10/02/2003 1:27 AM ET
Veres done in by pair of miscues
Eighth-inning mistakes lead to Game 2 loss
ATLANTA -- The way he saw it, reliever Dave Veres made
two mistakes in the eighth inning that helped the Atlanta Braves defeat the Chicago Cubs, 5-3,in Game 2 of the NLDS.
By Bill Ladson / MLB.com
First, there was the one-out walk to Vinny Castilla to start the rally. After Jesse Garcia pinch-ran for Castilla, John Smoltz sacrificed Garcia to second base.
In Veres mind, if he doesn't walk Castilla, Smoltz is the third out of the inning.
"If I don't walk Vinny, it's a different ballgame. I would have had Smoltz (at the plate) with two outs, nobody on," Veres said. "I got ahead of Vinny, 0-2. He fouled a couple of balls off. There were some close pitches in the dirt he didn't swing at. I wasn't going to give in to him at 3-2. He is going to get my best pitch, which is my split finger."
The second mistake came after Veres walked Rafael Furcal intentionally to get to second baseman Mark DeRosa, who was starting only because Marcus Giles was sidelined with a bruised left quadriceps muscle.
"I thought it was a better match-up facing De Rosa, who hasn't played much and Furcal has 194 hits. (Furcal is) a dangerous hitter in that situation," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said.
At first it looked like Veres would win the battle against DeRosa, who was behind in the count, 1-2. But DeRosa fought off a couple of pitches and then hit a double to left-center field, scoring Garcia and Furcal. The runs ended a nine-inning scoreless streak for Veres in the postseason. His other appearances in October were with the St. Louis Cardinals.
"I threw a fastball away, fouled it off and then I tried to throw a split-finger fastball down and in, hoping he would
swing and miss or hit a ground ball," Veres said. "Height wise it was pretty good. It just got too much of plate. ... He put a good part of the bat on it."
Said DeRosa, "I knew they wanted to come after me. Dusty intentionally walked Raffy to get to me. I don't think his idea was to put me on and face (Gary Sheffield). I was looking for a split-finger and was able to put some good wood on it."
After the game, Veres had mixed emotions about the Cubs earning a split heading back to Wrigley Field.
"I guess you can looked at it that you split with the Braves in Atlanta, but then again you should have won both. That's the way I see it."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by MajorLeague Baseball or its clubs.