McCann’s “day off” ends with walk-off HR

Tuesday was a career type of off-day for Atlanta Braves catcher Brian McCann. With an afternoon game against the Houston Astros, the Braves opted to give their All-Star catcher a day of rest and started David Ross behind the dish.

It was a pitcher’s duel with Derek Lowe and Wandy Rodriguez battling it out until the Astros finally took a 1-0 lead in the seventh inning.

With the Astros clinging to the narrow lead going into the bottom of the ninth, Dan Uggla was retired for the first out in the ninth after a terrific defensive play on a hot shot to third. Eric Hinske was retired for the second out on a fly ball that Hunter Pence had to jump into the outfield wall to catch. Twice, the Braves came oh-so-close without getting anything going.

With two outs in the bottom of the ninth, the Braves elected to interrupt McCann’s “day off” and called on him to pinch hit. B-Mac , arguably the best hitting catcher in the National League, responded by drilling a 1-2 pitch just over the left-centerfield wall to tie the game to send the Atlanta crowd into a frenzy and send it into extra innings.

The game stayed intense with the Astros nearly taking the lead in the top of the eleventh inning off of Cory Gearrin. One of the stranger plays of the game resulted when Gearrin hit Matt Downs. While the ball clearly struck the batter, umpire Alfonso Marquez forced downs to stay at the plate for moving into the pitch. Despite the argument from Astros manager Brad Mills, replays showed that Marquez was correct and Downs stuck his elbow out into the pitch.

The Astros would eventually load the bases before Gearrin escaped the inning without allowing a run.

Dan Uggla (who went 0-5 and is hitting just .196 on the year) was retired to start off the bottom of the eleventh. Eric Hinske followed with a walk and McCann strutted to the plate again, again with the chance to become the hero. Getting a bead on a 1-0 pitch from Jeff Fulchino, B-Mac sent the ball it into the right field seats to give the Braves a 3-1 walk-off win.

This kind of win is almost commonplace for the Braves. Last year, the team had 25 last at-bat wins (most in the majors) and thirteen walk-offs.

McCann’s final line on the day was 2-2 with two homers and three RBI. Not bad for a catcher who was scheduled for a “day off”.

The win coupled with a Philadelphia loss put the Braves just 1.5 games out of the division lead as they head west to face the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Used with permission of the author.

Along with contributing to Sports Climax, Brett Kettyle is the Atlanta Braves Community Leader on Bleacher Report and maintains a Braves column for MTR Media. Follow Brett on Twitter.

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