ATLANTA -- It was a game of mere centimeters on Tuesday night when the Cubs faced the Braves at SunTrust Park. And those tiny margins cost Atlanta at least two runs. In the first and fifth, the Cubs threw out a total of three Braves baserunners on close plays -- two
ATLANTA -- It was a game of mere centimeters on Tuesday night when the Cubs faced the Braves at SunTrust Park. And those tiny margins cost Atlanta at least two runs.
In the first and fifth, the Cubs threw out a total of three Braves baserunners on close plays -- two at home, one at third base. The Cubs went on to win the game, 3-2.
During the first inning, the Braves threatened to capitalize on stolen bases to strike first, but Kyle Schwarber's arm had different plans. The Cubs' left fielder had a short window to throw out Freddie Freeman at the plate as the first baseman attempted to score from first following a steal of second base and a throwing error by catcher Willson Contreras.
Freeman, who drew a walk in his first at-bat of the night, stole second on a 3-2 count with Nick Markakis at the plate. Contreras' throw ricocheted into shallow left field, and Freeman popped up and headed for third. Before Schwarber could pick up the ball in left field, Freeman was waved home.
Schwarber's throw to the plate was precise, landing in Contreras' glove right as Freeman slid into home. Contreras tipped Freeman's foot before it touch the plate to keep the game scoreless.
"I don't think with any of the baserunning plays I'd want the guys to do anything different than what they did," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "It took perfect throws."
By the fifth, the close calls came more frequently. Braves shortstop Johan Camargo led off with a single to left field. Charlie Culberson followed with what would have been an easy double-play ground ball to Javier Baez at second, but a bad throw sent the ball to shallow left field. The error allowed Camargo to advance to third.
With runners threatening on the corners with no outs, a pitch got past Contreras. The ball hit the backstop and bounced back to Contreras as Camargo scurried home. Cubs pitcher Mike Montgomery received Contreras' toss and tagged Camargo on the shoulder as he slid head first into home. Camargo was called out, but the Braves challenged the play.
After the review, the call stood and the game remained tied at 1.
"Usually the explanation is what you see on the board," Snitker said. "There wasn't enough evidence to overturn it, I guess."
In the same at-bat, a few pitches later, another ball got the best of Contreras as the pitch bounced away from his grasp. Culberson, who was on second after stealing in the previous endeavor with Camargo, attempted to steal third.
Again, a Braves baserunner was called out on an attempted steal for the third time on Tuesday night. However, upon review, it seemed as if Culberson's foot touched the base before the tag was applied by Cubs third baseman Kristopher Bryant. But the Braves could not challenge the ruling on the field since a challenge had already been made on the play at home a few pitches before, albeit unsuccessfully. A team cannot challenge a play after losing a previous challenge in the same inning.
"Everybody says he was safe. That happens all the time. It would be nice to have a couple of those challenges," Snitker said.
Tori McElhaney is a reporter for MLB.com based in Atlanta.