rockies to gain a 2-0 lead with Story's fourth-inning homer and a Freddie Freeman sixth-inning double accounted for the only run allowed by Rockies starter Chad Bettis.
Albies was retired on a bang-bang play just ahead of Freeman's double. The exciting young second baseman came back into focus when he leapt to his right and seemed to levitate as he grabbed a DJ LeMahieu liner. The defensive gem erased what would have been a walk-off hit and became a game-extending double play.
"When it came off his bat, I was like, 'I've got to catch this ball," Albies said. "When I watched the replay after the game, I was like, I didn't know I went that high."
After Albies reached third base by drawing an errant throw on a stolen base attempt in the top of the 10th, Story returned the favor by leaping to grab a Nick Markakis liner that would have at least provided Vizcaino a one-run cushion.

"It was a good ballgame, we just came up on the short end," Snitker said. "We couldn't get the big hit."
Ninth-inning rally:Kurt Suzuki drew a one-out pinch-hit walk off Wade Davis and scored the tying run when Dansby Swanson and Ryan Flaherty followed with consecutive singles off Davis, who suffered his first blown save since signing a three-year, $52 million deal this offseason. Through eight games, Flaherty has three multi-hit performances, two fewer than his total from the 2016 and '17 seasons combined.

Influential review: Wolters quickly pounced on Albies' bunt as he slid on his knees and fired a strike to first base to record the second out of the sixth. The Braves challenged and the call was ruled as stands because there was not definitive evidence Albies was safe. The speedy second baseman would have likely scored to tie the game when Freeman followed with a RBI double to the left-center-field gap.

"Everybody says I was safe, I know I was safe, too," Albies said. "I don't understand why they have replay if they don't get the right answer on it."
"He mixes pitches well. The guy can pitch. I think he understands where he's at, at this point of his career." -- Snitker on Sanchez, who used a variety of offspeed pitches, including a 61-mph eephus pitch that struck out Desmond in the fifth. The veteran allowed two runs and completed five innings in what was his first start of the season
Story has nine career home runs against the Braves, each of which has come within a span of 42 at-bats dating to July 22, 2016.
Freeman's streak of reaching base multiple times was snapped at seven games. He was bidding to surpass Jerry Royster (1978) as the first player in Atlanta history to reach multiple times through each of a season's first eight games.
The Rockies challenged a play in the third inning when Inciarte was initially ruled safe at first on a fielder's choice. After a review, officials ruled the ball contacted first baseman Ian Desmond's glove before Inciarte's foot hit the bag and the call was overturned, resulting in a 5-4-3 inning-ending double play.

Left-hander Sean Newcomb will take the mound for the rubber game against the Rockies on Sunday at 3:10 p.m. ET. Newcomb provided six quality innings when he made his only previous career Coors Field start in August. Freddie Freeman and the hot Atlanta offense will face left-hander Kyle Freeland.
Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for since 2001.