The anatomy of a historic comeback


AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

Something happened in Washington last night that hadn’t happened since I was a month old.

With Stephen Strasburg on the mound for the first-place Nationals, the Braves found themselves in a 9-0 hole after five innings. I won’t lie — I changed the channel. Kevin Hart was doing stand-up and Talladega Nights was on. A Braves blowout wasn’t going to win over those tempting options.

But then, the Braves scored four runs in the sixth. Then, they added four more in the eighth. Suddenly, the home team had my attention again, and this didn’t seem like another throwaway game.

By the time Michael Bourn tripled home two runs in the top of the ninth to give the Braves a 10-9 lead, I figured the game was over, but for the first time, I thought the Braves would be the winning team. Craig Kimbrel was going to close out the game, and it would be a huge win with three more games to play in the weekend series.

Of course, it wouldn’t be that easy.

Kimbrel gave up a bomb to Danny Espinosa, and the instant classic was headed to extra innings. We should have known that was coming.

In extras, the Braves scored their eleventh run of the game in the eleventh inning, when Paul Janish — of all people — singled to score Dan Uggla — of all people — to give the Braves a lead they would never relinquish. And if they weren’t going to win this one, they shouldn’t have even bothered to come back.

Coming back from down nine runs is the kind of thing that could turn around a season for both teams. I won’t say the Nationals will melt down or the Braves will use this one game to take over the Eastern Division, but this was the kind of game that would make it happen.

Meanwhile, the Braves celebrated as if they’d won the pennant, at least that’s what Nationals beat writer Amanda Comak said. Why shouldn’t they? They brought down the suddenly-mighty Nationals and their ace in a five-inning span.

Today, the two teams will play a doubleheader, and if the Braves are going to make a move this weekend, they need to win at least one of those games. If they lose both today, the historic comeback will be lessened.

But still, it was easier to wake up this morning, knowing the way the Braves won last night’s thriller.

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