This is Ricky Nolasco. He ruined the Braves season. Sure, they're still technically alive in the Wild Card race at four games back with four games left and sure, you can point to Matt Diaz getting picked off at third base to end the game as the reason the Braves are sad pandas today, but really, Ricky Nolasco killed a dream.
Nolasco struck out 16 Braves last night, the most K's by a big league pitcher in almost two years, and sassy senior Jorge Cantu collected three hits and two runs to lead the Marlins to a 5-4 win. At one point, Nolasco struck out nine straight Braves hitters, one shy of Tom Seaver's record 10; leadoff 'hitter' Nate McLouth 'led' the losing team with three strikeouts.
The Braves had a chance to win the game in the bottom of the ninth with a tidy rally that produced two runs but crashed and burned miserably when Matt Diaz wandered too far from third base on a passed ball. Marlins catcher Ronny Paulino collected the baseball, fired down to third, and effectively ended the Braves season. Hey, that's a RIVERA!
"I pride myself on making decisions, not always the right ones, but I'm decisive," Diaz said. "Right there, I hesitated and it cost us big. I've never felt this bad about a play. It's a sinking feeling knowing you cost these guys."
Matt Diaz is The Decider. This is not something to brag about, son. Be more proud of yourself for making the right decisions and try not to be a latter-day Lonnie Smith.