Few people expected Atlanta Braves backup catcher Gerald Laird to play an important role in the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday night. It turns out that Laird’s arm may have saved the day. Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez gambled in the 7th inning when he lifted starting catcher Brian McCann for pinch runner B.J. Upton. Upton would come around to score in the inning and stay in the game courtesy of a double switch with Evan Gattis.
The Braves received an excellent start from Mike Minor who scattered 8 hits over 6.1 innings allowing only 1 run. The Braves took control with 2 insurance runs in the 7th inning that they would end up needing desperately. Hanley Ramirez hit a 2-run homer in the top of the 8th inning to bring the Dodgers within 1 run.
In the 9th inning, Braves closer Craig Kimbrel came in and after striking out the first hitter of the inning, he issued a free pass to catcher A.J. Ellis. Ellis was lifted for Dee Gordon to pinch run. After another Kimbrel strikeout, everyone knew that Gordon was going to run. When he finally made his move, Laird made a spectacular throw down to second and Gordon was called out on a play that was extremely close. Kimbrel would go on to strike out Carl Crawford after another walk to win the game.
The Braves will travel to Los Angeles for game 3 on Sunday night. Julio Teheran is expected to take the hill for Atlanta and the Dodgers will send out Hyun-Jin Ryu. First pitch is scheduled for 8:07 PM.