Wednesday, August 7, 2013

August 7: My Day

I don't talk too much about myself here because frankly, this blog is about the Braves.  However, because it's August 7th, this blog, for a day, becomes about the Braves and me.  You see, today is my birthday and I'm forced to ask...how do the Braves play on my Name Day?

In 1982, I was born.  Had I been born about an hour earlier, I would have been an August 6th baby.  However, the seventh worked for me.  Later that day, the Braves faced the Dodgers and fell 7-6 in ten innings.  Steve Bedrosian, known better as Bedrocks, took the loss for a pretty good Atlanta team.  On my first birthday, we got the first of back-to-back matchups of Pascual Perez and Alejandro Pena.  Perez outpitched the Dodger 5-2 and the Braves led Los Angeles by 5.5 games in the NL West.  They would go 20-30 over their final 50 and lose their lead.  The next year, Perez was an out away from a shutout before Ken Landreaux tied it up at one a piece.  Donnie Moore lost it in the eleventh.

Only twice did the Braves not play on my birthday and they came in back-to-back years in 1985 and 1986.  In 1988, Tom Glavine started his first of three straight birthday starts with an awful 14-4 loss.  However, the next year, he pitched the Braves past the Dodgers with a four-hit shutout.  It was his fourth and final shutout of the season.  Jeff Blauser hit a third inning homerun as the only run of the game.  Also starting that day around baseball was Greg Maddux (who former Brave Pascual Perez outpitched) and Roger McDowell (who also lost).  In 1990, as this Tommy celebrated his eighth birthday, Tommy Gregg went 4-for-4 in a 7-2 loss against San Diego.

1994's Birthday Game was played days before the strike that killed the season.  It was also my first birthday following my father's passing.  Kent Mercker gave up solo homers to Barry Larkin, Brian Dorsett, and Kevin Mitchell and fell 3-2.  For some crazy reason, Mike Kelly batted third and homered.

In 1995, the Braves began a five-game win streak.  Rookie Chipper Jones had three hits, including his first major league triple, and the Braves downed the Expos 5-1.  The following season, the Braves destroyed the Phillies 14-1 in a mercy-ruled rain-shortened eight-inning game.  Fred McGriff went 3-for-5 with a homer and Javy Lopez also homered.  Denny Neagle withstood Lopez getting beaned and removed from the game in 1997, shutting the Cardinals down over 7.2 ING in a 3-0 win.

Nine years to the day after he threw a four-hitter against during the Birthday Game, Glavine threw a three-hitter, this time against the Giants in 1998.  It was the fourth Birthday Game Start for Glavine, a record.  Chipper Jones, Danny Bautista, and Javy Lopez all homered.  In 2000, Jones was a big reason for a loss as his error led to a pair of unearned runs that tied up a game and cost John Rocker a save.  Kerry Ligtenberg would lose the game in the tenth.

2005 was the absolute worst Birthday Game.  Up 3-1 in the ninth, David Eckstein hit a Walk-Off Grand Slam off Chris Reitsma.  The Braves would lose again the following season because that's what happens when Horacio Ramirez and Oscar Villarreal pitch for you.  However, they would match their winning streak of '95-'99 with a five-gamer that started with 2007's 7-3 win against the Mets.  Jeff Francoeur, who I adore (/sarcasm) went 4-for-5 with 2 2B and a HR.  Matt Diaz also homered because the opposing pitcher was lefty Oliver Perez and all DIAZ DOES IS KILL LEFTIES!

In 2009, the game was tied at 5 in the 12th when the Braves scored four times against the Dodgers in LA.  Ryan Church hit a three-run homer to help the rally along.  Pitching dominated the 2010 Birthday Game as Tim Hudson kept the Cardinals scoreless for eight innings before Billy Wagner struck out the side in the ninth with just eleven pitches to secure the 3-0 win.  The win streak reached five in 2011 when Chipper Jones, who didn't start the game, delivered a go-ahead RBI single in the top of the ninth as the Braves won 6-5.  Earlier in the game, Jason Heyward homered and so did Alex Gonzalez.  Jose Constanza followed the latter with his first major league homer.

Unfortunately, the five-game winning streak ended last year with a 3-0 shutout as Cole Hamels beat Mike Minor.

The Braves have never lost more than two Birthday Games in a row.  Overall, they are 17-12 on August 7th since my birth.  Five different hitters hit two home-runs for the Braves during the Birthday Game, though none had a multiple homer game.  Francoeur and Gregg each had four hit games.  Glavine had a pair of shutouts and Mike Hampton pitched a complete game.  Seven times, the Braves face the Dodgers, though six of those games came in the first nine while he Braves were in the NL West.

This year, the Braves face the Nationals for the first time in a Birthday Game.  The Braves did face the Expos twice and won as many as they lost.  Hopefully, Kris Medlen will bring win number 18 to Atlanta.

Strangely, no postponements on my birthday.  Just saying.

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