This is the Time
AP Photo/Will Powers
This is the time.
Time to see if it worked. Time to see whether proof again can be made of John Schuerholz's genius. Time to see whether or not the acquisitions of Mike Gonzalez and Rafael Soriano this offseason paid off. Time to see whether or not the Braves can turn to their "Two Closers of the Future." Today, the Braves placed Bob Wickman on the DL, due to a sore back. We know is that it's time for Gonzalez and Soriano to step up and live up to the hype that has been surrounding them since their acquisitions. Their pitching is crucial to our success in the 8th and 9th innings, and so far, with Wickman's recent Kolb-like falterings, they have been the only one's who have pitched well consistently.
Tonight was a good sign that at least one of them is living up to the hype. Gonzo looked tonight like he was finally back to the way he pitched in Pittsburgh when he was their closer. At the beginning of the season, he was, to say the least, a bit shaky. It didn't seem like he was able to get lefties out as much because he didn't get enough movement on his pitches. We contributed it to aftereffects of the arm injury that sidelined him for most of the end of last season. And maybe it was. Hopefully it was, because tonight, it looked as if those arm injuries were long gone.
Rafael Soriano has been pitching well all year, showing no after-effects of that line drive to the head that ended his season prematurely last season. He has been pitching consistently all year, giving us a good impression that he may be the closer of the future of the Braves, especially with his success against righties that is so important for a pitcher of his style. With the heat that he throws, he can get anybody out, as long as he can locate it. Which he has been able to do this season, giving us even more confidence in our bullpen that we've not had in a while.
Last year, with the score tied 2-2 in the 9th in April, most of us would probably have given up, due to the fact that we had just about no big name guy who we knew we could count on to get the 3 outs we needed in order to get to the bottom of the 9th, and give our guys a decent chance of winning. Tonight, however, the confidence that was felt among us Braves fans during that 9th inning was, to say the least, relieving. Finally, not since the days of Chris Hammond and Darren Holmes did we feel so much confidence in our set-up guys late in the game. Finally, it was time to start thinking ahead to the bottom of the 9th inning again. A bottom of the 9th inning that tonight, obviously, proved very fruitful and memorable for the Braves and their fans, as Andruw jacked one out with two on and the crowd on their feet. Last year, with our bullpen, that might have pulled us within 1 or two runs. Tonight, it was a walk-off homer that pulled it out for us. With all the moves that JS made the offseason, that walk-off homer cemented for me his brilliance and his craftiness. For me, just knowing that the day that we DL'ed our closer was the day that one of the two closers we acquired in the offseason had dominated the Phillies lineup was almost surreal. It was exciting, and I hope to be more excited in future games to come.