The bases were loaded in the bottom of the 11th and the Atlanta Braves needed a patient hitter at the plate willing to coax a walk to win the game. Andruw Jones would have been the last choice in such a situation.
The 22-year-old Jones, who has been schooled and schooled to be more patient at the plate, waited on Mets pitcher Kenny Rogers tonight.
"His pitches look so fat," Jones said.
But the center fielder, better known for his defensive prowess and free-swinging, laid off pitches out of the strike zone and Rogers walked him on six pitches. That forced in Gerald Williams from third base with the winning run as the Braves won Game 6 of the National League Championship Series, 10-9, to advance to the World Series for the fifth time this decade.
"You get in trouble if you try and do too much," Jones said. "I just had to be patient and make him throw it over the plate. The last one wasn't even close. . . . Way out."
The Mets brought in Rogers to pitch the bottom of the 11th and Williams hit the first pitch from the left-hander into the left field corner for a double. Bret Boone, who had trouble getting wood on the ball--striking out three times tonight--then managed to get down a sacrifice bunt that was fielded by Rogers. Williams advanced to third.
"It was the only good thing I did all night," Boone said.
The Mets then walked Chipper Jones intentionally and threw two pitch-out balls to Brian Jordan before he was walked intentionally to load the bases.
That brought up Andruw Jones, who singled in the bottom of the 10th and then scored the tying run after the Mets had grabbed a 9-8 lead in the top half of the inning.
Rogers tried to get Jones to chase an outside change-up on the first pitch and hopefully hit into an inning-ending double play. Jones laid off. Then came ball two before Jones dribbled a ball down the third base line just foul. The count went to 3-1 before Rogers hit the outside corner with a fastball to make it 3-2.
The next pitch was high and wide and the Braves were on their way to the World Series to face the New York Yankees. Rogers was offered the excuse that it's tough to get your control back after issuing two intentional walks. He shook his head no.
"I had to get the ball over the plate to Andruw and I didn't," the Mets left-hander said. "It doesn't matter [the intentional walks], you still have to get the ball over."
The Braves wouldn't have been in position to win the game or the series without Eddie Perez, a career backup catcher, who was named series MVP. The 31-year-old Perez, who spent nine seasons in the Atlanta minor league system, had 10 hits in 20 at-bats and five RBI. He hit safely in five of six games and had two home runs.
"Everybody came through for us, not just one guy," Perez said. "We've had a tough year with the injuries, but we've always managed to get it done."