That night the score was 6-0. This time it was 7-0. 7>6. So yes, this would have been worse. But these Braves didn’t lose the totality of their lead, or the game. So: not worse. Afterward, however, closer Mark Melancon did lose his patience.
Credit: Atlanta Braves
Braves closer Mark Melancon addresses the Dodgers' attempt at a comeback in Game 2 of the NLCS.
Credit: Atlanta Braves
A interrogator via Zoom: “Mark, can you look at this game as, ‘Yeah, you guys almost blew the entire lead, but hey, we survived and that’s all the postseason is about?’ You showed something there in the end against a team like that. I mean, you’re up 2-0 now, however you get there."
Melancon, who wore a half-smile when this lengthy query began, is not thrilled. He’s no longer half-smiling. His eyes have narrowed. His jaw has tightened. He shakes his head and says, “I don’t ...”
The questioner interrupts. “Can you take a positive out of it even though you blew most of that lead? You’re still up 2-0?"
Melancon again shakes his head. Looking quizzical, he says, “Blew the lead?”
The questioner: “Huh?”
Melancon: “I don’t really understand your question.”
The questioner persists: “Can you still take something positive out of this? You’re still up 2-0 in the series despite blowing a big lead. Can you leave this thing feeling, you know, good that you survived this game?"
Melancon tilts his eyes upward. He’s no longer bemused. He’s done with this. He shakes his head a third time and says, “I think that’s a terrible question and I’m not even going to answer.”
For his part, Braves manager Brian Snitker fielded an inquiry about Having Allowed The Dodgers To Get Going. (This was Topic A of the Fox postgame.) Snitker essentially shrugged. “I’m not concerned any more than I was yesterday when we started," he said. “It’s one of those teams that, until that 27th out is made, you don’t feel good because of what they’re capable of doing.”
Observation No. 1: The Dodgers led the majors in scoring. Through the first 15 innings of this series, they managed one run. It was amazing that the Braves held such an offense down that long. It would have been beyond belief for it to have continued forever.
Observation No. 2: I’m pretty sure we won’t see Josh Tomlin in the ninth inning again. I imagine we’d see Charlie Culberson pitching the ninth before that happens.
Observation No. 3: Let’s say Super Bowl 51 had played out exactly as it did, with one exception: The Falcons stopped the Patriots' 2-point conversion attempt with 57 seconds remaining. (Let’s also assume the Falcons would have then had the sense to fall on the ensuing onside kick.) Let’s say the Falcons had won 28-26 after leading 28-3. Would the first question from Terry Bradshaw to Dan Quinn have been, “Can you take anything positive from this, other than the Lombardi Trophy you’re holding?”
You. Play. To. Win. The. Game. The Braves won 8-7. They lead 2-nil. It could well be that the Dodgers win the next four and point back to a rally that fell one run short as the catalyst. Indeed, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said, “I definitely think that’s some momentum we can take into tomorrow.”
Observation No. 4: The greatest truth in baseball is this: Momentum is tomorrow’s starting pitcher. Josh Tomlin won’t start Game 3. A.J. Minter won’t start Game 3. Kyle Wright will.